Metair share deal with royal community enrages Numsa

Auto component manufacturer, Metair, has recently concluded a narrow black economic empowerment deal with the Royal Bafokeng Holding.

Metair is owned by the Wessels Family Trust, which formally held a majority shareholding in Toyota South Africa. And, it has found new relationship with the Royal Bafokeng Holding (RBH) which has acquired 606 581 shares in listed Metair for R152,million cash.

Wesco Investment, which owns a 25 percent stake in Toyota South Africa, sold its 39 percent stake in Metair in December to specialist equity investment company, Coronation Capital (Corocap) for R591 million cash.

In both of these of these massive transactions, the elite benefited at the exclusion of employees and ordinary union members who had through their sweat created the wealth for the Wessels Family Trust.

When Toyota Japan bought a majority stake back from the Wessels family, not a single employee in Toyota was rewarded for their effort in making the company a good business proposition for Toyota Japan.

As if this was not enough, the Wessels in anticipation of the release of BBEE Codes now sells a stake to Bafokeng Holdings to create an impression in the market that they are empowered in terms of the Codes.

You could trace the Wessels Family Trust to Albert Wessels, a founder of Toyota South Africa, his son Bert was the company’s chief executive until his death and Elizabeth Bradley, his daughter, is Wesco chairman. In this case, the family silver has for decades rotated within the members of the Wessels automotive empire.

Metair was created to take advantage of buy-out by Toyota Japan and to ensure that the Wessels remain wedded in the Automotive industry. To placate government and to create a false impression in the market of their empowerment credentials, the Royals are brought in as shareholders who had never contributed to the growth and development of Toyota South Africa. This transaction, in the pipeline for quite some time, was concluded even without a hint to the company employees.

We want to believe that this is an attempt on the part of the Wessels little empire to build their empowerment credentials and to ensure that no employees benefit from this transaction. We want to warn the Wessels that this transaction will not be concluded without a fight. We will demand what belongs to employees and who have contributed in building the Wessel’s little empire.

We will call upon the Department of Trade and Industry to revisit these codes and would seek an urgent meeting with the DTI and the Wessels Family Trust and Metair to ascertain their real commitment to meaningful broad-based economic empowerment and not this faí§ade with Royal Bafokeng Holdings.

In the 2007 bargaining round with employers in all our sectors:-metal, electronics-automotive and component suppliers, we will place a union demand on the principles that must underpin broad-based empowerment which must primarily benefit employees.

Numsa call upon the Wessels Family, Metair and other manufacturers contemplating a black economic empowerment deal to halt these transactions for an industry wide charter between Numsa and employers that will drive empowerment.

For further information contact:-

Mziwakhe Hlangani, Numsa national information officer or

Silumko Nondwangu, Numsa General Secretary

Telephone 011-6891700