For Wiese and now Moleketi, challenge of chairing Brait not just internal

By Alec Hogg

Two months ago when Christo Wiese stepped down as chairman of his JSE-listed investment holding company Brait, the 76 year old offered “time constraints” as the reason. That’s a malady also faced by his successor, former politician Jabu Moleketi.

The one-time SA deputy finmin’s name makes an unwelcome appearance in a scathing letter by UDM leader Bantu Holomisa. It was ostensibly written to SA’s president to expose plundering of the retirement funds of State pensioners. The now widely circulated missive is full of untested allegations of corruption against four leading businessmen.

Unsurprisingly, Moleketi doesn’t mention the letter in his inaugural Brait chairman’s statement, released yesterday. He focuses instead on the reason for a share price down three quarters since 2015 – an implosion at Brait’s biggest asset, UK retailer New Look. Bought three years ago for ยฃ763m it is now officially valued at zero.

Moleketi tells Brait shareholders there has been “significant progress” at New Look since November’s appointment of Alastair McGeorge as its executive chairman. McGeorge managed a financial turnaround of the 896-store retailer between 2011 and 2013. Long suffering shareholders will be hoping his brand of lightning gets to strike twice.