One shareholder questions whether the R2 billion cannabis “immune-booster” orders the liquidated group claims to have had, were actually just a ploy to raise cash and that the investment community has been conned.
Angry Nutritional Holdings shareholders, who’ve seen the value of their investment in the JSE company evaporate, have accused the board of misleading them. Nutritional Holdings was put into final liquidation on 2 August 2022 and even though directors are trying to get the order reversed, it’s unlikely that the business will survive.
The company said in a SENS statement on 9 August 2022 that the liquidation papers had indeed been served on the company’s registered Durban head office – but it had been vacated and since burnt down! It also claims there were other technical issues which would render the judgement invalid.
However, even if the company sorts out the mess, it has no immediate prospect of revenue. Its subsidiary, Ukukusela, which claimed to have large orders to provide cannabis-related supplements to German and Japanese firms, has not yet been granted a SAHPRA license, and its dry-foods business, selling milk powders and porridge to prisons and school hostels, is unprofitable.
Ukukusela initially claimed to have a cultivation license in Lesotho, but the company said earlier this year that it was applying for a SAHPRA license with the assistance of Alvero. However, no detail has since emerged, Ukukusela is not operating and the company never gave details about where it sourced its cannabis, who its German and Japanese buyers might be, what the supplement was called and where it was produced.
Shareholders vented their frustration to Business Live on 11 August 2022. .
Retail investor Junior Smith told reporter Katharine Child that he had spent months last year trying to contact the CEO and former chair, and says the firm will not survive.
“We as shareholders of Nutritional Holdings are angry. We’ve been misled by each and every member of the board which has not done their job.
“I’ve tried to hold them accountable. I’ve spoken to the JSE numerous times and yet we’re in this position.”
Another retail investor said: “I feel really disappointed and deceived by the management of Nutritional Holdings. The news regarding the contracts worth R2bn with companies in Germany and Japan was the reason for acquiring shares in Nutritional Holdings as it seemed to have a lot of upside potential.
“This all seems to have been a lie to dupe potential investors into buying shares in the company.”
This disgruntled investor is still wondering whether the company ever had foreign buyers for its supplement.
Nutritional Holdings was suspended from the JSE in 2021 for failing to produce proper financial statements. At the time the stock’s market capitalization was R6,7 million, with the share price having plummeted 96% from its high of 25c. Shares were last trading at less than a cent.
The 1c stock’s last market cap stood at R6.7m before it was suspended from the JSE in 2021, having lost 96% of its value. That year the company faced multiple leadership changes, with the CEO, CFO and various directors quitting, and it went through three corporate sponsors.
While it was always a penny stock and speculative, there were many warning signs that should have scared shareholders: the revolving door of directors; an inability to raise money through bank financing; and unclear updates. These all gave no sense of the company’s businesses and how it was earning money.