The government and business tycoon Nicholas Van Hoogstraten on Thursday struck a behind-the-scenes deal resulting in the postponement of the much-awaited annual general meeting (AGM) where some board members were expected to get the boot.
The AGM, which was preceded by an extraordinary general meeting was delayed by more than an hour as the two largest shareholders in the Hwange Colliery Company (HCC) held meetings behind closed doors much to chagrin of smaller shareholders.
When the AGM eventually started it lasted barely five minutes after a motion was moved seeking shareholder approval to postpone the AGM to a later date.
Van Hoogstraten, with over 18% shareholding and a representative from the National Social Security Authority, were quick to second.
In his motion to postpone the AGM, Valentine Vera on behalf of the government, which holds 37,10% said:
“I propose that a motion that the AGM be moved to a later date because there are issues that have to be discussed that have to be dealt with, issues to do with restructuring of the company that are not on the agenda.”
Efforts by minority shareholders to get a comment on why the shareholders had continued to shuttle up and down and the sudden move for a motion to postpone the AGM, Van Hoogstraten said:
“We are not obliged to given reasons as we constitute the majority. What has happened is in the best interests of the company. You know I would not have agreed if it wasn’t.”
One of the contentious issues on the agenda of the AGM was to re-elect board members James Nqindi, Thabani Ndlovu and Rosemary Sibanda.
The other director exiting the board, Alpheus Ngapo, was not eligible for re-election.
Insiders close to the developments said the government had to strike a deal with other shareholders as there were indications board members due for re-election were not going to garner enough votes to be retained on the board.
“The whole issue borders around board representation. Van Hoogstraten is likely to have his proxies on the board at the next AGM,” sources said.
In the EGM shareholders blocked the motion to increase the ordinary shares from 186 million to 204 million.
They also blocked the placing of 18 million shares under directors, the revision of the employee share ownership scheme and the extension of the share option scheme by two years. Shareholders however approved the motion to buy back its shares.