The Vodacom Blue Bulls have celebrated 80 years of heritage throughout 2018 and Friday, 28 September will see the #BullsFamily look back fondly to a date that saw Northern Transvaal lift the Currie Cup for the first time at Loftus Versfeld.


The year was 1946 and the opponents none other than Western Province. In a time where points scoring was completely different than what we are used to now, Northern Transvaal beat their Cape rivals 11-9 after leading 4-3 at half time in what will be a memory that will be cherished forever by the #BullsFamily.


Northern Transvaal scorers – Try: Johnnie Strydom; Drop goals: Hansie Brewis (2).


Northern Transvaal: 15. George Symington, 14. Johnnie Lourens, 13. Hannes de Villiers, 12. Attie Botha, 11. Daan Retief, 10. Hansie Brewis, 9. Fonnie du Toit, 8. Floors Perry, 7. Fiks van der Merwe, 6. Louis Strydom, 5. Doerie van DeVenter, 4. Flip Geel (c), 3. PJ van Rensburg, 2. Jorrie Jordaan, 1. Jan Botha.

Replacements: 16. Morrie Pollard, 17. At Spengler, 18. Colin Mostert.

GroCapital Holdings Limited acquires Bank of Athens

PRETORIA, 18 September 2018 – GroCapital Holdings Limited (“GroCapital Holdings”) is pleased to announce that it has obtained all regulatory approvals for the acquisition of the South African Bank of Athens Limited (SABA). This follows an announcement made in March 2017 that GroCapital Holdings had acquired the National Bank of Greece Group’s stake in the South African Bank of Athens, corresponding to 99.81% of the issued share capital of the bank. The Minister of Finance and the Registrar of Banks have approved the acquisition and GroCapital Holdings as a bank controlling company. The Competition Tribunal has also approved the acquisition.

GroCapital Holdings shareholders will include AFGRI Group Holdings, Fairfax Africa Holdings Corporation (“Fairfax Africa”) and the Government Employee Pension Fund, represented by the Public Investment Corporation (“PIC”). In AGH, Fairfax Africa and the PIC, [SABA / the Bank] will benefit from a committed and stable shareholder base with proven track records in the financial sector.

“This marks a substantial milestone for the AFGRI Group, providing us the opportunity to expand our financial services product offering, including the acceptance of deposits and cross-border financial settlements and flows, while simultaneously gaining access to SABA’s expertise in alliance, business and international banking,” said Chris Venter, CEO of AGH. He added that the banking licence will deepen the Group’s reach in the financial services, agribusiness and foods sectors in South Africa. “Financial services are a key enabler for these sectors and will help businesses grow and so drive food security,” said Venter.

Venter went on to say that by leveraging services across the combined customer base of both entities, synergies could easily be extracted, and an entire banking bouquet would be on offer. SABA would benefit equally from opportunities to grow forex and commodity trade and finance activities in the agricultural sector.

“The Group brings decades of experience in agriculture and foods, coupled with a deep understanding of agricultural cycles. Our bad debts are negligible, and this is testament to our appreciation of these cycles,” he went on to add.

In Fairfax Africa and the PIC, SABA will benefit from a substantial and stable shareholder base with proven track records in the financial services sector. GroCapital Financial Services (“GroCapital”) focuses on corporates involved in agriculture and food production, offering debt origination, forex and commodity trading, specialised finance and broking services, while UNIGRO focuses an array of financial and insurance products and services to the farmer.

“The PIC is pleased with this transaction. It is a transaction that is in line with our investment mandate given by our client, the GEPF. This transaction fits well with our financial services strategy, which seeks to drive transformation in the agricultural finance sector. SABA’s extensive experience in the financial sector is a perfect vehicle to assist us in realising this strategy. We believe that provision of funding in the agricultural sector is an important component in the agriculture value chain and can greatly contribute to food security,” said Dr Daniel Matjila, CEO of PIC.

