MWANA Africa, the parent company of Bindura Nickel Corporation and Zimbabwe’s largest gold mine — Freda Rebecca — has become a prime target of a hostile take-over bid as it emerged this week that a group linked to its chairperson Mark Wellesley-Wood is angling for control of the London Stock Exchange-listed mining junior, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
By Chris Muronzi
Mwana Africa appointed Wellesley-Wood to the position of chairperson in September last year.
Wellesley-Wood, who was hired by the Kebbles — Roger and the late Bret — of South Africa to run DRD, a Johannesburg stock exchange-listed gold mining group in 2000, courted controversy for fighting his former bosses for five years in a messy bout that saw Roger being axed from DRD and spending a night in a cell over a fraud charge involving R6,4 million.
Bret was mysteriously gunned down in Johannesburg in 2005.
According to reports, Roger accused Wellesley-Wood of snatching control of DRD through “a devious and highly questionable strategy”, as well as delaying the listing of Randgold Resources, a UK and US-listed entity.
Wellesley-Wood illegally retrieved bank and telephone statements through a firm of privately contracted investigators, “industrial and international espionage”, and organised a raid of Roger’s accounts by the South African Revenue Services, reports said.
Sources say Wellesley-Wood’s push could be linked to another failed Central Asian Resources (Centar) attempt last year to control Mwana Africa, whose assets are grossly discounted because of the risk premium attached to the countries the firm has operations in such as Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This comes after respected UK analyst, John Meyer of SP Angel warned Wellesley-Wood’s appointment could dent Mwana Africa’s image with analysts and investors, adding the move heralded potential for disaster.
“Why would a company take on a character who previously presided over a failing high cost African gold miner while enjoying the benefits of an excessive salary at the vast expense of shareholders and the company?” asked Meyer last September.
Speculation is he could be positioning himself for an executive role at Mwana.
According to sources, Centar wanted to shut down Trojan Nickel mine in Bindura and focus on the profitable Freda gold mine in the same area, a move that would have thrown thousands of workers onto the streets.
Centar entered into a joint venture agreement with John Moxon-led Meikles Africa Ltd to form Meikles Centar.
During his term as CEO of DRD, Wellesley-Wood presided over six losses in seven years at DRD.
Mwana Africa officials were not available for comment at the time of going to print.