Press Room

Top Empowerment 2010

03 May 2010

Industrial holdings group Barloworld has made serious empowerment strides in the past few years and is now almost into the Top 20 of the FM’s 2010 Top Empowerment Companies (TEC) survey. It occupies the pole position within the general industrial sector of the JSE, ahead of names like Allied Electronics ( Altron ), Equestra, Astrapak , Transpaco and Nampak .

Last year’s TEC described the 45-year-old Altron, the electronics behemoth founded by intrepid entrepreneur Bill Venter, as an amazing turnaround story. This year, the honours go to Barloworld, which has surged from last year’s lousy 113th position to claim the 21st spot.

This improvement comes after it concluded a R2,4bn BEE deal to transfer 10% of issued shares to a broad-based BEE consortium. The deal left Barloworld with about 28% black ownership in its local operations.

With R43bn in revenues and a market cap of about R10bn, Barloworld is one of SA’s industrial giants. It describes itself as a distributor of leading global brands, which also provides integrated rental, fleet management, product support and logistics solutions.

Barloworld has achieved an impressive level 3 broad-based empowerment rating, based on the department of trade & industry’s empowerment scorecard. In total, only 24 JSE-listed companies have reached level 3 (or higher) and Barloworld’s subsidiary Avis has achieved a level 2 status.

Though Barloworld’s top brass is impressed with its empowerment leap, chairman Dumisa Ntsebeza notes that the group’s “greatest challenge now” in the SA operation is employment equity.

In fact, most players in this sector are struggling when it comes to employment equity. Plastic packaging firm Astrapak, which managed 7,17 points out of a possible 15, scored the highest for employment equity in this sector. Astrapak is joined by Eqstra , an integrated leasing and capital equipment firm, which lifted its score from 50,77% to 69,61%. Transpaco improved its score to 55,28%, rising to the 73rd place within the Top 100 TEC list.
This time around, it was Bell Equipment and Jasco Electronics’ turn to finish outside the Top 100. Another sector player that fared rather poorly is multinational packaging titan Nampak, which plunged 25 places after losing points to end the reporting period with a total BEE score of 50,82%.

In contrast, Altron has bolstered its total score from 65,35% to 71,57%. Its asset base includes ICT groups Bytes Technology, Powertech and Altech , which late last year sold a stake in its vehicle tracking subsidiary Netstar to black groups Vusi Khanyile’s Thebe and black women investment firm Identity Partners. Altron has over the years signed a number of BEE deals with the likes of Kagiso, Pamodzi and Sipho Pityana’s Izingwe.

Altron’s executive team remains pale and male — the one downside to an otherwise positive transformation story. So does that of its key unit Altech. At the delisted Bytes, Douglas Ramaphosa is the only black executive.

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