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Tunisia : Justice puts an end to the suspense of the Sotuver !

The suspense of what could be called «the Sotuver matter» will have lasted a little less than one year. On November 1st 2007, a court decision freezes all transactions on Sotuver titles. This freeze followed a disagreement between the Chahed heirs and the glass maker St Gobain which has been going on since a lawsuit with the heirs following an intention to sell which was not concluded. This disagreement was, afterwards followed by another intention to sell from the same heirs with a Moroccan glass maker, the Sevam. The Council of the Tunisian financial market makes a communication then that «following the decision of freezing the shares belonging to the heirs Khaled and Noureddine
Chahed, the planned transaction between the shareholders owning the majority of shares of the Sotuver and the Moroccan glass maker group Sevam (Glassware Exploitation Company in Morocco) in vertue of the agreements concluded, object of a press release of the company published on the official bulletin of the CMF dated September 28th 2007, cannot be achieved. Hence, the quotation in the stock market of the Sotuver Company shares will resume on November 05th 2007».

There could be life during the «crisis».

Since then, the matter experienced several impacts but the enterprises continued to operate normally. It has even improved its ratios and gave signs of a good financial recovery. According to the latest news provided by the company, the activity of Sotuver was characterised, at the end of the thirds quarter 2008, by n upward trend in the turnover which is continuing so that turnover the turnover to 30/09/2008, increased by 5,115 MDT compared to the same period in the previous year, that is (+39%) rising from 13,244 MDT to 18,359 MDT and outpassing the annual turnover of 2007 by 5.25%. The turnover to export also increased substantially (+95%) compared to the same period of the year, representing 1/3 of the global turnover of the period. Production in the period increased by 7,43% in tons and 13.11% in the number of necks, thanks to the development in the production of disposable beer bottles which represent (+35%) of the number of necks produced. The enterprise has also continued to pay its bank engagements. So the global debt of the company registered a decrease of 11.5% compared with the end of 2007, following the reimbursement of the loan.

The Bayahi are said to have bought the share for 21 DT.

The last event and which will be a milestone in the company stability, occurred on Tuesday, October 28th 2008 by the CMF which first suspended the quotation, before «informing the shareholders of the Tunisian Glassware Company (Sotuver) and the public that the heirs Khaled and Noureddine Chahed informed the Council of the Financial Market about the decision of the judge of the First Instance Court of Tunis which allowed them to sell all the shares they own to the benefit of the «Financial Investment Company ». The CFM has then again «ordered the suspension of the quotation of the Sotuver title from Tuesday October 28th 2008 to an unknown date ». This information, however, will put an end to the suffering of the Sotuver and its shareholders. It is, from now on, certain that this company belongs to the group Bayahi and that its first manager would be Yahia Bayahi. We also heard that the purchase of the 60 % of the Sotuver was made with the price of 21 DT the share.

A buyout and new prospects.

We don’t know whether the Bayahi have made this purchase by their own or with a partner and who is this partner. They will certainly be the leader of this operation which brings again Sotuver to its position as single bottle maker in Tunisia to Tunisian owners. We don’t also know, which could explain the  quotation suspension, what will decide or what will demand the CMF. Does it want an OPA on the rest of Sotuver shares ? Will it order to maintain the prices ? And whether the Bayahi would accept the OPA and to maintain the prices, will they buy all and will they outpass the 95 %, the ceiling allowing them to ask for an OPR and will they do it ?

In any case, this court decision puts an end to months of uncertainty about the future of Sotuver. It also puts an end to the disagreement which existed between the ex-candidate for purchase, the French St Gobain. Indeed, it is the justice that froze the first transaction and it is decision that liberated the sale, but by naming the buyer which is the investment company of the group Bayahi. There is only the lawsuit left, but this is between the heirs who have sold and St Gobain, but it is no longer the competence of Sotuver which will hence operate and even plan, maybe a future increase in capital, more calmly, with new investors who proved, through their purchasing the Magasin Général and through the progress of their second enterprise in the stock market, which is the TPR, in which they are the investors and the developers.

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