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Fling destined to end in acrimony

THAT a fling between one of the oldest and most respected companies on the ZSE and a relatively new banking group headed and controlled  by a CEO much younger than Meikles’ own history, would end badly was written on the wall.

On one side was one of the country’s new banking groups and on the other a hugely conservative group whose Victorian hotel lobbies are still adorned with portraits of colonial-era family relics like Thomas Meikle.

For a while it seemed the old and the new had found common ground.
Then disagreements on the board rocked the merger with former Kingdom Meikles Ltd chairman John Moxon pushing for the ouster of three directors aligned to his CEO and Kingdom Bank founder Nigel Chanakira.

Chanakira then filed externalisation of foreign exchange charges against Moxon that resulted in Moxon being specified.  From there, the marriage was over.
But what many had not seen would be the twist and subplots the story would take.
Late last year the dispute was resolved the old fashioned way: a demerger. From there the story got better.

Econet sold its shares in KMAL at the height of the fight to a consortium comprising of Philip Chiyangwa, Chipo Mtasa, Rugare Chidembo and Temba Mliswa.
The market questioned whether the new shareholders with very different backgrounds would work together.

Again the assortment of shareholders was even weirder. On the one hand is Moxon, a bastion of conservatism, on the other Loackape, the company that Mliswa, Chiyangwa, Chidembo and Mtasa used to acquire 10% shareholding in KMAL.

Though Mtasa stands out as a corporate child, others are not.
Apart from the Loackape deal and its conflict of interest intricacies on the part of Mtasa, who is also CEO of Rainbow Tourism Group, the emergence of prominent banker Farai Rwodzi as chairman of Meikles Ltd post de-merger has given the Meikles story a new angle.

Rwodzi was at the time a key shareholder in African Sun Ltd and chairman of the hotel group. Strange, many thought. Mliswa claims Rwodzi is trying to keep him off the board.
Now in the words of Alice in Wonderland, “it gets curiouser and curiouser”.
Earlier Mliswa had been nominated to the board by his consortium to represent its interests. But Mliswa says Rwodzi wants to keep him off the board.

Rwodzi wants to pay Mliswa off the board. Even more “curiouser” .
Mliswa says Rwodzi has even hired power people to talk him out. The story gets better.
Rwodzi will not have him on the board because he seized a farm during the land reform.
A few weeks ago, the Independent revealed that contrary to reports, Mliswa was not yet a director although he had been nominated by his consortium.

But what exactly could have brought Rwodzi to the board of a competitor? Why is Mliswa not yet on the board?

Is there a grand plan where Rwodzi would also want to pursue a similar merger?
He owns and has interest in hotels and so does Meikles.
Rwodzi is also in the financial services industry with shareholding in Interfin Merchant Bank and Altfin Insurance.

Considering that Meikles has a thing for banks, would Moxon and Rwodzi be going for another merger, only this time with a bigger and better group with interests in hotels and financials services?
So far the story is unfolding and it must be watched.

Chris Muronzi

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