Patrice Motsepe, one of South Africa’s first black billionaires, has saved the Blue Bulls rugby team from a dire financial situation.
This was revealed by Alfons Meyer, chief executive of the Blue Bulls Company (BBC), after Motsepe’s private equity firm, African Rainbow Capital (ARC), signed an agreement with Johann Rupert’s investment holding company, Remgro.
In doing so, Motsepe has acquired a historic controlling share in the BBC.
The BBC was established in December 1997 to manage the Blue Bulls team professionally. However, for the past few years, the company has been battling to keep its head above water financially.
Before the Blue Bulls Rugby Union approved the new contract – in a meeting held at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on Thursday – the union and Remgro each owned a 50% stake in BBC.
ARC and Remgro now own a 37% share each, thereby jointly owning 74% of the BBC, while the Blue Bulls Rugby Union holds the remaining 26% share.
Meyer said Motsepe’s investment was a timely lifeline for the struggling company: “It was really important. It has been tough because rugby is no longer making money.”
It is understood that the investment will result in a R60 million financial injection for the company (in respect of the controlling share) and a further R5 million a year for amateur rugby.
Willem Strauss, president of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, said it was fortunate business heavyweights like Rupert and Motsepe came on board.
“We went to a lot of effort to ensure that the agreement became a reality, and we are proud to say that it was unanimously supported by union members.
“The agreement won’t just benefit professional rugby, but the advantages will also extend to the amateur level.”
Meyer also revealed that Loftus would need upgrading between next year and 2023. He said its steel structure “requires attention”.
“You can’t incur those kinds of expenses if you aren’t making money. The agreement could not have come at a better time,” he said, adding that the company would ensure that Loftus would rake in more income in future, in cooperation with its new partners.
“We look forward to the opportunities that the new partnership brings. Soccer supporters are increasingly leasing boxes at the stadium, and the agreement will help us expand our support base.
“It’s a wonderful agreement, not just for the company, but also for the sporting community and the industry in general.
“Motsepe also owns Tshwane-based Mamelodi Sundowns, a team that often play their home games at Loftus, and there is no doubt that he will assist us in our vision of making Tshwane the sporting capital of South Africa,” said Meyer.
The Blue Bulls Rugby Union’s representation and decision-making in the company’s board of directors will be proportionately adjusted.
Meyer said the union had four members on the board, but this would probably be reduced to two.
He said he expected more clarity regarding decision-making, given that there would no longer be a 50/50 split between the union and Remgro. – Netwerk24