Friday, December 13, 2019

Yet another “shake up” at Choppies linked Property Company – FAR

The Botswana Stock Exchange property listed FAR Property Company (FPC) with close ties to the Choppies group has parted ways with its company secretary and went on to appoint Bafana Molomo to its board of directors.

Without shedding much light, the company has confirmed that it has since replaced its old Company Secretary with Kingsway (Proprietary) Limited.

The appointment of Kingsway (Proprietary) Limited as company secretary is effective 12th November 2019 according to a communiqué distributed to the capital markets this past week.

FAR Property, just like its sister company – Choppies Enterprise has had its share of numerous structure changes in the past several months.

In June 2019 the company parted ways with one of its directors – Robert Neill Matthews.  Matthews was replaced by Ranjith Priyalal De Silva who previously served as Audit Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Botswana. Fast forward to October 2019 FAR Property delivered two retaliatory blows announcing that it has axed its external auditor PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as well as the resignation of its chairman – Festus Mogae.

FPC was formed as a company in 2010 and was listed in the Botswana’s stock exchange in 2016. The company’s formation was on the basis of consolidating the retail estate owned by Choppies group, and as such the founders of Choppies, Farouk Ismail and Ramachandran Ottapathu, ended up owning majority of FPC, with Ismail’s stake at 39.47 percent while Ottapathu retained 38.18 percent. The two entrepreneurs are also individual major shareholders in Choppies which listed in 2012. Choppies upon listing appointed Mogae as Choppies board chairperson, who also later assumed the same position in FPC as it listed.

The rosy relationship came to a standstill last year when the company became embroiled in a controversy that laid bare the improper corporate governance that has been simmering beneath. In 2018, Choppies parted with its long time auditor KPMG which had audited the company for 10 years, citing the KING IV recommendations.

However, what followed what was an intriguing saga that kept the capital markets on edge, with the drama involving suspension on the stock markets, and made worse by the boardroom brawls that turned friends into enemies. Following PwC’s appointment, the firm raised audit concerns and queries pertaining to the retailer’s compliance with International Financial Reporting Results (IFRS). Consequently, Choppies failed to publish its audited financial results for the year ended June 2018, blaming the delay on change of auditors.

Meanwhile the new board director – Molomo recently resigned as board member of one of the BSE quoted companies. He is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Aleyo Capital. Prior to this he was the Lead Transaction Advisor at state owned enterprise – Botswana Development Corporation Limited where he also once served as Chief Investment Officer.

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