CFI Holdings saga in new twist

HARARE - The battle to control diversified concern, CFI Holdings (CFI), has taken a new twist amid indications that Zimre Holdings (Zimre) is fighting to keep its directors on the struggling company’s board.

This was after CFI had agreed to hold an extraordinary general meeting — requisitioned by Willoughby’s Investments — next month to remove Douglas Mamvura and Ephraim Chawoneka from its board.

In October, Willoughby’s Investments, one of the major shareholders in CFI, said the directors should be dismissed on the previous history of corruption and conflict surrounding Langford Estates 1962 (Private) Limited and various other land-related issues…”

Willoughby’s Investments, which is controlled by business tycoon Nick Van Hoogstraten, also said Chawoneka and Mamvura were responsible for “the inordinate delay and refusal to activate the process to cancel the illegal Langford Estates transactions and to carry out the forensic land audit”.

CFI sold off Langford in 2015 to Fidelity to pay off combined debts of $18 million, owed to FBC Bank, Agribank, CBZ, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, NMB and Standard Chartered.

At the time, it said the deal was a “sale and purchase agreement as well as a debt assumption and compromise agreement to dispose of 81 percent of Langford Estates (Private) Limited, a property investment company, for a total consideration of $18 million through a debt for land swap arrangement.”

Fidelity plans to use Langford Estates to expand its Southview Park high density residential housing scheme.

However, British tycoon van Hoogstraten argues that the deal, at $2,20 per square metre, undervalued the land against a true market value of around $6 per square metre.

Zimre — through its investment firm Stalap — yesterday said the allegations raised by Van Hoogstraten on its nominees were unfounded.

“The two directors were appointed according to due process laid out in the Companies Act, Chapter 24:03 and CFI articles of association and on the basis of their integrity, qualifications, and corporate and business experience,” Stalap acting company secretary Phillip Mundangepfupfu said.

“Furthermore, the two were nominated by Stalap based on an assessment of their excellent track records and potential to contribute to Stalap’s overall business objective of turning around the business of CFI and restoring its previous “blue-chip” status,” he added.

Mundangepfupfu also dispelled the notion that Mamvura and Chawoneka — who were appointed to the CFI board early this year — had anything to do with the Langford deal.

“The two directors are not individually responsible in any way for the delay in facilitating and convening Willoughby’s proposed EGM for the cancellation or reversal of the Langford Estates transaction. 

“The CFI board of directors acts and makes decisions collectively (together with representatives of Willoughby’s and its allies) and it would be inappropriate to single out or blame two directors for actions or inactions of the board,” he said.

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