Sparks fly at DW meeting

Chris Muronzi

David Whitehead (DW) Textiles shareholders clashed in an explosive no-holds-barred meeting pitting shareholders on the one hand and Pure Oil Industries Ltd founder Praduman Ganeriwal and the company’s judicial manager Knowledge Hofisi on the other in the aftermath of a controversial acquisition of a 51% equity stake in the firm for ZW$5,4 million by a company controlled by the Indian businessman.
At the meeting, DW shareholder Edwin Chimanye dismissed Ganeriwal’s claims in the meeting that he had no prior interest in the textile company before he controversially acquired the controlling equity in an underhand deal a few months ago for ZW$5,4 million in an action he described as “bold”.
According to records of the stormy meeting seen by businessdigest this week, Ganeriwal had claimed his investment in DW was a “bold step” and that he had no prior “interest in the company” before the transaction.
This triggered an avalanche of attacks from Chimanye who came out with guns blazing to discredit Ganeriwal’s claims.
Chimanye — who had proxies for other shareholders — said Ganeriwal had not been truthful in his claims.
He also grilled judicial manager Hofisi for failing to hold statutory meetings.
The records of the meeting show that Hofisi was taken to task for, among other things, not providing members with minutes of the adjourned meeting.
“I am sorry, Mr Chairman (Justice George Smith). We don’t have the minutes of the previous meeting. How do we proceed without the minutes? It could be a false record of the meeting and we need to verify this,” Chimanye said.
The meeting proceeded after he was given the minutes.
“In previous records, you said part of these shares had been forfeited. Was this a lie?” Chimanye said.
The meeting began with Hofisi explaining the transaction to sell a 51% equity stake to Ganeriwal and how he got the shares.
After that, Ganeriwal spoke glowingly about his business enterprises, saying he employed 1 500 workers. He said he has more successful businesses and hires professionals to manage the businesses.
“I am the founder of Parrogate Zimbabwe,” Ganeriwal tells the meeting. “…I had no intention of ever taking any shares in DW. I have many successful businesses and I am only interested in reviving the company …
“I personally opposed DW being put into final judicial management for the second time. That was because of the then problems it was in and unfortunately remains in. Why are we sitting here? Why it’s in this situation is because of the shareholders, board of directors and managers.”
He said no meaningful investment had been made in the last 16 years, adding the company had antiquated equipment.
“As an investor, I am not short of opportunities to invest my money into but I took a bold decision to acquire a majority shareholding in DW. Nobody has taken this step.”
He claimed he had done the deal to help creditors get their money. He spoke at length about the economic environment and the challenges manufacturers faced and committed to clearing legacy debts.
After Ganeriwal finished his presentations, Chimanye charged that the businessman had not been truthful.
“Mr chair, am I recognised? The last time I tried to speak I was told I wasn’t recognised,” the records show.
At that stage, the chairperson confirms Chimanye was recognised.
“The reason why I wanted to ask questions as we were going along is that this then tends to become quite a number of questions and all at the same time,” he said. “I am confused as to the purpose of the meeting. Are we meeting to reconvene the adjourned September 2018 meeting or are we are meeting to meet people … That is my first question.”
From there, Chimanye shifted his attention towards Ganeriwal.
“Moving on to PK Ganeriwal. Again, it’s all very very confusing because Mr PK says he has taken a bold step to buy into David Whitehead. If a bold step for such an accomplished businessman as PK is RTGS$5,4 million then this is quite shocking. That is not a very bold step, PK Alright! That is the same for almost everyone here. And I am speaking for other members, I have proxies for Ernst Chivaura,” Chimanye says.
“It’s not really accurate to say you were opposed to DW going into judicial management because the record at court that day will show this: you were opposed to Hofisi’s capabilities as JM (judicial manager). I checked that. I remember you and me discussing this less than a year ago as well.”
At that stage, Ganeriwal interjects to say all issues be raised via the chairperson.
“If he has issues, he should address them through the chair,” Ganeriwal said. To which Chimanye says: “No, you were given the room to speak, I am also speaking. And, secondly, you said you had no interest in DW prior to the transaction. Again, that is not true.”
A heated exchange between Chimanye and Ganeriwal ensues with the latter seeking to respond, but to no avail.
“You were among the five bidders who placed bids along with IDC (Industrial Development Corporation) for David Whitehead. So that is not true,” Chimanye continued.
PK asked permission to be allowed to respond to the comments with Chimanye asking to be allowed to continue speaking.
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