March 24, 2017 / 12:04 PM / 3 years ago

South Africa's Brait suspends LSE listing plan on Brexit uncertainty

A woman walks past the London Stock Exchange building in the City of London, Britain, January 16 , 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s Brait SE (BATJ.J)BATJ.LU has suspended plans to list on the London Stock Exchange, the investment firm said on Friday, citing uncertainty over Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Brait, which has majority stakes in clothing retailer New Look, grocer Iceland Foods and gym chain Virgin Active, said last year it intended seeking a premium listing in London to boost its profile and tap deeper pools of capital.

“We’re of the view that at this point in time, there’s just too much uncertainty as to exactly how Brexit is going to pan out,” Brait’s head of investor relations Mark Parsons said.

“But we are very much of the view that in the longer term, it would be beneficial for shareholders to be listed on the London Stock Exchange because our portfolio now comprises quite a few UK-based companies,” he added.

The potential impact on capital markets was also a factor the board considered when it decided not to proceed with the transfer and listing, Brait said in a statement.

The firm, incorporated in Malta, but managed from South Africa, has a primary listing in Luxembourg and a secondary listing in Johannesburg. It is controlled by retail tycoon Christo Wiese.

Brait’s net asset value declined 21 percent in the three months to end-December as the pound weakened against the rand and lacklustre sales in New Look weighed on results.

New Look’s like-for-like sales in Britain were down nearly 5 percent in the quarter to end-December as the apparel and footwear sectors continued to face a challenging, promotion-led market with reduced footfall, the firm said in February.

Wiese, who is also the largest shareholder in Steinhoff (SNHG.DE)(SNHJ.J), which last year bought British retailer Poundland, told Reuters last year he was looking to consolidate his business interests.

Reporting by TJ Strydom and Tiisetso Motsoeneng; editing by Susan Thomas

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