Sagarmatha woes promise to be long-running soapie

Media company's lofty ambitions left market aghast but that won't stop it trying again

15 April 2018 - 00:06 By MARC HASENFUSS and marc hasenfuss

The saga of Sagarmatha Technologies, the Iqbal Survè-founded media company which had its fanciful listings plan scuppered by the JSE this week, is far from over.
Although the company said it would address questions around its future in due course, it seems there are strenuous efforts to formulate a plan B. This could include another tilt at securing a JSE listing, even though local market watchers were aghast at the size of the capital-raising exercise and the inferred market value.
Another option is a costly exercise to secure a listing on an international bourse such as the Nasdaq, where tech-savvy investors may view the company's blue-sky prospects more sympathetically.
Sagarmatha's conglomeration of mostly unprofitable technology and media assets carried an inferred value of R47-billion, with plans to raise between R3-billion and R7.5-billion in a private share placement.
The JSE cited a technical factor around noncompliance with the Companies Act to halt the listing. A miffed Sagarmatha disputed the JSE's ruling, suggesting that indicative commitments of R4-billion had been received from prospective shareholders.
The quantum of commitments is somewhat surprising considering the overwhelmingly sceptical response to the listing in the mainstream market. Before the listing was pulled, Sagarmatha, which had backing from well-heeled US investors and the investment arms of trade unions, had not indicated any institutional support for its listing. It is also believed the Public Investment Corporation, which strongly backs black-controlled enterprises, had not committed to invest in it...

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