Asset management company, Takatso Aviation got the green light to take a controlling stake (51%) in debt-ridden South African Airways. Pretoria’s Department of Public Enterprises will
retain a 49% equity stake, ensuring a long-term national strategic interest in the carrier. This decision, announced by South Africa’s Competition Tribunal, comprises key conditions aimed at
safeguarding the interests of the airline and its employees.
The deal, inked last week, implies an investment of EUR 162 million which will be made by Takatso into SAA’s operating funds over the next 24 months. Conversely, the government will cover the carrier’s outstanding debts of EUR 75 million.
Zuma regime crippled SAA
South Africa's once proud national carrier has been in the red since 2011. Under the regime of former President Jacob Zuma, the company was involved in various cases of corruption. His confidants shamelessly plundered SAA’s coffers and filled leading management positions with accomplices or confidants. The full extent of the corruption was proven by the judiciary in explicit detail after Zuma left office in 2018. Currently, he is in Russia where he is reported to be undergoing medical treatment. Upon return to South Africa, he will have to return to prison to complete his 15-month sentence for the various financial crimes he and his regime committed between 2009 and 2018 - among them: ruining South African Airways by siphoning the airline’s money into his and his collaborators’ private pockets.
Building an “iconic national brand”
Following the decision of the Competition Tribunal, the Takatso Consortium has expressed its delight in having been awarded the sales agreement. The Consortium comprises Harith General Partners, a leading investor in African infrastructure, and aviation group, Global Aviation. In a first reaction, Takatso expressed its intention to build an “iconic national brand and a sustainable, world-class pan-African airline.”
Harith co-founder and Consortium Chair, Tshepo Mahloele said the Consortium has the experience, expertise, and capital to transform SAA into a substantial operating business in its own right: “The partnership represents a robust, exciting South African-bred solution. Harith, as owners of Lanseria International Airport, has significant experience in the transport infrastructure and aviation sectors. We have deployed more than a billion dollars into a portfolio of critical infrastructure assets across the African continent that support regional economies.”
In addition, Takatso announced that further details will soon be outlined on key issues such as the route network rollout, fleet selection, cargo decisions, brand relaunch, or technology and maintenance issues.
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