Who’s Rex’s real mas­ter?

Finweek English Edition - - COMPANIES&MARKETS -

SURELY SOME­THING has to give at fash­ion re­tailer

REX TRUE­FORM ? Last week saw an­other re-jig­ging of the board, with Mur­ray & Roberts fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor Roger Rees ap­pointed as an in­de­pen­dent nonex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor to Rex­tru, as well as the pyra­mid hold­ing com­pany African & Over­seas En­ter­prises.

It’s all well and good to ap­point in­de­pen­dent non-ex­ec­u­tive direc­tors at this fam­ily-con­trolled busi­ness, but Rex­tru (and Af&Over) surely are over­due in align­ing its board to re­flect the eco­nomic in­ter­ests in the com­pa­nies.

Em­pow­er­ment group Brim­stone and pri­vate in­vestor Hugh Roberts hold an eco­nomic in­ter­est of close to 70% in Rex­tru but nei­ther party has board rep­re­sen­ta­tion, with its N-share struc­ture en­sur­ing con­trol stays with the Shub fam­ily.

It’s ar­chaic, it’s un­fair and it’s un­ten­able. Brim­stone, which has a track record of adding value to its in­vest­ments, has po­litely bided its time at Rex­tru since buy­ing out Old Mu­tual’s stake a few years ago. But per­haps it’s time Brim­stone – hope­fully joined by the enig­matic Mr Roberts – takes a tact­ful tilt at this ar­ti­fi­cial ed­i­fice.

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