Hogan: Remgro kept in the dark on Golding

2014-10-28 15:03 - Matthew le Cordeur
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Former minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan.

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Cape Town – Remgro [JSE:REM], which has a significant stake in e.tv, was allegedly kept in the dark about the suspension and disciplinary process of former e.tv boss Marcel Golding.

Golding resigned as e.tv CEO on Monday after his failed Labour Court attempt to reverse the decision by his employer, Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) [JSE:HCI], to suspend him pending a disciplinary hearing into gross misconduct, resulting from R24m worth of Ellies shares he bought on behalf of the company.

HCI has a 63% stake in e.tv and HCI Management Services is the company that employed Golding as e.tv CEO.

In her resignation letter as an HCI board member, which was published on Ground Up, former minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan said she was alarmed that Remgro, which has a 31.9% stake in e.tv, “were also not kept informed of developments".

“I fail to understand why this was not done and such failure must surely be grossly negligent?”

BizNews founder Alec Hogg wrote in his Tuesday newsletter: “And so far, not a peep, from the country's most powerful businessman, Johann Rupert, whose Remgro is HCI's partner in the television channel.”

However, Rupert did give a hint of an opinion on Twitter on Tuesday. Replying to Theodore Yach, who commended him for supporting Golding, he tweeted using his @cutmaker handle: “We should all support free speech!”
HCI defends their approach

HCI confirmed on Monday that Golding resigned: “Marcel Golding has elected not to participate in the scheduled disciplinary hearing and has resigned from his employment from the HCI Group with immediate effect,” the firm said in a statement.

“Mr Golding has reserved his rights to pursue claims against the group in the future. HCI advises its shareholders it will defend such claims and has reserved its own rights.”

HCI said they would not deal with this matter through the media.

READ: e.tv's integrity 'non-negotiable' - executive

Hogan raises media freedom concerns

Hogan resigned with immediate effect on Monday, citing HCI’s handling of the Golding situation. “I cannot associate myself with certain recent developments within the HCI Group concerning the chair, Marcel Golding,” she wrote.

Hogan said she was “uneasy with the proposition that the discontent with Marcel’s leadership can solely be attributed to the alleged unauthorised trading in Ellie’s shares”.

“Whilst the latter requires investigation, I am mindful of the briefing that Yunis Shaik gave me when he claimed that Sactwu, a significant shareholder in HCI, had lost patience with the editorial practices of eTV, citing the failure to give prominent coverage to Minister Ebrahim Patel’s economic pronouncements, as an instance of such dissatisfaction.

“The fact that Sactwu later refused to approve any restructuring proposals, which would have separated the media interests of the company from HCI, thereby enabling Sabido to separate from HCI with Marcel at the helm of the former, (a restructuring endorsed by the HCI Board) reinforces my unease."

Appalled at unprofessional process

“I am appalled at the unprofessional way in which the process to inquire into the Ellie’s trading matter has unfolded. That a sub-committee of the HCI board, that was appointed to inquire into the merits of the allegations, took it upon itself to take such drastic actions, such as the suspension of Marcel Golding as CEO of Sabido, a subsidiary of HCI without even a formal report to the HCI or Sabido boards, or even providing documentation in support thereof, is unacceptable to me.

“It now transpires that Remgro, a substantial shareholder in Sabido, were also not kept informed of developments; I fail to understand why this was not done and such failure must surely be grossly negligent?

“I fail also to understand why no immediate plan was put into place regarding management arrangements at Sabido with the hasty suspension of its CEO. That the board was asked a little while thereafter to formally ratify all of these actions, with no formal written report or documentation in support thereof, is even more unacceptable, even though the chair of the sub-committee had previously promised that such a report would be made available in due course.

“At all times during this process, the HCI board has never been provided with a formal report concerning these matters. The matter is now very much in the public domain and the HCI board has still not received a formal report and the value of the company has declined.”

Reaction to Hogan on Twitter
- See infographic.
- See full judgment delivered on Monday
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e.tv boss court application fails - as it happened

- Fin24

Read more about: remgro  |  hci  |  e.tv  |  marcel golding  |  johann rupert  |  media  |  tech

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