Friday, March 31, 2023

Stiff resistance expected against sale of Mmegi

Minority shareholders at Mmegi Publishing Trust (MPT) are expected to challenge the sale of the company’s 30 percent in Mmegi Investment Holdings (MIH) to other shareholders, Methaitsile Leepile and Titus Mbuya.

The minority shareholders held a meeting on Tuesday at which the share sale of the company was the sole issue under discussion.

At stake are four newspapers, being Mmegi, Mmegi Monitor, Guardian and the Midweeksun and other subsidiary companies all owned by Mmegi Investment Hodings whose major shareholders are the Mine Workers Union and MPT.

The Mine Workers Union owns 28 percent shares while MPT, composed of numerous minority shareholders, owns 45 percent. With 30 percent ownership of Mmegi Investment Holdings, whoever buys the shares is most likely to control public opinion in Botswana.

While Leepile and Mbuya have interest in seizing control of the company, there are claims that the two are fronting for land mogul and businessman Sayid Jamali.

While a cheque has already been made out for payment of the shares, minority shareholders, who are over 20, contend that the sale is flawed because there was no adequate notice given to them.

The latter also query the haste in which the company shares were sold and insist that the calculation of time as to when bids would not be accepted included even weekends while, in fact, only working days suffice when calculating deadline time.

It is understood that the minority league within the company has taken a decision that the process be restarted to allow interested stakeholders at MPT to also get an opportunity to buy.

At the time of going to press, neither Leepile or Mbuya were available for comment. However, Jamali has also indicated that he would neither confirm nor deny that he is buying shares through the duo.
Meanwhile the email correspondence between the board members and trustees reveal a fierce battle for the soul of the company.

Dr Howard Segwele, chairman of the group company is among those who are wrestling to defend the takeover bid by the Leepile and Mbuya camp.

Information passed to the Sunday Standard is that a cheque has been paid.

“I have received a cheque amounting to P5, 326,830.00 from Lerumo Mogobe Legal Practitioners with a narration that it is for payment shares by Mr Methaetsile Leepile and Mr Titus Mbuya…I am passing the cheque to Mr Ntebela for banking whilst waiting for further instructions from your office and MPT.”

Sgwele has resisted attempts by Leepile and Mbuya to evaluate the company’s asserts as part of the due diligence exercise before the sale.

“….Information requested belongs to MIH as a company and therefore its access for private use can never be left to individual use without knowledge and approval by the board! This forms part of our fiduciary responsibility. Pure and simple. This fear about other competitors will therefore not convince me to do otherwise,” says, in his email response to Leepile and Mbuya who had proposed that the process be hastened to avoid competitors getting wind of the information.

Despite the resistance from some of the board members and shareholders, Leepile and Mbuya are resolved and have nevertheless taken to press forward with the transaction with or without benefit of legal advice from the Mmegi Publishing Trust board.

“…..we are alerting the MPT Trustees about the development involving their sale. We are monitoring the situation very closely, and we expect Rre Segwele to act with authority and magnanimity that befits his position. We expect him not to interfere with the process through the employment of unsavoury ‘technical’ and other tactics orchestrated by interested parties and transfer the shares we have purchased, in our names immediately (after) the cheque has cleared. It should have by now. He should be aware that for each day he prevaricates, we are losing money,” says the duo.

The Company Secretary, Smile Diamond, has indicated the cheque from Leepile and Mbuya for MPT shares has already been received but maintains that it does not finalise the sale process as shares have to be transferred and apportioned in line with assessing other shareholders who have accepted the bid pay up for shares.

Meanwhile, the Mine Workers Union, the second largest shareholder at Mmegi Investment Holding is expected to hold a central committee meeting to discuss the issue.


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