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Hotel to home

CEO of the Don Group, Thabiso Tlelai, says the process of converting its hotels into residential units has been completed while negotiations with potential buyers are continuing.

“We are in talks and negotiations with various parties, mostly about disposable property. We have had a number of offers both on individual property and the total property portfolio,” Tlelai told Moneyweb after the group’s annual general meeting on Friday.

Tlelai added an announcement in this regard would be made in about two weeks’ time. The group renewed its October 2011 cautionary on Monday morning. At that time Tlelai also said a decision by the board was imminent.

I can say from the company’s point of view we are making good progress. Property things unfortunately take time, everything in this space takes a huge amount of time, negotiations take a huge amount of time”, he explained.

As for the letting of the residential units Tlelai said only one of its properties in Sandton north of Pretoria, had not been fully converted due to a prior agreement. “The process of rentals is going well. I am happy with the prices we are getting”, Tlelai said.

In October last year the company said it owed the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) R70m. Asked how the group intended to settle its debt, Tlelai said the group was considering several options. One was selling the properties and repaying the IDC. The other was finding a financial institution to take over the debt or to subscribe new shares making finance available.
Tlelai said the IDC had requested the Don Group to pay the money back earlier than originally agreed due to the business changing from hospitality to residential letting.

Despite the difficulties, Tlelai said the group was not considering de-listing from the JSE. “It is not on our agenda to de-list. What we intend doing is to strengthen our hand in the property market.”

The company’s listing on the JSE had not been without controversy some eight years ago, as banks threatened to liquidate the group, Tlelai stepped forward with a R1 offer for 30% of the company.


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