BEE Firm Secures Avis Deal

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Ekuya Investments, a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) firm, last Friday bought a 25 percent stake in Avis Namibia for a substantial but yet undisclosed sum of money. This latest BEE empowerment deal came to light when Barloworld Leading Brands, which is a diversified industrial company and the mother-company of Avis, made the announcement at a media conference, held last Thursday. On Friday night former Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob officially launched the deal, what is being widely regarded as the BEE transaction of the year in the local automotive sector. The latest deal also includes Avis Rent-a-Car, Avis Fleet Services and Zeda Car Sales. Ekuya Investments brings together a diverse group of previously disadvantaged individuals that includes Nam-mic, an investment arm of NUNW, One Namibia Investment led by Isaac Kaulinge and Ombinga Investment led by Dr Hylton Villet. Speaking at the media conference last week the Managing Director of Barloworld Namibia and Director of Zeda Namibia, Deena Chetty, said about 10 other BEE companies showed interest in the deal. “This is a real deal with real people. Barloworld and Avis accept that BEE is a necessary intervention in rectifying the imbalances that exist as a result of apartheid policies. Though this is the case, we must focus on the future and not live in the past,” said Chetty. He further noted that Barloworld would ensure that BEE in its businesses would be facilitated in a commercially sensible manner thus ensuring that more sustainable value is created for all concerned. All these concerned stakeholders include employees, customers, suppliers, the community and shareholders. Thus, Chetty explained, the transaction aims to enhance the leading position of Avis in the markets they serve and to create a value for all the stakeholders at the end of the day. On his part, Head of Nam-mic and Co-Director of Zeda Namibia, Sackey Aipinge, at the same occasion said that the consortium is privileged to be part of this groundbreaking transaction. He added that this is ideally how empowerment should be approached and structured in Namibia. “We believe we are well positioned and we commit ourselves,” said Aipinge, adding that Ekuya Investments was formed to house the interests of BEE. Both Chetty and Aipinge agreed that that if the targets are not met then all the stakeholders are at risk without any value addition. However, if the targets are met there there will be significant gains for all concerned. He was confident that the coming together would create a significant long-term value. The former Prime Minister Geingob is quoted as saying in a press release that the latest deal is a unique value addition for the country’s BEE sector. He therefore commended Barloworld for taking the lead in developing such a unique approach. Geingob’s comments also made reference to the lack of a legislative framework that makes BEE a requirement for businesses in Namibia. “Barloworld is not making this commitment because they have to be compliant. Instead, Barloworld takes a leadership position by initiating and cementing this deal,” Geingob said.