This year, Imperial Holdings concluded its extensive renewal, taking the final steps to separate its portfolio into two strong, independent businesses, Imperial Logistics and Motus Holdings; each a company of scale, each with a compelling value proposition and each with the opportunity to be a success story in its own right.

Founded in 1948 as a motor dealership in Johannesburg, and listed on the JSE in 1987, Imperial Holdings evolved into one of the country’s largest diversified multinational groups. Through seminal political, social and economic shifts, it grew into a globally significant importer, distributor and dealer of motor vehicles and associated products and services, while expanding into adjacent businesses associated with the transport of goods.

Imperial’s decentralised business model facilitated and encouraged the acquisition, development and growth of large and small businesses alike, balancing a strong entrepreneurial culture with disciplined financial control and sound governance.

Post 2008, a major portfolio restructuring was implemented with an emphasis on retaining and investing in businesses with the potential to generate higher yields on capital and defensive annuity income streams.

A landmark development in Imperial Holdings’ growth trajectory was the acquisition of CIC Holdings in 2010, a consumer packaged goods distribution business active in the SADC region, which initiated and accelerated Imperial’s expansion into the African Regions.

By 2014, as a multinational industrial services and retail group, Imperial Holdings employed more than 52 000 people and generated revenues in excess of R100 billion, across logistics, automotive and industrial, and financial services sectors. Late that year, to enhance strategic clarity, a fundamental transformation was initiated to unlock intrinsic value within the group. The substantial portfolio optimisation since 2014 saw as many as 55 businesses and 90 properties disposed of, and 17 strategically aligned high-quality assets acquired.

From 1 July 2016 and 1 January 2017, respectively, the group consolidated its logistics and automotive operating companies and assets within two large, multinational businesses, Imperial Logistics and Motus Holdings, each with its own board, chief executive officer and executive committee. Further entrenching their independence, the functions of the group head office were systematically devolved, and exemplary governance standards and structures replicated within each company. On 1 July 2017, the group’s executive committee was disbanded, and its authority transferred to the two divisional boards.

After considering if the long-term prospects of each business would be enhanced by being separately listed, the group board approved the unbundling and separate listing of Motus Holdings, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. The board established that this would enable both companies to operate in a more focused and efficient way, and to achieve their respective strategic ambitions, unlocking value for shareholders over the long term.

In the 70th year of the group’s existence, it is noteworthy that the culmination of the far-reaching changes to the portfolios, strategies, structures and management of each of its subsidiaries has been reached, and that Imperial Logistics and Motus Holdings compare in every way to the governance, executive, operating, control and reporting standards of major public companies.