Wheels finally come off SAA sale deal

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Newspapers

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 14, 2024


After months of ducking and diving with information on the sale of SAA to equity partner Takatso Consortium, retiring Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced the deal was called off on Wednesday, a move opposition parties hailed.

“As a result of various factors, we have come to the point where those negotiations will no longer continue.

Our search for the right partner for SAA will not happen through this process,” Gordhan said, adding that the Cabinet was updated on the matter Wednesday morning.

The deal, signed in February 2022, was subject to renegotiation of the terms of the transaction.

Takatso said in a statement that it had concluded that the revised transaction terms were no longer in the best interest of its stakeholders.

“The terms of the proposed revised transaction are simply not workable for Takatso and we could not under the circumstances allow this process to continue to drag on.”

It also confirmed that it wrote to the department last Friday, signalling its intention to trigger the termination by mutual consent.

“Takatso can confirm that the department has since reverted to it, consenting to that termination. The parties have thus agreed to terminate the share purchase agreement, previously announced on February 22, 2022 in terms of which Takatso was to acquire a 51% interest in SAA. Consequently, all work and negotiations on the proposed transaction have ceased,” Takatso said.

The deal was bound to collapse because of the secrecy surrounding it, said the DA spokesperson on public enterprises, Mimmy Gondwe.

Gordhan was at pains to explain to the portfolio committee on public enterprises that because the transaction was governed by a confidentiality regime, he was not in a position to disclose some documents to the committee until the committee signed a non-disclosure agreement.

“We are not surprised that the deal has fallen flat and from what we read from the media reports, the governing party was also concerned with the terms of the agreement.

“This goes to show that Minister Gordhan really needed to retire.

“There was no way the portfolio committee could have exercised effective oversight over this deal because it was shrouded in the veil of secrecy and governed by confidentiality regime,” Gondwe said.

“It is unfortunate because members of the public deserve to know. SAA is a public entity that belongs to the government and has benefited from bailouts from the Treasury and so members of the public deserve to know because taxpayers contributed towards those bailouts,” Gondwe added.

Cosatu acting national spokesperson Matthew Parks said the labour federation welcomed the announcement.

“We never supported the privatisation of SAA. For us we are happy that the state will fly SAA again and we look forward to getting a briefing on the way forward,” Parks said.

He said SAA had been flying again over the past two years and had been reopening some routes.

“It should be given support so that it can stand back on its feet,” Parks added.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the SAA-Takatso deal was flawed from the start.

He said it was good that in the end the deal could not be concluded.

*Additional reporting Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

Cape Times

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