Creditors of distressed sugar producer Tongaat Hulett overwhelmingly approved a business rescue plan on Thursday that will see it acquired by a consortium of companies, including one founded by IT mogul Robert Gumede.
They faced little choice, however, as a rejection would have most likely resulted in the liquidation of the more than 130-year-old company. This would have put tens of thousands of jobs at risk and offered the prospect of severe damage to the economy of KwaZulu-Natal.
Tongaat, which produces about half of SA’s refined sugar, directly employs over 2 500 people, and more than 23 000 indirectly. It contributed about R11 billion to SA’s GDP in 2021 but entered business rescue in October 2022 after battling with a litany of blows, including SA’s second-biggest accounting scandal after Steinhoff.
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