Business Insider Edition

A US cannabis funder with a weird history in Nigeria now owns 11% of a troubled SA property developer

Phillip de Wet , Business Insider SA
 Apr 16, 2018, 08:03 AM
  • The Alt-X-listed Visual International Holdings on Friday declared an 11.05% shareholding by Milost Africa.
  • Visual developed the Stellendale Village project in Kuils River, halfway between Cape Town and Stellenbosch, but stumbled when it tried to get into affordable housing.
  • Milost is a New York based "alternative capital" and buyout expert that recently ran into trouble in Nigeria.

Milost Global Africa now owns 11.05% of its issued share capital, Visual International Holdings said in an innocuous stock exchange announcement on Friday that hints at a strange deal.

Milost has been pushing up its shareholding in Visual since the companies announced a R500 million debt-and-equity funding deal in September 2017.

Visual, which is listed on the JSE's Alt-X, is worth less than R7.5 million at its Friday intraday price of 2 cents per share.

Visual's executives would not discuss the company, and it is not covered by analysts. But one penny-stock trader said it appeared that Milost was using Visual to establish a listed beachhead in the South African property sector, "which could be interesting".

The two companies are different to an extraordinary degree.

Visual has had little but trouble since its it listed in 2014, losing 97% of its value as it ran out of money, was suspended, and failed to acquire an affordable-housing developer with projects around the country.

Stellendale Village (Visual International)

Visual's last set of interim results showed a loss of nearly R4 million – on revenues of only R3 million.

Its single claim to fame is Stellendale Village, a property development in Kuils River, between Cape Town and Stellenbosch, where sold several hundred houses for around half a million rand each. In an innovative deal, the Western Cape government handed Visual a adjacent piece of state land in return for Visual incorporating 140 heavily subsidised units in the development, to make for an integrated housing scheme of sorts.

Milost describes itself as a "provider of alternative capital, mezzanine finance, and alternative lending" to industries that include cannabis, education, and real estate. It also considers itself a specialist in leveraged buy-outs and takeovers.

Its portfolio includes an investment in a bank in Mongolia and a planned hospital in Accra, Ghana, as well as shares in education company Stadio.

At the end of March Milost walked away from what had been billed as a $1 billion deal with Unity Bank in Nigeria after what it said were threats – and a false statement that it had entered a binding deal.

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