Larry Claasen, Business Insider SA - 04 October 2022
Brimstone Investment Corporation's CEO Mustaq Brey. (Gallo Images/Financial Mail/Hetty Zantman)
Brimstone is looking for "lost" shareholders, to pay them R6.4 million in unclaimed dividends.
When it was listed in 1998, there was no requirement for companies to record the basic contact details of their shareholders.
There is no obligation for companies to track down these shareholders.
One lucky shareholder got a R500,000 dividend payment.
For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Brimstone, one of South Africa's oldest listed empowerment companies, is looking for "lost" shareholders – in order to pay them R6.4 million in unclaimed dividends.
The group says it is having trouble finding them because, when it was listed on the JSE in 1998 at R1.25 a share, there was no requirement for companies to record the basic contact details of their shareholders.
This means the only contact details Brimstone has to track down some shareholders are their names and their addresses. Back then, they were not obliged to provide an ID number or phone number.
The novel way Brimstone attracted investors has also made it difficult for it to track them down.
Where many other empowerment companies were taking out loans and using dividends to pay them off, Brimstone asked ordinary people if they wanted to invest.
This saw many people, who had never invested in a JSE company, buying Brimstone shares.
"People came with cash to our offices to buy shares," recalls Brimstone co-founder and CEO Mustaq Brey.
Boards must take a stand
The matter is made more difficult because some shares are in the name of trusts and close corporations, many of which have been deregistered.
Though the group always took the issue of unclaimed dividends seriously, Brey says finding these shareholders became a matter of urgency after the Covid-19 pandemic; hearing that some of Brimstone's longstanding shareholders had passed away because of Covid-19 spurred him to increase the group's efforts to track down "lost" shareholders.
"We firmly believe that it's our moral obligation to find these people."
Brey hopes that looking for Brimstone’s lost shareholders will inspire other com
panies to also increase their efforts to find theirs.
As things stand now, there is no obligation for companies to track down these shareholders.
Brey wants company boards to take the issue more seriously, by making it a key performance indicator.
One lucky shareholder
Though many of these shareholders only own a few shares, one lucky shareholder received a R500,000 dividend payment.
Brey says aside from the dividend payments, these shareholders will also get shares in Life Healthcare, which was partly owned by Brimstone and listed on the JSE in 2010.
‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’