Rugby

Remgro shock: WP Rugby back in soup?

2017-08-05 11:45
Thelo Wakefield (Gallo)

Cape Town – There was stony silence from the Western Province Rugby Union on Saturday after confirmation that powerful investment company backers Remgro are withdrawing from Newlands.

Netwerk24 has reported that Remgro, in a move confirmed by their CEO Jannie Durand, will not be converting loans to embattled WP into stake-holding.

It will also mean that loans amounting to more than R40-million last year, which served as a rescue remedy at the time, have to be repaid.

Approached for reaction from WP Rugby chief executive Paul Zacks by Sport24 on Saturday, media officer Michael de Vries said: “There is no comment at this time.”

WPRU president Thelo Wakefield had also refused comment over Remgro’s decision on Friday.

With the unexpected development, the WPRU simultaneously loses the business expertise of Remgro, which previously had a 24.9 percent stake in the WP Rugby business wing, controversially liquidated in 2016.

During the crisis period immediately leading up to it, Remgro pumped money in to ensure that salaries of staff and players could still be paid.

Durand was quoted by Netwerk24’s Stephen Nell as saying: “We must now sit down with WP and chat about how the money will be repaid. Naturally we will be reasonable and not dump (them) overnight into a new crisis.

“Western Province will now have to seek a new business partner, or the union will have to run their affairs themselves.”

Durand said that certain areas of disagreement with WP had not been the reason for their withdrawal, and that the core problem was the South African Rugby Union’s franchise model and the stipulations associated with shareholding.

Several months ago, Saru adjusted its constitution to allow for outside parties to up their shareholdings to a maximum of 74 percent in provincial unions.

According to Durand, Saru had the power to withdraw the Super Rugby participation status of a franchise at any juncture, with 12 months’ notice.

“We cannot expose our shareholders to that sort of risk,” he said.

Also according to the future model, all intellectual capital within a union’s business wing belongs to Saru.

Wakefield ebulliently announced in late December last year that the future of WP Rugby had been “saved” after a new entity owned by the union – backed by Remgro – effectively bought the liquidated company.

Remgro Sport Investments were earmarked for a 49 percent share in it.

“Western Province Rugby is safe and sound,” Wakefield had said at the time. “We look forward to working with Remgro to build the company on a sound basis and sound foundation.”

Sport24 has sought comment from Saru’s general manager (corporate affairs), Andy Colquhoun, but had not yet received a reply at the time of writing.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

 

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