Distell’s black economic empowerment (BEE) deal - signed in 2005 - has paid out in excess of R600m after tax to about 4,000 employees as part of the company’s employee share ownership plan (ESOP,) culminating in an important milestone on the JSE-listed wine and spirits producers’ transformation journey.
The share value windfall was included in the employees’ February remuneration.
“This is a proud moment for all of us at Distell. The continuing success of Distell is down to the loyalty, commitment and sheer hard work of our employees and it is pleasing that such a broad group of employees have benefitted directly from the value that has been created since the signing of the BEE transaction,” said Distell Managing Director, Richard Rushton.
Rushton said such broad-based wealth creation embodied Distell’s on-going efforts to deliver meaningful impact to both employees and the communities in which the company operates.
“Our BEE approach goes beyond just empowering a handful of people.”
In 2005, Distell sold a 15% stake in its 100%-owned sole operating subsidiary, South African Distilleries and Wines, to Wiphold Beverages. Shares in WIP Beverages were held by a BEE consortium consisting of all qualifying Distell employees (45%), Wiphold Distilleries (40%), and a Corporate Social Investment (CSI) trust (15%) - which would focus on benefiting disadvantaged communities in areas where Distell has operations.
At the time, it was agreed that the units would be held by the ESOP Trust for a “lock-in” period of at least eight years.
At the time of its inception, Distell’s BEE deal was hailed by the Department of Trade and Industry as a fine example of how economic empowerment and redistribution of wealth can take place sustainably.
As a result of the restructuring of the BEE deal, the CSI Trust deed has been amended to ensure that the company complies with the requirements of a broad-based ownership scheme in terms of the BEE Codes. The CSI Trust has now been renamed the Distell Development Trust and its mandate will now be widened to incorporate more social development initiatives that will uplift the lives of more South Africans.
Through the CSI Trust, Distell will still be able to retain a satisfactory ownership rating. Distell, through a financial institution, has provided extensive financial training to assist all staff with managing their payouts.