1 June 2012

Namibia: Trustco Blasts Home Affairs

"IT shouldn't be called Home Affairs. It should be called Problem Affairs." Trustco Group Holdings managing director Quinton van Rooyen yesterday didn't mince his words when it came to the Ministry of Home Affairs' reluctance to issue work permits.

Van Rooyen threatened to move some of Trustco's core businesses to "other jurisdictions" if the company, which reported a five-year annual growth of 34 per cent ending 2012, is not allowed to import skills.

"We can't compete on a global level without skills," Van Rooyen said. Trustco wants to pursue business opportunities in African countries like Malawi, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria and has also set its sights on the Brics countries comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Speaking at the release of Trustco's 2012 financial results, Van Rooyen mentioned two run-ins the company has had with the Ministry.

An international banker who wanted to offer Trustco "100 million in foreign currency" was allegedly turned away by immigration at the airport because he said he wanted to do business with the company and didn't have the right papers. "He phoned me and said he was going back to Tanzania," Van Rooyen said. Trustco also brought in a senior information and technology manager from Cape Town on a work permit of two years. During this time he trained six Namibians, Van Rooyen said.

However, the manager was denied an extension of his work permit and had to return to South Africa. "Now he is training South Africans," Van Rooyen said.

"If forced to, Trustco will have to look after its shareholders and we'll move our core business out of Namibia," he said. For 2012, the group paid N$58,1 million in taxes, 70 per cent more with what it boosted state coffers in 2011. Van Rooyen said Trustco is a Namibian company, "but we want to play on the global stage". "We have already played on the Namibian stage."

He said as long as Trustco is a Namibian company, it's profits will end up in the pockets of shareholders. The group is listed on both the Namibian and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges.

Van Rooyen said the countries Trustco intends branching out to have "very much" the same needs as Namibia. As Namibia is small, business in these countries is simply a matter of "bigger numbers".

Trustco already has interests in South Africa. For the financial year ended March 31 2012, the revenues from its South African ventures increased by 18 per cent to nearly N$310 million.

Trustco earned N$309 million from its micro-insurance and technology solutions businesses in the country, while revenue from its property interests was N$425 000. The group's total revenue for 2012 stood at N$587 million.

Trustco also had interests in Zimbabwe. It ventured into business with Econet Wireless in 2010, but the deal has gone sour and the Econet contract expired in February.

The Trustco group made net profit of N$206,7 million in 2012, nine per cent more than it did last year.

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