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Fujitsu Siemens deal could herald new era in BEE
Fujitsu Siemens Computers has become what it believes is the first multinational Tier One computer vendor to conclude a BEE deal, at equity level, with an SME empowerment group.
The company this morning announced the successful sale of 25% plus one share in the local operation to Thuthukani Investment Consortium, which combines the resources of Thuthukani IT Services and Amava Holdings.
The value of the deal was not disclosed, other than that there was a small BEE discount and that the consortium paid cash for its shares.
Both of the consortium partners are active and successful IT companies, having been built from the ground up by the same entrepreneurs who now run them and will engage with Fujitsu Siemens.
Puven Ramasamy, Group CEO of Amava Holdings, comments that the transaction marks the end of the first phase of BEE in South Africa, where holding companies acquired shares in local companies but remained hands-off in the operational sense.
"This could probably represent the next phase of empowerment, with black entrepreneurs who have cut their teeth in the industry stepping up."
Thuthukani IT Services is an approximately R80-million company, while Amava is worth about R35-million.
Idris Suleman, MD of Fujitsu Siemens Computers, says the empowerment transaction began when his predecessor, Mark Wilson convinced the board of directors of the need to engage with an empowerment grouping, about two-and-a-half years ago.
“The board gave its approval, but tasked us with finding the right partner, one who would grow with us,” says Suleman. “In addition, the board required that we do not engage in any form of 'window-dressing', but that we conclude a deal that will be meaningful for the company and the broader socio-political environment of the country.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance (PwC) was the lead adviser responsible for identifying appropriate BEE parties, advising on a sustainable and value adding transaction structure and negotiating the transaction. The appointment also ensured strict adherence to governance principles and to give a level of comfort and independence to the board of the holding company.
Bernd Bischoff, president and CEO of Fujitsu Siemens BV, comments: “The South African and African markets are extremely important to our overall business strategy. We take our sense of responsibility very seriously and we wish to have a positive influence on every aspect of the business environments in which we operate.
"Through engaging in a transaction of this nature, I believe that we are making a positive contribution to South African society, particularly as this ensures that the fruits of our endeavours will be shared across a broader base of the economic spectrum."
Fannie Mahlangu, MD of Thuthukani Information Technology Services, says: “We were presented with a unique opportunity to invest. What we found appealing about Fujitsu Siemens Computers, was that the company has tremendous potential for growth and is complementary to our business. Additionally, there was a strong cultural and philosophical match between us.”
Ramasamy adds: “With this transaction, we continue to emphasise our focus on the IT sector. We have been very successful in the past in transactions within this sector and Fujitsu Siemens Computers, with their portfolio of hardware and services will complement several of our investments.”
Mahlangu will be appointed to the board of directors of Fujitsu Siemens Computers in South Africa.