VENTURES: Supertow Finally Unhitched?
Recent Western Cape Business News
IT’s been six years since Cape Business News reported on Supertow International - one of Cape Town’s most infamous venture capital projects.
For readers that don’t remember that far back Supertow first emerged in the late nineties excitedly clutching a ‘anti-jack knife’ patent for manufacturing commercial and leisure trailers.
The ‘anti-jack knife’ patent meant that a trailer could be reversed without twisting, a huge convenience for motorists (as anyone who has tried to reverse with a trailer attached will attest).
Supertow, which went through various configurations, raised money from the public on at least two occasions – the first being in 2001 (when empowerment pioneer Peter Swartz and former JDH CEO Harry Minnie were briefly onboard) and again in 2005 (when current CEO Johann Fourie took the helm).
In essence Supertow International has been punting commercial production of their patented trailer for nigh on a decade. Tangible evidence of progress is not readily available with CBN unaware of audited financial statements for the company. The website is always under construction.
CBN always found it curious that the much vaunted Supertow trailer was not seen on our roads – even when the company was ensconced in Doug de Jager’s old Lenco premises in Epping.
Certainly the various prospectuses issued by the company in fund raising efforts spoke of sizeable production numbers and profits. And let’s not forget claims that numerous international enquiries had been evaluated. There were also negotiations with the National Taxi Alliance.
In a way then CBN was not surprised to hear that a former employee of Supertow, Eric Albers, initiated proceedings to liquidate Supertow.
As far as CBN can ascertain the matter went to court in late April, and a provisional liquidation order was granted.
It seems Albers – formerly the technical director at Supertow – vended a business, Precision Components Technology (PCT), into Supertow.
Eric Albers, alleging that a final payment due from Supertow had not been settled, went to court in an attempt to reclaim the PCT assets.
A provisional liquidation order suggests Supertow no longer has the means to settle the outstanding obligation to Albers, which is a pretty alarming turn of events for shareholders who have pumped millions of rands into the company.
Provisional liquidation documentation (which CBN will hopefully have for the next edition) will shed more light on exactly how shareholders’ capital was mobilised in this ‘go-nowhere’ venture.
JSE listed financial services company StratCorp, which holds a strategic stake in Supertow (and played a major role in securing funding), may also shed more light on developments when it reports its results later this month.
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