Mireille Levenstein bids farewell to Long4Life

The holding company has been acquired by Old Mutual Private Equity and will be delisting from the JSE.

At the end of 2021, Long4Life announced that it had received an offer from Old Mutual Private Equity to acquire the entire group. The transaction will see the holding company delist from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) at the end of May and will result in the separation of its sports and recreation, beverage and personal care assets under the Old Mutual Private Equity stable.

“Our share price had been a little bit depressed and Old Mutual Private Equity made an offer that shareholders accepted,” explains Long4Life CFO Mireille Levenstein. “It’s a fair outcome for all parties given the circumstances.”

On the back of a successful Visionary CFO Series in 2021, A2X has once again partnered with CFO South Africa to bring you a series of interviews highlighting South Africa’s best and brightest CFOs, their insights and challenges. Find out how they help lead some of South Africa’s most successful companies in this bi-weekly interview series.

Read all about the 2021 Visionary CFOs here.

 

Mireille explained that, while Long4Life had a sizable portfolio of attractive assets, it made no sense to use its equity to raise capital and grow with a suppressed share price. “Old Mutual offered an opportunity for shareholders to realise value with a clean cash exit.”

Mireille, who joined the company not long after its inception less than five years ago, has been steering the consolidation of the group’s assets into Old Mutual. “It’s been quite a journey from where we started. Over the last four years we have built the company from scratch, putting in all the infrastructure, committees, paperwork, policies and more. Now it’s come full circle to delisting and closing down the head office,” she says.

On their growth journey, Long4Life made numerous investments, particularly in the sports and recreation, beverages, personal care and wellness industries. “We had to bed those acquisitions down and bring our culture and way of thinking into every one of them. This doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not a simple process. Besides the sport and recreation team, the businesses weren’t used to the listed environment and the various reporting and governance structures required.”

This is, however, not the first time Mireille has had to delist and say goodbye to a company. After working at Paracon as their CFO for 16 years, when the company was bought out by Adcorp in 2015, Mireille went through a similar scenario.

The Old Mutual acquisition will see Mireille and the rest of the head office executive team exit the company. Now, the question on Mireille’s mind is “what next?”.

“After the acquisition of Paracon by Adcorp, I thought I should slow down a little. I consulted for a short while but soon realised that I truly love working under pressure – it’s in my DNA. I know that seems crazy, but I love the challenge,” she says.

Now, Mireille is ready to take on the next challenge. Whether that will be in the listed or private space is yet to be determined. “I know the listed space very well, I understand all the reporting requirements, as well as the financial metrics and investor relations that go with it. But I’m pretty open to working in the private sector as well.”

When she isn’t chasing a challenge in her career, Mireille is chasing the thrill of skiing on the slopes of Europe. Although she hasn’t been able to for the last four years due to a bad knee injury, she is looking forward to getting back out there – with a knee brace and a lot more caution.

Mireille’s motto is to work hard and play hard – she is married to an attorney and they both love to travel, both abroad and within the borders of South Africa.

Her two sons, Michael and Daniel, are both qualified chartered accountants like their mother. The eldest is 27 years old and completed his articles with Investec and now works for the company in London. The youngest is 24 years old and is still busy doing his articles, also with Investec. He is completing his CFA too.

Family is very important to Mireille, and she loves to take them along with her while travelling both abroad and within the borders of South Africa.