South Africa: DPE Welcomes Toto Investment Judgment

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has welcomed the Western Cape High Court judgment on Monday, dismissing with costs Toto Investment Holdings’ application to halt the sale of South African Airways (SAA).

Toto approached the court in a bid to force Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and the DPE to make records of the sale public and to interdict the sale of the shares.

“Toto Investments wanted to interdict the implementation of the transaction for the introduction of a strategic equity partner in SAA, pending the finalisation of the review application. But the court dismissed the application with costs, including the costs of two counsels,” the DPE said on Monday.

In addition, the department said the State Attorney suggested the confidentiality regime before the matter went to court. However, the investment firm rejected it and requested that all documents be disclosed on a non-confidential basis.

“The court ordered that certain documents be disclosed on a confidential basis, while others should be disclosed on a non-confidential basis. The judgment is in line with the suggestions that the State Attorney made to Toto Investments before the matter was heard in court.”

According to News24, Toto, an unsuccessful bidder for some of the assets of SAA, has launched an application to have the sale to Takatso Consortium’s parent company, Harith, set aside. This application is set to be heard at the end of January 2023.

“We welcome the judgment, as we have stated in our affidavit that the transaction is governed by confidential undertakings and the department was not at liberty to disclose to third parties certain documents related to the transaction, unless under a confidentiality regime.

“Unfortunately, Toto had to press ahead with this ill-fated strategy after we discussed with them at length about the confidentiality nature of the transaction,” said Gordhan.

The judgment, according to the department, paves the way for the department to proceed with the implementation of the SAA-Takatso transaction.

The judge has ordered that the main review application be placed under judicial case management until the matter is heard in January 2023.

However, since the interdict application was dismissed, the department said it can now continue taking steps to implement the transaction.

The DPE said it will comply with the court directive to provide a non-confidential version of the record of the transaction and the confidential version of the record within the 20 days stipulated in the court order.

According to the judgment, “the non-confidential record will contain all documents forming part of the record, save for the confidential information, which shall be expunged there from”.

This means that confidential information related to the transaction cannot be disclosed for public consumption and only non-confidential records may be shared with the public.

“It is interesting to note that certain political parties want to intervene in this matter with nefarious intentions. It is clear that this is a political agenda, which is intended to setback and disrupt the reforms of State-owned entities,” the department said, adding that it will facilitate further corruption.

“Furthermore, the question is who is Toto Investments? Who are the people involved and what is their interest in the matter? Toto Investments must be open and transparent about who they are and who they represent.”

Meanwhile, the department said it remains committed to ensuring that this transaction is implemented soon and that “disruptive forces” will not deter their efforts in ensuring that a restructured, agile and competitive national airline emerges.

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