HomeBusiness DigestTN pushes for board changes at Pelhams

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TNFH CEO Tawanda Nyambirai confirmed sending a letter to Pelhams requesting board representation.

“We requested board representation and asked for five or six seats,” Nyambirai said.  “We have made the sentiment known to the current board. We don’t want it to be hostile.”

Nyambirai said he expected to hear from Pelhams before today.

Asked what course of action he would take should Pelhams not meet his request for board representation, Nyambirai said TNFH would have to call for a shareholders’ meeting.

“But I am confident it will not get to that,” he said.

TN Asset Management Nominees, an investment company representing Nyambirai, bought businessman Oliver Chidawu’s 36% stake in Pelhams in a special bargain of 358 207 502 shares at 0,71c in October last year. Chidawu had placed the shares as collateral for a US$3 million loan from businessman Jayesh Shah and after Chidawu failed to honour the terms of the loan agreement, Shah sold the collateral to TN Asset Management Nominees.

Chidawu attempted to block the transaction through an urgent court application but the court dismissed the application on the grounds that it was not urgent.

TN later bought an additional 22% stake in Pelhams, giving it a 58% effective control of Pelhams. TNH qualifies for a board seat for every 10% of equity held.

Nyambirai dismissed rife market speculation that relations between himself and Econet Wireless founder Strive Masiyiwa had gone awry, amid reports the telecoms tycoon had muscled his way into the lawyer’s TN Bank.

The market was abuzz with rumours that Masiyiwa intended to convert a US$20 million debt in TN Bank into equity, but Nyambirai discounted this, saying Econet would bring in new capital.

“Strive and I are still very close. Those are just wishes.  The capital that is coming to TN Bank is new capital,” he said.

Businessdigest in March exclusively reported that Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the country’s largest mobile phone operator in terms of subscribers and coverage, was on the verge of concluding the acquisition of 49% equity in TN Bank.

Econet agreed to pay US$20 million for a 49% stake in TN Bank, a development that valued the bank at approximately US$40 million.

The mobile phone operator’s decision to buy into TN Bank was part of a wider plan to facilitate and broaden its EcoCash product, which the mobile phone operator launched in partnership with the bank.

Analysts said the deal would help create business synergies for the bank and Econet.

Ecocash is a mobile money transfer product. TN Bank was actively involved in the registration of EcoCash clients.

TNFH has said that it will de-merge TN Bank and the furniture division and list the businesses separately on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, a move management hopes will unlock share value.

Nyambirai is also chairman of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. — Staff Writer.

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