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Jan 24, 2008

Barloworld upbeat on acquisitive growth prospects

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Barloworld|Caterpillar|Africa|Europe|Clive Thomson|Dumisa Ntsebeza|Trevor Munday|Asia Pacific|Middle East
barloworld|caterpillar|africa|europe|clive-thomson|dumisa-ntsebeza|trevor-munday|asia-pacific|middle-east
© Reuse this Newly restructured Barloworld was investigating "a couple" of potential acquisitions, and could be pouncing on one of them by the end of September, CEO Clive Thomson said on Thursday.

The firm had up to R1-billion that it could use for acquisitive growth, he said.

"There are a couple of things that we are investigating literally as we speak," stated Thomson.

"If we go through satisfactory due diligences then we could very well see something happen this financial year," added he, speaking in an interview, after the group's annual general meeting in Sandton.

Thomson highlighted one sector that Barloworld was looking to target was logistics, which he said was growing rapidly, in Southern Africa, as well as other areas globally.

Primarily, these regions included the Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Europe.

Transformation on track

Meanwhile, the company's implementation of its much-awaited black economic-empowerment deal was on schedule to be wrapped up in the first half of 2008, chairperson Dumisa Ntsebeza told shareholders.

"The transaction will be broad based involving a number of parties, including employees, community and social investment partners, strategic, black equity partners, and black nonexecutive directors," he added.

The firm came under fire from outspoken black businessmen last year, after it appointed Trevor Munday as deputy chairperson, calling the appointment "racist, condescending and patronising".

Munday has since resigned from the Barloworld board.

Equipment growth strong

Barloworld, which is the second-biggest distributor out of Caterpillar's 196 dealers globally, said that its equipment division in southern Africa continued to benefit from buoyant mining and construction activity.

"The equipment division in Southern African territories continues to experience strong growth in the mining and construction sectors," Ntsebeza stated.

"As global demand has resulted in extended lead times, we are working proactively with Caterpillar to meet customer expectations and delivery dates."

"The order book remains strong and we expect good performance to continue for this financial year," he added.

Local interest rates bite

Its South African automotive division, however, had taken strain from the introduction of the National Credit Act (NCA) last year, as well as rising debt levels.

"Passenger vehicle sales in Southern Africa remain under pressure, in response to the cumulative impact of high consumer debt, interest rate increases and the NCA," Ntsebeza said.

"We expect these tough conditions to continue in the months ahead."

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
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