Battle for Phumelela heats up as Mary Oppenheimer Daughters hits out at rival offer – News24

Battle for Phumelela heats up as Mary Oppenheimer Daughters hits out at rival offer – News24
  • Mary Oppenheimer and Daughters, a company linked to the family of late mining baron Harry Oppenheimer, has criticised a rival offer for some of the assets of horse racing and betting company Phumelela Gaming & Leisure.
  • The company says a September 1 deadline imposed by UK bookmaker Betfred on Phumelela to accept its offer is “unrealistic”.
  • Phumelela filed for business rescue in May in the wake of a ban on horse races at the start of the nationwide lockdown. 

The battle for the assets of struggling horse racing and betting company Phumelela Gaming & Leisure has intensified, with Mary Oppenheimer and Daughters (Pty) Ltd on Friday taking a swipe at a proposal put forward by UK bookmaker Betfred to take over the business.

Phumela filed for business rescue in May. 

In a letter to Phumelela’s insolvency practitioners Mary Oppenheimer and Daughters (MOD), which is linked to the family of late mining baron Harry Oppenheimer, put forward a case for their bid for some of the Phumelela’s assets. 

This follows a “binding offer” of between R875 million and R925 million for Phumelela’s entire business offered by Betfred last week. The UK bookmaker has given the company until September 1 to accept the offer, something which MOD called “naive” and “commercially unrealistic”.

MOD further argue that Betfred conveniently “imitated” their structure, which includes a loan facility to ensure quick payment for creditors and a separate “acquisition phase” of assets. 

Mary Oppenheimer and Daughters recently committed to extend a further R550 million to save the company, following the R100 million in post commencement finance it extended to Phumelela shortly after it was put into business rescue. The letter stated that “MOD has also demonstrated its commitment by funding Phumelela” and has, effectively, come to the aid of all creditors even though it is seeking only to acquire the racing assets. 

“The Betfred proposal purports to be a “binding offer” — but it is not. This is, in effect, an agreement to agree, with final terms yet to be negotiated,” read the letter, pointing at the long history and support Mary Slack and Jessica Jell have provided to the South African racing industry.

“MOD has already signed a definitive post commencement finance and  the sale of one or more of Phumelela assets and other potential short-term cash proceeds, will secure the delivery of at least R400 million to creditors by November 2020,” states the four-page letter. 

Phumelela creditors are expected to vote on the group’s business rescue plan at a meeting scheduled for September 1, the same date the group has been given to accept or reject Betfred’s offer.  

MOD said while it accepts tit cannot impose a position on creditors, “it reserves the  to withdraw from the process and to provide no further funding to Phumelela.”


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