Bill Venter steps down as Altron chairman - TechCentral

Bill Venter steps down as Altron chairman

Altron CEO Robbie Venter, left, and former Altech CEO Craig Venter, right, with their father, Altron founder Bill Venter

Bill Venter will next week step down as chairman of Altron, the group he founded more than 50 years ago. He will be replaced by Mike Leeming, a retired banker who has been on the Altron board since 2002.

Venter will assume a nonexecutive director role on Altron’s board, as chairman emeritus, with effect from next Wednesday, 1 March.

His son, Robbie Venter, will continue as CEO of Altron for now. Robbie Venter has, however, indicated he intends to hand over the leadership reins once a suitable replacement candidate has been found.

Leeming has been lead independent director of Altron since 2009. He has served on a number of boards of JSE-listed companies in a nonexecutive capacity.

In December, Altron announced arguably the biggest shake-up in its 51-year history, setting out plans to introduce a new strategic partner and to collapse its control structure, ending the Venter family’s absolute control over the business.

Altron, founded in 1965, said a new strategic partner, Value Capital Partners (VCP), would invest R400m.

Altron and VCP reached an “in-principle agreement” in terms of which VCP would subscribe for shares in the company and Altron’s current control structure would be unwound. After the deal, VCP would hold about 15% of Altron’s equity.

The principals and co-founders of VCP, an investment firm that deploys best-practice private equity principles in the listed equity space, are Antony Ball and Sam Sithole, previously CEO and chief financial officer respectively of Brait.

They would join Altron’s board of directors as nonexecutives on completion of the deal, Altron said.

The proposed deal would result in the collapse of Altron’s current control structure into a single class of no par-value, voting shares. After implementation, current low-voting N-shares would become full voting shares on a ratio of 90 voting shares for every 100 N-shares.

Bill Venter and the Venter family hold 17,8% of the economic rights, including treasury shares (19,4% excluding treasury shares), and exercise 57% of the voting rights in Altron. After the transaction, these voting rights would be diluted, Altron said in December.

“As such, the company has reached an in-principle agreement with Dr Venter and the Venter family in terms whereof it is anticipated that, subject to regulatory approval, a mechanism will be implemented so as to afford Dr Venter and the Venter family 25,1% of the voting rights in the company post the implementation of the proposed transaction, provided that they continue to hold at least 10% of the ordinary shares in the company,” Altron said.

Altron closed on Thursday at R10,75/share, unchanged on the session. In the past year, the counter has added 95%.  — © 2016 NewsCentral Media

  • The writer owns shares in Altron

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