Betfred counters Oppenheimer bid in race to rescue Phumelela

South African business news sources report that Betfred is preparing a counter-offer ranging between ZAR 875-to-925 million (€44-46m) to acquire embattled heritage wagering and racetrack operator Phumelela Gaming & Leisure. 

Forced to close its venues due to coronavirus restrictions last May, Johannesburg high court placed Phumelela assets under bankruptcy protection, allowing the company to seek investors to avoid outright liquidation.

This August, Phumelela auditors published the firm’s accounts which revealed that the racetrack operator carried corporate debts of ZAR 677 million (€34m), owing its creditors total of ZAR 1.17 billion (€55m).

Betfred’s rescue package is significantly greater than the ZAR 550 million plan proposed last week by ‘Mary Oppenheimer Daughters’ (OMD), the investment fund of equine enthusiasts Mary Oppenheimer-Slack and her daughter Jessica Jell –members of South Africa’s richest mining family.

Putting forward its counter-offer, Betfred has stated its plans to acquire all Phumelela racetrack properties outright paying back the firm’s debts in which the Oppenheimer MOD fund is registered as a creditor having issued the racetrack company ZAR 100 million at the start of the pandemic.  

Stating its case to auditors, Betfred underlines its strong credentials as a proven racetrack betting operator, having run the UK Tote from 2011-to-2019.

The Manchester bookmaker said that it will maintain all Phumelela employees against the backdrop of a challenging South African business environment recovering from the pandemic. 

Phumela governance have been given until 1 September to accept or reject Betfred’s offer, the day in which creditors were due to discuss rescue plan offers. 

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