It's Game of Thrones at CFI

HARARE - The battle for the throne at CFI Holdings (CFI) has escalated with market regulator — the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) — claiming it was unaware that British tycoon, Nicholas Van Hoogstraten’s Messina Investments qualified to make a mandatory offer to the company’s minorities.

The bourse’s acting chief executive Martin Matanda last week said despite an on-going battle to secure controlling stake in the company between Messina Investments and Stalap Investments (Private) Limited (Stalap) — an investment vehicle owned by Zimre Holdings (Zimre) where the Rudland brothers, Hamish and Simon, are major shareholders — the bourse was unaware that Van Hoogstraten’s family trust had breached 35 percent shareholding in CFI.

“The investing public is advised that Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has not been formally advised that Messina, and any other parties it is acting in concert with, has passed the 35 percent threshold which compels them to make an offer to the minorities in terms of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Listing Requirements,” Matanda said.

Earlier last week, Messina Investments dangled a 46 cents per share offer to CFI’s minorities to counter Stalap’s initial 22 cents per share offer, in a move that was aimed at luring shareholders to surrender their shares to the businessman’s investment vehicle.

At the moment Van Hoogstraten’s investment vehicle holds a 42 percent stake in CFI, making it the largest shareholder while Stalap holds a 41 percent stake in the agro-industrial concern.

The acting ZSE boss said Van Hoogstraten’s offer to minorities was unsanctioned.

“The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange views the notice by Messina as an unsanctioned informal offer to minorities and therefore non-compliant with the ZSE’s Listing Requirements,” he said.

The counter, whose share price has been rebounding in the bidding war, gained 19,97 percent to close last week at 37,25 cents.

This comes as,Messina company director Maximilian Hamilton last week Thursday urged shareholders to take up the Messina Investments’ offer.

“We urge all the minority shareholders not to sell their shares but to support us…

“We will pay 46 cents per share net of dealing costs…

“In any event, the current ZSE market price is considerably higher than the offer price of 22 cents from Stalap…

“Shareholders resident outside of Zimbabwe may contact us direct or by email…. as we are able to pay the 46 cents per share net into a bank account of their choice in US$, Sterling, SA rand or Australian $...,” said Hamilton.

In the mudsling, Hamilton also accused Stalap of mismanagement at CFI, questioning a land deal that was conducted between Zimre and the National Social Security Authority (Nssa).

“Stalap is a consortium between Zimre and the Nssa whose purpose is to regain control of CFI so that the former plunder, mismanagement and corruption that was endemic at CFI in the years prior to 2016 can be abated.

“The fraudulent sale of the Langford Estates land is one example,” he said, adding that Langford Estate was undervalued at $2,20 per square metre when the true value was around $6 per square metre.

CFI sold the 834 hectares Langford Estate in 2015 to Fidelity Life Assurance in a deal worth $18 million; to pay off its debt to local banks.

The battle for the throne began after Stalap acquired an additional 12,93 percent of CFI’s shares overtaking former major shareholder, Van Hoogstraten’s London-headquartered family trust.

Takeover by the Rudlands followed disposal of 13,6 million CFI shares by the Nssa as part of efforts to streamline operations at the State-owned organisation.

However, Van Hoogstraten then managed to overtake Stalap to emerge as majority shareholder.

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