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Troubled racing tycoon Markus Jooste in agreement to avoid 'fire-sale' situation



Beleaguered business tycoon Markus Jooste, who has horses with Aidan O’Brien, has reached agreement with his bankers over the immediate future of his South African racing operation.

Last Friday Absa Bank, owed R226 million (£13.4m/€15.1m), went to the High Court in Cape Town to apply to put Jooste’s racing company, Mayfair Speculators, into liquidation and freeze the assets. The application was put on hold until January 29 to allow Jooste time to file his response.

However, his racing manager Derek Brugman revealed: “We've now made an agreement with the financiers that we can continue racing and continue selling the horses.

"We've also been given time by the financiers to sell them in a structured manner over a period of time. We're not in a fire-sale situation.”



Edict Of Nantes, picture Liesl King

Absa had been given shares in Steinhoff International as security for its loan but the value of the shares has collapsed from R46 to below R5 since Jooste resigned as chief executive this month and the subsequent allegations of financial irregularities.

In addition, Absa alleges that Jooste must have been aware of the irregularities, and that they would soon be discovered, when Mayfair Speculators declared a dividend of R1.5 billion (£89m/€100.2m) to its holding company in August.

Jooste has between 150 and 250 horses in training in South Africa – including some in partnerships – and has been the country’s leading owner for the past ten seasons. He also has horses in France and Germany as well as at Ballydoyle.

It is still not clear whether those in Europe will all be sold, but Absa said that Mayfair France was in the process of selling racehorses.

Those in South Africa already sold include dual Horse of the Year Legal Eagle for R3.2m (£190,000/€214,000) and Cape Derby winner Edict Of Nantes for a reported R9.9m (£588,000/€662,000). He goes to Hong Kong but Legal Eagle stays in South Africa.

Steinhoff International bought Poundland – the high street chain that sponsors the Hill at the Derby – in September last year. Epsom's owner Jockey Club Racecourses said only it was looking forward to continuing the association, and that it will be unaffected by Jooste's resignation.

A spokesperson for Epsom said: “The partnership with Poundland at Epsom concerns the Hill at the Derby festival and we work closely with them in that regard. Anything that sits outside this would be a matter to pick up with them directly.”


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