Dear Editor

Letters to the editor should be sent by email to editor@noseweek.co.za

McLaren does it again!

I have just returned from a site inspection of The Leonardo, Africa’s tallest skyscraper newly towering above the richest square mile in Sandton,  just 100 metres from the JSE.

The occupation certificate has been issued and the lights are on. The sectional title register has still to be recorded in the Deeds Office, so I don’t yet know who bought the penthouse suite sold off-plan for R250 million.

In the Johannesburg General Valuation Roll 2018 the council’s service provider eValuations valued it as Vacant Land, at R4,792,000. Remarkable, since, according to the deeds registry, the owners bought the land in 2013 for R110m.

There was only one objection to their 2018 valuation – lodged by me.

The outcome: eValuations revalued the bulk development land for this mixed-use precinct (penthouses, apartments, 11 floors of offices and retail including a MacDonalds) for the tallest building in Africa – height: 234 metres (11m taller than Transnet’s Carlton Centre built by Anglo American and SA Breweries in 1973) at just R11.9m on 28 Feb 2019 – one-tenth of what had been paid for it six years earlier and only 5% of what the owners got for just the three-floor penthouse! I have lodged another appeal.

In case there is any doubt about the valuator’s incompetence (or worse), Nedbank currently hold bonds on the property for a total of R2.2 billion!

A title deeds search for Sandown Erf 6 Rem. Ext. 5948m² reveals that the owner is Seventy Five On Maude Pty Ltd.

The directors are listed as Albertus H Dorrestein, Kenneth L Reynolds, Patricia L Stone and Neil G Yates.

Dr Robert McLaren
Rates crusader

Thank you Rob!

Tshwane land purchases

Thank you for the detailed reports researched by Susan Puren. I’ve been involved in marketing residential properties around Pretoria for more than 40 years and the calculation of feasibility studies for different township developers. Why on earth would a purchaser rely on a valuation undertaken by the Seller?

The purchase price of R48 million recommended by Metse Mabeba and Nava Pillay is more than four times higher than the real value determined by Mankuroane Matseba.

The three people involved (Mabeba, Pillay and Mothoagae) in this dubious transaction should be thoroughly investigated and be held responsible for the loss if found guilty.

The proposed zoning of 60 units/ha would result in a development of more than two storeys and, in case of 1,026 units, of more than three storeys!



Pillay’s pension

A case of “all politicians are corrupt, but some politicians are more corrupt than others”?

David Arundel

Coventry, UK

• Pillay’s pension caper (nose 242) sounds like the EFF in disguise. The man in the street must work from 8-5 every week day and pay exorbitant taxes so that government ministers and their cronies can benefit from schemes such as this. It is a disgrace. Pravin Gordhan and his mates are devious.

Andre Crause

• If this is an offence in law, bring it on and charge him. Or was he, like many of his ilk, just playing the system to his own advantage?

Klaus Muller

Jukskei Park

• At most, Pravin Gordhan may be guilty of “accommodating” an old “struggle colleague” by using his discretion somewhat unwisely. He derived no personal benefit.
I don’t believe he has ever claimed to be a saint.

Elio Boezio
Kragga Kamma Park

At a R1.1m cost to the tax payer, setting a precedent that could cost billions. Ed.

• Neither Pillay nor Gordhan have pillaged millions, as many other cadres have done. This is really “small fry”.

Theresia Wysoke

Old Mutual is dismayed

We note with dismay, your comments in the December Noseweek about our decision to withdraw our application to close the Old Mutual Gold Fund.

While we are aware of a previous Noseweek article regarding investors’ concerns around the decision to amalgamate the fund with the Old Mutual Equity Fund, given our appreciation of editorial freedom and the right to express opinion, we were comfortable that the opinions in that article be voiced. So also with David Melvill’s recent article on the topic.

[1] However, certain statements in your most recent article titled “Look what we’ve done” (December 2019) are baseless. Journalistic integrity requires serious allegations like these to be supported by facts, however your comments concerning our decision to close the fund include accusations of “fraud” and a strategy to profit from the deliberate misleading of our clients, which we believe to be wholly unfounded. We were also not afforded a right of reply before publication.

[2] Should you not be able to provide the facts supporting these statements, we respectfully request that you print a retraction on these specific points.
For your reference, we set out the facts which informed our rationale for taking this decision:
[3] As you may be aware, Old Mutual Investment Group is the last remaining asset manager in South Africa to offer a Gold equity unit trust. Like our peers – who have already taken the decision to close their Gold Funds – we conducted extensive analysis of the gold and resources sector before coming to this decision.

We concluded that these sectors are unlikely to offer an optimal solution for clients looking for consistent returns over the long term. This is despite the recent performance we have seen in the gold sector.

[4] The subsequent ballot of investors in the Gold Fund in respect of an amalgamation into the Equity Fund was based on a specified regulatory process. The votes are sent to and audited by independent auditors, with the final outcome subject to approval from the FSCA.

[5] The ballot process was successful, based on industry standards and practice, however, we were concerned about the number of clients that voted against the ballot and, as such, we took the decision to respect the voices of our clients and withdraw our merger application to the FSCA.

[6] While we ultimately believe that amalgamation of these funds into the Old Mutual Equity Fund is in the best interests of our clients, we have nonetheless heard their concerns and given our commitment to consistently putting our clients first, we believe that responding to these concerns is the fairest outcome for clients.

Jenna Wilson
Head of PR
Old Mutual Wealth and Investments

Noseweek is pleased to hear of your support for editorial freedom and note your appreciation of your client (and Noseweek reader) David Melvill’s right to have expressed an opinion about your proposed fund merger.

On to your complaints in the numbered paragraphs above:
[1] On a closer reading you might note that the accusations of “fraud” and a suspected strategy to profit from the deliberate misleading of your clients – which you believe to be wholly unfounded – are a quote from a letter addressed to the FSCA by the selfsame David Melvill, whose views you have previously so appreciated. We might add that, based on the facts, as stated in our articles, this was not an unreasonable deduction.

The merger would not be in the current interests of the Gold Fund investors, and the so-called majority vote was a legal presumption – what you call a “specified regulatory process,” contrary to the reality.

[4] Given the presumption that a non-vote is a yes vote, and the fact that the majority of clients invariably don’t vote at all, the audit provides a farcical cover for fiction.

The fact that the process is based on “Industry standards and practice” is equally deplorable.
Confronted with the reality by your clients and
Noseweek, you in fact concede the point in [5] and [6] by not acting in accordance with the so-called “majority” vote certified by the auditors, but rather taking into account the concerns of the true majority who actually voted against the merger.

The explanation you offer in [4]: that the decision to close the Gold Fund was based on “extensive analysis of the local gold and resources sector” does not accord with what you told clients in the letter advising them of your fund merger plans: there you spoke of client confusion and your fund managers’ administrative convenience.

An ongoing analysis of the local gold sector would have told you that the timing of the merger you were proposing was particularly bad for Gold Fund investors – unless you had another agenda.

I find no reason to apologise for or retract anything in our articles on the subject. I do, however, appreciate your having taken the trouble to write to Noseweek to exercise you right of reply. Ed.

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