BOARD­ROOM BUST-UPS

GOLD­ING VS COPELYN

CityPress - - Front Page - MAMELLO MA­SOTE and MOY­AGABO MAAKE mamello.ma­sote@city­press.co.za

The gloves are com­ing off as direc­tors of Hosken Con­sol­i­dated In­vest­ments (HCI) smear each other after the sus­pen­sion of ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Mar­cel Gold­ing.

Court pa­pers show an in­creas­ingly strained re­la­tion­ship be­tween Gold­ing, his long-term business part­ner Johnny Copelyn and other mem­bers of the HCI board. Gold­ing has launched a labour court chal­lenge against his sus­pen­sion, the re­sult of which will be known to­mor­row.

HCI has con­trol­ling stakes in me­dia com­pa­nies Sabido In­vest­ments and e.tv, as well as in ho­tel and gaming group Tsogo Sun. The SA Cloth­ing and Tex­tile Work­ers’ Union (Sactwu) is HCI’s big­gest share­holder.

The ba­sis of Gold­ing’s le­gal chal­lenge is that hold­ing company HCI can­not sus­pend him in his ca­pac­ity as CEO of Sabido and e.tv be­cause he works for them and not HCI. The judge said he would make a rul­ing to­mor­row.

A board mem­ber who re­quested anonymity said the labour court chal­lenge by Gold­ing was a smoke screen and an elab­o­rate con­spir­acy not to ac­count for his ac­tions.

The board mem­ber said HCI paid Gold­ing so he is an em­ployee. The os­ten­si­ble but con­tested rea­son Gold­ing was sus­pended was be­cause he con­cealed the pur­chase 6 mil­lion of shares in elec­tron­ics company, El­lies, worth R24 mil­lion, from the board.

Gold­ing, how­ever, said he was kicked out be­cause he had been fight­ing for ed­i­to­rial in­de­pen­dence at e.tv against po­lit­i­cal pres­sure to high­light Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s good sto­ries in news items.

The board mem­ber said this was not true – Gold­ing had met Cab­i­net min­is­ters and had pledged to give more promi­nence to in­fra­struc­ture.

Another board mem­ber, who also re­quested anonymity, said the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Copelyn and Gold­ing was sev­ered.

“It is a great pity be­cause the two men have built up one of the best union-owned and broad-based BEE com­pa­nies in the coun­try. It is for­mi­da­ble.”

Gold­ing said he had the dis­cre­tion to make in­vest­ment de­ci­sions on be­half of the company with the ex­pec­ta­tion that they would be rat­i­fied. But Yu­nis Shaik, a di­rec­tor of the HCI board, said for Gold­ing to be­lieve this con­duct was ac­cept­able was mis­lead­ing. In his re­ply­ing af­fi­davit, Gold­ing at­tacked Shaik’s cred­i­bil­ity and in­cluded SMSes he had sent to him as back-up as the ex­ec­u­tives con­tin­ued air­ing each other’s dirty laun­dry. Gold­ing said Shaik wanted what he had so he no longer had to live a life of dif­fi­culty.

“As he put in his SMS to me when e.tv listed: ‘Think of this say like this: at the time of the e.tv li­cence be­ing granted I was with Sch­abir at Nkobi try­ing to build our company. To­day you listed e.tv and raised R640m. To­day Sch­abir [Sch­abir Shaik, his brother] is con­victed. To­day I signed bond for R3.5m to buy a house. When you see life through my eyes, you will un­der­stand why I cel­e­brate your suc­cess. I work for a liv­ing suck­ing d***[word deleted]. I go to bor­row from a bank R3.5m you went to the mar­ket and raised R640m. You get it? You liv­ing the dream. Me and the rest of us live the hell we call life. Cel­e­brate this mo­ment cel­e­brate your life. You did, the rest of us failed,’” Gold­ing quoted Shaik in his af­fi­davit. Gold­ing also re­vealed an in­stance in which he said Shaik was not above the use of un­ortho­dox meth­ods to achieve his goals, say­ing this had led to con­flict.

“In a text mes­sage at 12.12h on 18 May 2014, for ex­am­ple, Shaik wrote to me: ‘There is a guy in dbn is the provin­cial equiv­a­lent of a DG of a Dept: Eco­nomic Plan­ning. I need this guy to help with li­cence for Niveus in kzn. Can we in­vite him to the World Cup.’

“Niveus is a company within the HCI hold­ing group. I felt it most in­ap­pro­pri­ate to of­fer such in­cen­tives to gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, no mat­ter in what ca­pac­ity, and con­veyed this to Shaik.”

Gold­ing also called for Shaik to re­veal to the court a let­ter re­ceived by HCI from share­holder Remgro set­ting out its view on the mat­ter and threat­en­ing pos­si­ble le­gal ac­tion against HCI.

Mar­cel Gold­ing

John Copelyn

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