Xerox Selling South Africa Holdings
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) _ After months of agonizing, Xerox Corp. is joining dozens of other American companies by selling its South African holdings and leaving the white-minority ruled country.
Xerox Corp.’s London affiliate, Rank Xerox Ltd., said Thursday it will sell its South African subsidiary to a South African electrical and electronics company for an undisclosed sum.
Rank Xerox South Africa Ltd. will be sold to Fintech, a member of the Altron Group, a major electronics company, the company said.
Terms weren’t disclosed for the sale, which is to be completed by May 1, said Xerox, which is based in Stamford.
Xerox had been holding out against joining the tide of U.S. corporate departures from South Africa for months. Last December, it announced it was postponing a decision on whether to pull out of the white-minority ruled country.
Even so, Xerox’s decision to leave did not surprise industry watchers.
″The overall impact on the company (of the sale) will be virtually nil,″ said Peter Enderlin, managing director at Smith Barney. ″Just about every multi-national corporation says that South Africa is less than one percent of its sales and earnings.″
Xerox has said that its South African unit provided less than one percent of its nearly $9 billion of annual sales.
In 1984, seven U.S. companies pulled out of South Africa, and in 1985, that figure jumped to 40. Last year, 49 U.S. companies left South Africa and so far this year, nine have left and another 15 have announced they are leaving, according to Alison Cooper, a research analyst at the Investor Responsibility Research Center.
The Washington, D.C-based center is a non-profit firm which researches issues concerning institutional investors.
Cooper said in a telephone interview on Friday that there are still 207 U.S. companies in South Africa. That figure includes the 15 who have announced they plan to leave.
Cooper said Xerox has been the 14th largest U.S. employer in South Africa.
Rank Xerox South Africa Ltd. was founded in 1964 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rank Xerox. It markets a line of copiers and duplicators throughout South Africa and in Namibia, or South West Africa.
Xerox, like many companies, said it will retain distribution agreements. Cooper said that Eastman Kodak Co. was one of the few that left and ended all product sales in South Africa.
Rank Xerox employs about 800 people. The company has said it negotiated a promise from the buyer that the subisidary’s employees will not lose their jobs. The company also said it will create a foundation run by black leaders that will spend $500,000 a year on social programs after Xerox leaves.
Cooper said that other companies have made similar efforts in South Africa when they have announced they were leaving.