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Is SA Express worth R1?

A new offer has been made to purchase the airline.
This is Fly Modern Ark’s second bid – in 2020 it offered R100m, with an additional R400m to recapitalise the airline and pay its creditors. Image: Tod Burns

Embattled state-owned airline SA Express is only worth R1, according to aviation company Fly Modern Ark.

The company, headed by businessman Theunis Crous, has tabled a fresh offer to buy SA Express, which is currently in provisional liquidation.

This is Fly Modern Ark’s second offer to purchase the airline.

In 2020 it offered the government and SA Express’s joint liquidators R100 million to purchase the airline and an additional R400 million to recapitalise the airline and pay its creditors.

The offer was however shot down and worker-owned consortium Fly SAX won the bid to buy the airline in September last year for R50 million. Roughly R24 million of the purchase price was raised following an auction of the airline’s assets in November last year, leaving an outstanding balance of R26 million.

Read:

By February this year, SA Express owed its creditors a total of R980 million. This excluded the R150 million owed to the SA Revenue Service and R183 million owed to workers – comprising R81 million in severance packages, R43 million in leave pay and R59 million in outstanding salaries.

In the latest offer letter – sent to SA Express provisional liquidator Aviwe Ndyamara and Public Enterprises Director-General Kgathatso Tlhakudi – Crous says following its earlier purchase offer, Fly Modern Ark and its investment partners lost interest in SA Express “as its condition as a company deteriorated to where it finds itself at the moment”.

In January the airline’s provisional liquidation was extended to April 29 to allow for the conclusion of the shareholding agreement between the provisional liquidator and the government.

Read: SA Express provisional liquidation given four-month extension

The airline entered business rescue in February last year after it could not pay a R11.3 billion debt. The rescue process however failed and the airline was placed under provisional liquidation in April last year.

The R1 offer

In the offer letter, which was sent to Ndyamara and Tlhakudi on April 7 and has been seen by Moneyweb, Crous proposes that the sale be concluded on April 28, a day before the airline is expected to conclude its shareholding agreement.

Crous proposes that negotiations begin on April 12, with Fly Modern Ark signing a confidentiality agreement three days later. Within the period up to April 28, SA Express’s liquidator will be required to not proceed with any other offer to purchase the airline. The liquidator will also be required to finalise the application to wind up the airline, Crous says.

By April 18 Fly Modern Ark will make a formal offer detailing the terms and conditions of the transaction. The SA Express board will then be required to accept or decline the terms of the offer by April 19.

Brand name appeal

When approached for comment, Crous said although the airline is in financial distress and has sold off most of its assets, the SA Express name remains one of the most well-known brands in the local aviation industry.

The airline however requires “a bit of work” before it takes off, Crous says.

Last year, the aviation company wrote to the Department of Transport, the International Air Service Licensing Council, and the domestic Air Services Licensing Council and requested that SA Express’s licences be cancelled “with immediate effect” because the airline had not been operational for most of the year.

Read: SA Express licence in jeopardy, as fleet remains grounded

Crous denied that the company remains disgruntled over its failure to win the initial bid to purchase the airline, adding that it remains hopeful that the new offer will be welcomed by the SA Express shareholder.

Approvals

For the transaction to be concluded, both the shareholder and the airline’s creditors would need to approve, according to Eric Levenstein, head of business rescue at Werksmans Attorneys. In this instance, the parties would have to enter into a compromise as outlined in Section 155 of the Companies Act.

“The provisional liquidator would propose [the] scheme to all the creditors and the shareholders and make whatever offer is available for the shares and for the creditors.… The proposal would have to be made [and] then be sent to court whereby a judge would use [their] discretion to determine whether or not the offer is fair,” he said.

Deal Leaders Africa MD Andrew Bahlmann says an offer to purchase a finally distressed company for R1 is not uncommon.

Buyers table such an offer because they see value and growth potential in the company despite massive losses. However, this would be a first for a state-owned company in SA.

The success of the transaction depends on the shareholders, the creditors and the courts, he said.

The Department of Public Enterprises and the provisional liquidator were not available to comment by the time of publication.

Listen: Fly Modern Ark MD Theunis Crous discusses its SA Express offer

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Forget Crous’s R1 offer I have a $100 bill right here! Now that we are bidding to take this airline to the knackers – Express-ly!

I will offer $100 plus Rand 1

“he airline entered business rescue in February last year after it could not pay a R11.3 billion debt. The rescue process however failed and the airline was placed under provisional liquidation in April last year”

Would not be surprised if the above will also be the end result for saa after it had been “rescued”

Thanks Theunis for creating a new word….Political Correct Persons ( POCOPS ) on RSG geldsake.

I still own ONE TIME shares.

How do I flog these shares?

Perhaps a Mr. Crous could offer you R1.

Try the “dead horse” method?

How to turn a large fortune into a small fortune?

Start an airline, that’s how!

Correction – let the government start an airline

What baffles me about this whole saga, is the infantile manner in which government is handling the airline matter. Surely any grade 2 learner will be able to, given the facts, come up with a better decision than what Pravin and friends made. For how long can they continue sticking their heads in the sand and ignore what is right in front of their eyes? What could possibly still keep them from making the correct decision? Is it stupidity or ineptness, or is it their revolutionary nature that prohibits them from making the decision that is supported by fact? Surely it is way past time they grow up and rule as adults, basing their decisions on facts, reason and logic, instead of this infantile contrariness they seem to prefer.

Don’t try to figure out their disfunctional minds; they have no business acumen – it’s all about their political party, not the country or its people!

End of comments.

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