Brait to sell stakes in Consol, Primedia

Johannesburg – Brait plans to sell stakes in a South African glassmaker and a cinema-chain owner over the next two years as the company controlled by billionaire Christo Wiese looks to invest in higher-growth markets.

The company is pursuing a strategy of acquiring majority stakes in overseas companies including health-club provider Virgin Active and UK clothing retailer New Look, bought last year for a combined 1.5 billion pounds ($2.2 billion). In October it paid 172 million pounds to raise its stake in budget supermarket chain Iceland Foods to 57 percent, increasing its exposure to the UK high street.

The shares, which more than doubled last year, fell 3.8 percent to R149.99 as of 2:20 p.m. in Johannesburg, valuing the company at R78 billion ($4.9 billion).

Brait has about R8.5 billion in cash and debt for acquisitions, CEO John Gnodde said by phone on Thursday.

The Brait IV Fund has owned 30 percent of Consol Glass and about 25 percent of Primedia since 2007, Gnodde said. Brait holds almost 10 percent of this fund, he said.

Gnodde declined to comment on the possibility of a Consol or Primedia listing following the sales, or on whether Brait had received offers.

Earlier, Johannesburg-based Business Day newspaper reported that bankers are working on initial public offerings of the two companies.