BLUTHORN CREDITORS UNLIKELY TO RECOVER THEIR MILLIONS
The liquidation of disgraced fund management company, Bluthorn Fund Managers (BFM), means that assets will have to be sold to recover over P200 million owed to creditors. A peek into the company’s assets however paints a gloomy picture.
A careful perusal of a document labelled Trading Update, Business and Capital Restructuring , authored byJoseph Mosimane, the CEO of the liquidating Bluthorn, reveals that Bluthorn’s game plan was to actually ‘buy time’ through a request to be allowed to restructure by the Non-Bank Financial institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA).
In the confidential document, which Mosimane authored strictly for the eyes of NBIFIRA officials, he proposed to review Bluthorn’s business model, internal management structures and inter-company relationships with its related companies into which millions in cash were channelled. The money, running into millions of pula, was found to have benefitted Eugene Engelbrecht, Kelebogile Sibisibi and Henk J. van der Merwe who jointly own all the shares in the real holding company, B Thorn (Pty) Ltd, which owns the majority of shares in Bluthorn Fund Managers.
In its operations, Bluthorn Fund Managers (BFM) was found to have used a network of five primarily related parties in the BFM ‘family’ of companies.
They are BluThorn Fund Managers (Pty) Ltd, BluThorn Procurement (Pty) Ltd, B Thorn (Pty) Ltd, BluThorn Holdings (Pty) Ltd and Prime Employee Benefits (Pty) Ltd. In his proposal to restructure this internal conflict of interest, Mosimane’s aim was to convince NBFIRA to reconsider its decision to liquidate Bluthorn.
Another part of Bluthorn’s failed game plan was to engage with its creditors concerning an extension of the periods of payment. Bluthorn was supposed to have paid P96 million to some of its investors, money which all matured between January and March 2020. Since the money was squandered, Bluthorn’s plan was to buy time by extending the duration of payment by 12 to 24 months. This proposed ‘capital restructuring’ was premised on the hope that it would increase focus and monitoring of investments and their performance by eliminating the need to find additional funding or new investments.
BFM also proposed the sale of shares and interests held in third party companies. Further, the BFM Board had decided to approach local and international financial institutions to finance some of its cash-strapped third party investments. The BFM board also wanted to approach the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) to finance some of its third party SMME investments in order to restructure their capital base.
Subsequent to considering the proposal made by Bluthorn, NBFIRA chose to proceed with the liquidation anyway. Liquidation is simply the disposal of available assets to try and return creditors’ money. A perusal of the available documentation shows that current Bluthorn assets fall short of the P223 million it owes to creditors
BLUTHORN ASSETS ARE VALUELESS TO COVER CREDITORS
Companies in which Bluthorn had also invested, have a combined asset value insufficient to cover its P223 million debt. Bluthorn had invested in a company called De Beef (Pty) Ltd. According to an affidavit authored by Mosimane filed before Court, De Beer owes Bluthorn an amount of P26 432 043. It was contracted by the government for the supply of fertilizer to farmers in Kanye under the ISPAAD programme. He said the company supplied fertilizer worth P3.5 million and it is yet to be paid by the Ministry of Agriculture while it is yet to deliver another fertilizer worth P3 million. “The company is unable to start repayment to Bluthorn due to government’s late payment,” Mosimane wrote, adding that it has a plant valued at P10 million and a further P3 million stock.
So in essence, De Beef has a plant valued P10 million an outstanding payment of P3 million and stock valued at P3 million. Assuming that all this is recovered, only P16 million may be raised, and that is if the value of the plant has not deteriorated.
Bluthorn also gave out a loan amounting to P6 031 345, using clients’ money, to a company called Quali-Packaging (Pty) Ltd. Mosimane wrote that after government banned importation of bottled water in 2018, the company sought to procure machinery and plants to produce bottled water locally.
“The plant, valued at P5.7 million, was purchased but could not be cleared at Customs after NBFIRA pounced on Bluthorn. Is the plant is still in good condition? It is possible that P5.7 million may be recovered but the value of the plant, which is over 1 year old, has possibly declined.
CMK Prospects was also loaned money by Bluthorn amounting to P12 881 578 for procurement of over 20 000 digital set top boxes after government facilitated CMK’s purchasing of the sets in partnership with the Japanese Ambassador, according to Mosimane’s affidavit. It was around 2018 when government made a decision to migrate its television services from analogue to digital but the plans were later postponed to post-elections. The money has since disappeared into this air.
Mosimane also stated that Thompson Medical Supplies (Pty) Ltd was financed with P11 838 640 for the supply of medical equipment to Bokamoso Private Hospital and Sidilega Private Hospital. Mosimane said there was delay because of the completion of Sidilega but repayment of the loans would soon commence. Chances of this money being recovered are high.
Further, Securus (Pty) Ltd, a civil construction company, was loaned P20 334 231 for sub-construction of the road from Jwaneng Circle into Debswana Mine. The project is only 80 percent complete while there is no further funding.
Hard Rock (Pty) Ltd, which owes Bluthorn P2 464 092, is said to be awaiting a P2.8 million payment for completed construction of a road from Moshana Quarry to the main Kgotla in Kanye. The money will possibly be recovered.
According to Mosimane, these were sound investments and efforts are being made to recover the funds. This is in sharp contrast to then liquidator Peter Collins’ position that the loans are unrecoverable.
At its most, Bluthorn might only recover around P30 million, considering the value of its assets.