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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  03 Apr 2011

VENTURES: SunAir's Dangerous Nosedives


Recent Western Cape Business News

MILNERTON-based airline – or should we say wannabe airline – SunAir has pulled off a disappearing act worthy of the Bermuda Triangle.

The last official word on SunAir – which initially planned flights between Cape Town and London before downscaling to regional air ambitions – was that the company had a rather nasty provisional liquidation application hanging over its head.

The application – brought by a former corporate lawyer owed over R600 000 – was not surprising since it was unlikely SunAir, which had missed several take-off schedules, was generating any meaningful revenue streams.

But SunAir apparently pulled out of this dangerous nosedive, and in December last year the company’s website proclaimed the provisional liquidation order had been lifted in September.

The gist of the website message was that – despite being grounded by liquidation proceedings for almost 12 months – it was only going to be a matter of time before “day-to-day business proceeds as normal”.

What’s more, the website claimed: “With the assistance of an investor in the company, the appointment of specialised board members and the injection of further capital in the company, our planning to list the company on a recognised stock exchange and get in the air remains a priority.”

SunAir has traditionally been vague on things – so it’s no real surprise that critical detail like the identity of the investor, the sum invested and the names of the specialised board members are not offered.

Previously SunAir has bandied about a R1.5 billion investment by an unnamed investor, and a listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

The notion of listing of SunAir has been around almost as long as the pie-in-the-sky idea that the company could actually get it together to fly a popular international route.

But still these enticing snippets could only have been cause for optimism for the hundreds of long suffering SunAir shareholders, who by now must be fretting that their capital has gone down the tubes.

What was encouraging in the September posting on the SunAir website, was that the company was hoping to come back to shareholders with timeframes and timelines within 60 days.

Unfortunately – as far as CBN can ascertain – no such timelines or timeframes were issued to shareholders.

The Sun Air site is now for all intents and purposes dead, and the only live thread links through to a website belonging to a former SunAir chief operating officer, Robert Williamson, who has some rather choice things to say about the airline.

Amongst Williamson’s contentions are that SunAir is no longer registered with the Registrar of Companies (and thus cannot raise new funds from investors) and that at the time of liquidation, the liquidator could find assets totalling a sparse R4 300 in the company.

Williamson, who clearly has an axe to grind with SunAir head honcho Andre Shaban, claims there were no audited reports for SunAir – which, remember is a public company, for the financial years 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Williamson alleges that the auditors were not prepared to sign off SunAir’s accounts due to irregularities during these reporting periods.

Williamson seems determined not to let the matter lie. He has urged all SunAir shareholders to join in a class action for the liquidation of the company.

While that seems a fruitless exercise having suggested the company only holds assets of some R4 300, Williamson argues that such action would allow a liquidator to proceed with a forensic audit.

CBN is intrigued by these developments. While it might be better to let this sleeping dog lie, there are probably more than a few SunAir shareholders keen to grasp exactly how and where their funds were mobilised over the last several years.


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