A key stakeholder behind Red Disa Investments acquiring a majority stake in Western Province Rugby has praised DHL Stormers coach John Dobson’s role in brokering the equity deal.
An official press release on Thursday confirmed that Red Disa Investments, led by Fynbos Ekwiteit and Ardagh Glass Packaging, are in the final stages of discussions to acquire a 74% stake in WP Professional Rugby, the proud owner of the Stormers and WP professional teams.
In a wide-ranging interview with Netwerk24, Johan le Roux of Fynbos Ekwiteit revealed how former Stormers lock Selborne Boome initially got his interest piqued, and then Dobson’s captivating Stormers rugby philosophy laid the groundwork for the deal.
“That was followed by a text message from John Dobson to my father [Michiel, founder of Capitec], in which he asked if he could get 20 minutes of his time and he just wanted to explain one thing to him,” Le Roux told Netwerk24’s Stephen Nell.
“The request to look at the opportunity [to invest in WP] came from a good place and it felt like WP deserved to be saved. It means too much to too many people to see it go to waste.
“John cares a lot about WP, the players and the whole community. He pulled all the heartstrings. The team does not belong to just one person. It belongs to everyone who supports the team and that’s how it should be. He convinced us. Everything happened very quickly.”
He added: “Every cent that Fynbos spends is for the advancement of the South African community. We want to support a professional rugby team and I think the success that results from that will make people proud, because the union is important to them.”
In October 2021, SA Rugby assumed administrative control of WPRU, which controls 100% of the team’s commercial arm.
The decision was made as WP were on the brink of a financial collapse, facing liquidation and forfeiting their assets worth millions.
Red Disa’s purchase price of its stake in WP Rugby is reportedly R148 million, of which R40m will go to the WPRU to settle the professional arm’s historical debt to it. The rest will be used to recapitalise WP Rugby. A further R70m is understood to also be allocated by means of preference shares and bridging financing.
“We said from the outset that we would get involved, but we must have control,” Le Roux said.
“Difficult decisions will have to be made. We’ll have to move fast because it’s a mountain to climb. You cannot engage in internal fighting.
“There will be consultation, but in the end one entity – in this case Red Disa – must be able to make the decision. Without it, we will not engage. It’s a big check we’re writing. To give the business the best chance of survival, we must have absolute control.”
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