GroCapital and UNIGRO will benefit from an expanded product suite including savings, transaction and electronic banking and commercial loans. UNIGRO will be able to assess the feasibility of innovative offerings to service underbanked rural farmers, as an example. This is in addition to including deposits and debit and credit cards. Experience and existing customer relationships will be leveraged to the advantage of growth in SABA’s balance sheet and contribute to profitability by leveraging GroCapital’s experience in commodity, stock and debtor finance, bridging facilities, invoice discounting, trade finance and broking.

SABA was established and has been operational in South Africa since 1947. The bank offers comprehensive traditional business banking such as lending, transactional banking and treasury functions, as well as alliance, business and international banking. It is known for its focus on the development of market-leading, niche alliance transactional banking offerings in partnership with businesses.

“The alliance banking offering is extremely attractive and will benefit our customers in the longer term,” said Venter, going on to elaborate that the alliance banking capabilities provide an extended platform for financial services innovation and partnerships.

“Key for SABA are the growth opportunities that are presented by the transaction, as well as the ability to broaden our offering to our current loyal customers. Furthermore, the transaction contributes towards stabilisation of the banking sector in South Africa and the shareholding is being acquired by investors that support South Africa as an investment destination,” said Spiro Georgopoulos, CEO of SABA.

“We aim to assist in growing the current SABA business. Between the two entities there are sufficient skills, like-mindedness and financial services offerings to achieve this,” added Venter. He went on to say that current SABA customers can be assured that the current high levels of service and products offered by SABA will continue. AGH has given assurances to protect existing depositors and borrowers of SABA.

As lead-arranger of this transaction, AGH will assume operational oversight over the bank with the appointment and secondment of an Integration Officer responsible for the successful implementation of the acquisition.

“The award of the licence highlights the growth potential of the banking sector and offers employment opportunities,” Venter said. “It also presents possible investment opportunities and the potential for future fundraising.”


The Vodacom Blue Bulls outscored the iCollege Pumas six tries to four as they registered a crucial 39-29 win over their Nelspruit opponents in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.

The visitors made their presence known early on as former FNB Maties flyhalf Chris Smith slotted a penalty goal in the 7th minute but it was the men in light blue who were galvanized into action as they responded with two tries in the 9th and 12th minute respectively.

Captain and no.8 Hanro Liebenberg showed great strength to power through the attention of the Pumas’ defence as he stretched out to score the opening try with wing Jade Stiglingh receiving the final pass after several phases to cross the whitewash three minutes later.
The home team had to pull in their defensive efforts moments later as outside centre Johnny Kotze was yellow carded and the team’s commitment needs to be commended as they only leaked their first try as Kotze was preparing to return to the field with flank Marnus Schoeman scoring a converted try in the 26th minute after prop Dayan van der Westhuizen crossed the chalk moments earlier for the Blue Bulls.
The men from Nelspruit used their dominant lineout drive once more as hooker Marko Janse van Rensburg scored a converted try but his efforts were undone by Stiglingh who collected a floating pass to score and wrapped up the bonus point with five minutes left of the first half.
The Blue Bulls consolidated their lead in the dying minutes of the opening half as Libbok brought the curtain down with a penalty goal to hand his charges a 27-17 lead at the break.
The first ten minutes after the match resumed proved to be a dull affair as neither team could break the deadlock before Springbok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl ensured his team were on the front foot as he collected a pass from hooker Jaco Visagie as the Blue Bulls found themselves in space courtesy of a creative lineout move.
The Pumas may have been down but they certainly were not out as they continued to attack from all areas of the field and their intent paid dividends as outside centre Neil Maritz exploited the overlap to score a converted try.
The final minutes of the match was a points scoring frenzy with both teams scoring unconverted tries. Replacement flank Jano Venter did what he does best as his burst through an attempted tackle to score the Blue Bulls’ sixth try while it was the Pumas’ turn to have the final say as wing Morné Joubert raced down the right hand touch line to score near the posts.
Smith’s missed conversion on the stroke of full-time proved to be the final moment of the match as the Blue Bulls walked away with a 39-29 win and five log points in what was their penultimate Currie Cup match of the season.


Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Hanro Liebenberg, Jade Stiglingh (2), Dayan van der Westhuizen, Ivan van Zyl, Jano Venter; Conversions: Manie Libbok (3); Penalty: Libbok.
iCollege Pumas – Tries: Marnus Schoeman, Marko Janse van Rensburg, Neil Maritz, Morné Joubert; Conversions: Chris Smith (3); Penalty: Smith.


The Vodacom Blue Bulls scored seven tries while enduring two yellow cards on their way to a bonus-point 45-40 (halftime 28-21) Currie Cup victory over the Tafel Lager Griquas at Tafel Lager Park in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.

It was a game of many tales with the home side looking for their first Currie Cup victory of 2018 and it was looking as if the men from Kimberley would be staring down the big barrel as the Blue Bulls raced into a 28-7 lead after just 27 minutes but indiscipline allowed the home side to come back to only trail by seven at the break.

The Blue Bulls snatched their bonus-point early in the first half with a brace of tries from centre Franco Naude as well as scrumhalf Andre Warner and hooker Jaco Visagie with flyhalf Manie Libbok converting all four efforts. Warner opened the scoring after a good build up from the visitors, picking up from the base of a ruck to sneak over after just six minutes.

Griquas hit back 10 minutes later after an excellent break from inside their own 22m area with the potential try snuffed out in the corner with some excellent cover-defence but the home side stole the resulting lineout and worked the ball to the line with prop Nicolaas Oosthuizen picking up and driving over to level matters.

But three tries in seven minutes meant the Blue Bulls secured their bonus-point with 27 minutes gone on the stadium clock. However, the visitors started conceding penalties aplenty which allowed the hosts to come back into the game. Andre Swarts scored the first of his two tries by forcing his way over the whitewash after some good pressure from the Griquas with just four minutes to go until halftime.

Worse was to follow for the men from Pretoria as Griquas piled on more pressure close to their tryline with the hooter having already sounded in the stadium. The home side mauled from a lineout but the Blue Bulls infringed, bringing the maul down on the tryline and referee Egon Seconds had no hesitation in awarding the home team a penalty try and then produced a yellow card to the Blue Bulls’ right wing, Duncan Matthews.

The second stanza started as the first had ended with Griquas besieging the visiting tryline. The hosts needed just six minutes to level the match up as flank Eital Bredenkamp picked up a loose ball and burst through some space to score the fourth Griquas try and secure a bonus-point for the home team.

The Blue Bulls were in disarray as Visagie was shown a yellow card by Seconds for an early tackle as Griquas were marching towards the Blue Bulls line again. With the visitors down to 13 men, Griquas claimed the lead with their fifth try, as Swarts scored in the corner thanks to scrumhalf Christiaan Meyer changing direction from a ruck to confuse the Blue Bulls defence.

However, the home side suffered a yellow card of their own when lock Pieter Jansen van Vuren was sin-binned for cynical play with the Blue Bulls on the attack. The visitors found their groove again and scored through replacement hooker, Edgar Marutlulle after a strong maul.

The Blue Bulls scored another two tries in as many minutes with man of the match Jano Venter running a good line to score next to the posts and the straight from the kick-off, the Blue Bulls burst through the middle of the park with replacement scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl diving over to give the men from the nation’s capital a vital 10-point advantage going into the final 10 minutes of the game.

The home side fought back though, scoring a try through fullback AJ Coertzen but Swarts missed the conversion leaving the hosts needing to score a converted try to win but in the end, the Blue Bulls held out for their second win of a shortened season, ending a two-game losing streak.


Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Andre Swarts (2), Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Eital Bredenkamp, AJ Coertzen, Penalty Try; Conversions: George Whitehead (4).

Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Franco Naude, JT Jackson, Andre Warner, Jaco Visagie, Edgar Marutlulle, Jano Venter, Ivan van Zyl; Conversions: Manie Libbok (5).