Aviation: Kulula.com Co-founder, former deputy finance minister acquires 51% stake in South African Airways via Takatso Consortium

Kgokolo Assembly Takatso

Moribund South African Airways might be getting a lifeline as the government has entered into a strategic partnership with a new firm, Takatso Consortium owned by the country’s former deputy finance minister, Jabulani Moleketi and Kulula.com Co-founder, Gidon Novick.

The consortium has taken majority ownership of South African Airways (SAA) with 51% stake in the struggling carrier.
According to ewn.co.za, the new strategic partner, the Takatso Consortium, was announced by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan last week as the new majority owner of SAA.

READ: Aviation: South African Economist Says govt. should’ve opted for 100% sale of SAA

During his address, Gordhan said the partnership would see SAA receiving a R3 billion boost from the strategic partners. The Takatso Consortium will own the majority of SAA shares at 51%, with government holding 49%.

Takatso chair and current Harith group executive director is Tshepo Mahloele.

The consortium comprises Harith General Partners, a pan-African investor in African infrastructure, as well as aviation group Global Aviation.

Harith General Partners is chaired by former deputy finance minister Jabulani Moleketi. The other equity partner is Global Airways’ Gidon Novick who will serve as Takatso CEO. Novick is the former Comair co-CEO, which operates Kulula, and recently co-founder of LIFT airline.

Novick said there were incredible skills and talent available right here in South Africa as well as an abundance of low-priced aircraft available globally. These, he said, were both critical ingredients for a successful airline.

“Transformation will be core to SAA, including accelerated training and promotion of qualified black pilots and a broad based employee incentive scheme,” he said.

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Novick has also served as chief executive officer at Discovery Vitality, having co-founded Kulula, and serving as Comair CEO.
The consortium said the intention was to list the airline in the future as one way to address funding requirements.

Moleketi chaired the Public Investment Corporation and was also deputy finance minister when Harith was granted R17 million in seed funding in 2006.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa made allegations against Harith Fund Manager, its CEO Mahloele and non-executive chairperson at the time Moleketi, saying that Mahloele and Moleketi used their previous positions at the PIC to enrich themselves – allegations they denied.

The Mpati commission of inquiry into the matter cleared them of wrongdoing when the report was released last year.

According to the Mail & Guardian, Holomisa was prevented from making further allegations by court order.

Reacting to the deal, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said the first major concern was the fact that the board of Harith General Partners was chaired by Moleketi.

“It is noteworthy that, whenever the ANC engages in public-private partnerships, it is almost always ANC bigwigs that benefit most,” said DA member of Parliament Alf Lees.

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