Alexander Forbes calls halt to R1bn deal

JOHANNESBURG – Alexander Forbes, the JSE-listed pension fund administrator, yesterday postponed the R1billion share buyback in Mercer Africa due to the market uncertainties caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19).

The group said that it agreed with Mercer Africa to consider a possible repurchase of the shares at a later date, as South Africa’s confirmed cases of coronavirus reached 402. There have been 12944 coronavirus-related deaths worldwide.

“As a result of the global economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a material change in market conditions and outlook and it is impossible to determine for how long this uncertainty will persist. Alexander Forbes and Mercer have consequently mutually agreed not to proceed with the Specific Repurchase at present,” said the company.

In January Alexander Forbes announced it would repurchase more than 200million shares in Mercer Africa for R1.034billion at R5.15 a share. Mercer Africa provides advice that helps customers build healthier futures. The group said the decision not to proceed with the repurchase would further strengthen its capital and liquidity position and ensure its robust sustainability through the difficult economic conditions expected over the forthcoming months.

The company also said that as a result of the pandemic and the restrictions placed on public gatherings, its annual general meeting scheduled for later this month would not only be accessed through the internet.