Business tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten’s efforts to have proxies on the Rainbow Tourism Group board hit a brick wall on Wednesday after shareholders swung the vote in favour of Econet and National Social Security Authority (NSSA) appointees at a tense annual general meeting (AGM) in Harare on Wednesday.
Van Hoogstraten, the single largest individual shareholder with 36%, had prior to the AGM threatened to expose leading telecommunications company Econet Wireless, a fellow shareholder in the company, if his board appointees were not approved.
According to the results published at the end of the AGM, all appointees by Van Hoogstraten garnered 42,8% of the vote which were not sufficient to carry them onto the board.
The business tycoon had proposed Shingirai Chibanguza, Alexander Hamilton, Maximilian Hamilton and Ian Haruperi to sit on the board.
Poll results suggest that Econet Wireless with 22,91%, Afre Group 13,27% and NSSA 12,64% formed an alliance to block Van Hoostraten’s appointments.
Tracy Mpofu, Krison Chirairo, John Gould and Shadreck Vera, appointed by Econet Wireless, garnered 61% of the votes thereby wrestling control of RTG.
Speaking after the AGM van Hoogstraten said he would call for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) through a circular in which he said:
“I will expose the fraudulent dealings of Econet, Nssa and ReNaissance dating back to 2004 through the circular we will issue.”
He also queried why RTG had been dealing with ReNaissance Merchant Bank which he went to describe as “micky mouse”.
A notice to shareholders of RTG before Wednesday’ AGM said: “If my appointed directors are defrauded again of their rightful positions we will call an EGM and expose their self-serving and dishonest history back to the 2005 fraud.
“We will see what happens this time around but one does not need to have the intelligence of Albert Einstein to work out that the last thing the present board would wish (bearing in mind past history since we were defrauded by them of a 19% shareholding in 2005) is to have competent, honest and non-aligned outside directors.”
In a trading update to shareholders, RTG chief executive officer Chipo Mutasa said the company had a $10 million long-term and additional $9 million short-term debt.
She said the group was in the process of trying to recover $5,1 million held by troubled ReNaissance Merchnat Bank which the company had received from the Afreximbank.
Mutasa called on shareholders to close ranks for the benefit of the company.
“The shareholder engagement that has started is encouraging. Progress in achieving cordial relations will put to rest acrimonius annual general meetings like this one and will ensure that management focuses on growth in value in the company for the benefit of all stakeholders,” said Mutasa.
Hotel occupancy for the group in the first five months of the year at 41% were ahead of the prior year.
“The balance sheet continues to be burdened by high gearing at 54% and high interest charges to date amount to $804 276. It is the board’s strategy to reduce short-term debt through recapitalisation to be proposed to the shareholders during the course of the year,” she said.