South Africa: Networks Unlimited sells 53% to BEE partner

Networks Unlimited has announced a 53% broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) deal with The Love Trust, a Johannesburg based non-profit organisation. The deal, which was announced at  Unlimited’s offices in Centurion yesterday, will result in the firm now being majority black-owned.

Networks Unlimited is a value-added distributor that offers solutions within the converged technology,  centre, , and security landscapes.

Anton Jacobsz, MD of Networks Unlimited, says the agreement, which has already been finalised in all aspects, forms part of the company’s plan to reach R1bn in revenue over the coming three years.

“Partnering with The Love Trust allows us to improve our B-BBEE rating as a business. From our perspective, it is strategic to have a majority black ownership given the current business framework in SA. We then have the right credentials so that when our resellers, such the likes of EOH, Dimension Data, Business Connexion, buy from us, they score on their BEE procurement spend. The acquisition now also puts us in a position as a preferred supplier.”

The deal, according to Jacobsz, is funded by Love Trust through multiple channels, including funds already available from previous deals, dividends generated from those deals, as well as cash injections from private investors.

The Love Trust primarily focuses the provision of low-fee independent, early childhood development teacher training centres, offering accredited training to teachers and principals from township and rural communities. Its founder, Martin Morrison, is an attorney and currently the rector at Christ Church, Midrand. He is responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the trust along with Erik van den Top and Lindsay Owen.

Back to basics

Jacobsz says the along with the BEE deal, Networks Unlimited will also be rebranding and reworking its strategy to increase its footprint.

“First of all, we are going back to basics, in other words, we are focusing on what we are good at and really focusing on our integration and relationships with our partners.

“Going forward we are going to spend a lot more resources in improving the wallet share from our partners in SA. The other aspect is to get more partners in Africa on our product sets. At the moment, we have one or two key products across Africa which are doing extremely well, but we have 15 products. So, in essence, we need to pinpoint three or four more products that are run rate and can be viable in the 31 other countries we are not present in, and in so doing increase our revenue set.”

Networks Unlimited’s footprint includes Mauritius, Kenya and Ghana. The company has representatives in the SADC as well as in West Africa, but not a physical presence, which they hope to establish in the coming 36 months.

“The aim is to get the right people to replicate what we currently have in SA, in East, West and North Africa, to the extent that they operate as independent entities looking after these regions without having to rely on resources from Networks Unlimited in SA.”

New appointment

As part of the BEE deal, The Love Trust has appointed Abigail Khuluse to the Networks Unlimited board as a non-executive director. Khuluse, who is the director of Tushiyah SME Advisory Services, sits on a number of boards on behalf of the trust.

Says Khuluse: “The Love Trust has a number of investor companies across various sectors. As an NGO, we are avoiding consistently having to rely on donor funding to survive. So as a manner of generating income for itself, the organisation invests in companies particularly within a BEE structure. Through those dividends the work of the NGO is funded.”

She further outlines that her key role in the non-executive position will be more on the corporate governance side, where she is tasked with overseeing the interest of the stakeholders.

Khuluse holds an MPhil in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management from the University of Pretoria; a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the Gordon Institute of Business Science; and a Bachelor’s degree in commerce, specialising in law, from the University of Pretoria.

“Abigail is also passionate about youth development and volunteers on a number of initiatives that support the youth. She is a wonderful fit with Networks Unlimited as we embark on this new phase of our journey in which the upliftment of communities and the education of vulnerable children is so important. We believe that technology and education must work hand in hand in moving communities and countries forward,” noted Jacobsz.

Source: IT