Business Maverick

MOTOR TRADE

WeBuyCars gets off to a strong start on the JSE

WeBuyCars gets off to a strong start on the JSE
(Photo by Gallo Images / Misha Jordaan)

The pre-owned-car group, established in 2001 and recently unbundled from Transaction Capital, has listed on the main board of the JSE under the ‘WBC’ share code. It is one of 10 expected listings on the stock exchange this year.

The second company to list this year on the JSE, WeBuyCars, got off to a strong debut on the bourse, rising 2.5% in midday trade after listing for R20.50. 

The second-hand car group, established in 2001, has listed on the main board of the JSE under the “WBC” share code. 

It is one of 10 expected listings on the JSE this year, including medical cannabis holding company Cilo Cybin, discount supermarket chain Boxer, RCL Foods’ Rainbow Chicken and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa

On 14 February, WeBuyCars holding company Transaction Capital – which has suffered major losses in recent years owing to the declining fortunes of SA Taxi and the subsequent departure of its CEO David Hurwitz in December – announced its intention to list the pre-owned car group to “unlock” value for shareholders.

It hoped to raise up to R1.25-billion in the sale through the private placement of WBC shares of R500-million and a proposed pre-listing capital raise of up to R750-million.

WBC has 2,800 employees across the country. It buys and sells vehicles from 15 “supermarkets” and 74 buying pods.

Company’s CEO Faan van der Walt said listing on the JSE had been an “amazing journey”. 

“We are excited about the road ahead as the listing opens up many opportunities such as enhancing our brand, creating liquidity for shareholders and attracting staff.” 

The JSE said the unbundling of WeBuyCars from its holding company echoed a growing trend on the equity capital markets, an indication of the effectiveness of unbundling in “enhancing growth opportunities, valuation realisation, and capital allocation optimisation”.

Valdene Reddy, the JSE’s director of capital markets, welcomed the listing, saying: “The company’s decision to unbundle and list on our exchange demonstrates the strength of the SA capital markets and the JSE’s role in enabling firms to progress their expansion pursuits, facilitating direct access to a well-established equity market.”

Second listing this year

WeBuyCars is the second listing on the JSE this year, and brings the total of listed companies to 283, with a market cap of R18.4-trillion.

The JSE has seen a sharp decline in listings over the past three decades: in 1990, the then Johannesburg Stock Exchange boasted 776 companies, but it has lost on average 14 companies every year.

News24 reported that the JSE lost 22 listings in 2023 and 25 in 2022, which Jarrett Geldenhuys, head of equity capital markets at Investec, attributes to South Africa’s weak economy and policy uncertainty, which in turn made it difficult for smaller companies to generate the consistent returns required for a listing to make sense.

Allan Gray’s Nadia van der Merwe and Stephan Bernard wrote in 2021 that “the nature of markets is to reward success and eliminate what is not sustainable”.

“As such, companies list and delist from exchanges as the business life cycle plays out.

“There is cause for concern when a net delistings trend emerges over time. This could be symptomatic of a faltering economy and persistent negative business sentiment, but there are a number of other factors to consider” – such as structural and cyclical issues, consolidation of companies within larger corporations, smaller companies delisting, and companies staying private for longer,” they wrote. DM

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