Chairperson at SA Canegrowers : Andrew Russell
January 12, 2024
SA Canegrowers notes the vote by the creditors of Tongaat Hulett to approve the business rescue proposal for the acquisition of the miller by the Vision Group.
While the vote marks a critical step forward in the effort to save Tongaat Hulett, SA Canegrowers awaits confirmation by the Vision Group of its commitment to pay the industry levies owed to the South African Sugar Association (SASA) by Tongaat Hulett.
The entry of Tongaat Hulett into business rescue in October 2022 left the industry in a precarious state and caused great uncertainty for the growers who rely on the company’s mills on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. These hardships were exacerbated by the decision of the business rescue practitioners to challenge the legal validity of the financial obligations – more than R900 million – owed by Tongaat Hulett to the industry body.
The withdrawal by the RGS Group of their proposal for the acquisition of Tongaat Hulett dealt a further blow to the process just one day before the vote on the business rescue proposals. That offer had included a firm commitment to honour the obligations of Tongaat Hulett to pay the industry levies owed to the South African Sugar Association.
The Vision Group has yet to commit to payment of the outstanding levies before any appeals of the declarator order have been exhausted, leaving open the possibility of further costly and time-consuming litigation. Nevertheless, while this critical matter remains unresolved, SA Canegrowers is encouraged by the BRPs success in securing a partner to help save the mills operated by Tongaat Hulett. Tens of thousands of small-scale growers and workers depend on these mills, therefore maintaining their operations is critically important.
SA Canegrowers will closely follow developments in the coming weeks as the business rescue process hopefully nears its end point. Our priority remains the successful conclusion of the business rescue process that revives Tongaat Hulett and protects the livelihoods that depend on its operations.
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