Tongaat Hulett’s chairperson steps down as its rights issue plan takes nose dive

SOUTH AFRICA – The Chaiperson and Non-Executive Director of the Tongaat Hulett board, Mr Louis von Zeuner, has regrettably informed the board that he will not be available for re-election as Chairman at this year’s AGM due to a change in his personal circumstances.

Mr von Zeuner has consequently resigned as Chairman, but will remain on the board to assist with a smooth transition and handover until 30 June 2022.

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He will also resign as an independent non-executive director of the Company effective 30 June 2022.

The Board has begun the process to identify a suitable replacement and shareholders will be advised as soon as an appointment has been made.

As a result of Tongaat’s succession planning processes, a seamless transition to Mr David Noko, who will assume the role of interim Chairperson, has already begun.

Mr Noko has served as lead Non-Executive Director on the Tongaat board since 1 July 2020 and is currently the Lead Independent Non-Executive Director.

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He has an HND in Mechanical Engineering, an MDP and an MBA, and is the lead advisor at his consultancy company, ESG Advisory Limited. He was Executive Vice President at AngloGold Ashanti and has served as CEO of Air Chefs and Managing Director and CEO of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited.

He served on the Boards of several prominent companies, is a Chartered Director, a member of the Institute of Directors and is Chairman of the Council of the University of the Free State.

Tongaat Hulett’s rights issue plan awry after TRP investigation findings

Meanwhile, the sugar processor’s plans for up to a R5 billion (US$325m) right issue that had included Mauritius-based Magister, which is owned by the controversial Rudland family, as a potential underwriter, has crashed following a Takeover Regulation Panel (TRP) probe.

According to reports by IOL, the Takeover Regulatory Panel has declared a “nullity” a key shareholder resolution paving the way for the rights issue.

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This had followed an investigation into suspicious share purchases by a business partner of Simon Rudland, who owns substantial tobacco interests in Zimbabwe, just prior to a shareholder vote.

The TRP investigation had set out to determine whether Ebrahim Adamjee and his family were “inter-related parties” with Magister, the Mauritius-based company making the bid for Tongaat.

The TRP investigation, which found that Adamjee was an inter-related party, was prompted by a complaint by the so-called “Artemis consortium” of minority shareholders.

THL has indicated it is “continuing to proactively engage with stakeholders” regarding a capital raise transaction and a sustainable solution for the THL group.

“There is a positive commitment from various stakeholders who recognise the critical social impact THL has in South Africa and across the SADC Region,” the group said.

Tongaat is Africa’s biggest sugar producer and one of the largest single employers in the southern Africa region.

THL said a capital raise was a better alternative to asset disposals, which were unlikely to realise full value for the assets.

“The TRP has concluded that the third parties and Magister are concert parties, and accordingly the shareholder waiver has been nullified as a consequence of the third-party share acquisitions.”

THL has further highlighted it is obtaining an exemption from an obligation on Magister to make a mandatory offer had been a condition precedent to the Magister transaction.

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