British tycoon van Hoog escalates CFI fight

Nicholas van Hoogstraten
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Willoughby’s Investments, one of the major shareholders in CFI Holdings Limited, is now seeking removal of three directors including the acting chairperson, Grace Muradzikwa, escalating the war over control of the agro-industrial conglomerate.

Last week Willoughby’s Investments, with support from the other shareholders, called for an extraordinary general meeting for November 15 to scrap the disposal of an 81 percent shareholding in Langford Estates 1962 (Pvt) Ltd for $18 million to Fidelity Life Assurance.

Willoughby’s Investments has written to CFI requesting that the group calls for another EGM for the purpose of removing Muradzikwa and two directors recently nominated by the National Social Security Authority, Douglas Mamvura and Ephraim Chawoneka, whose appointments were announced on May 30 this year.

“In view of the previous history of corruption and confliction surrounding the above land and various other land-related issues we require the resignation of the NSSA nominated Directors Douglas Mamvura and Ephraim Chawoneka,” Willoughby said in a letter dated October 17.

“These persons, in connivance with other parties, have been responsible for the inordinate delay and refusal to activate the process to cancel the illegal Langford Estates transaction and to carry out the forensic land audit.”

CFI sold off Langford in 2015 to Fidelity to pay off combined debts of $18 million, owed to FBC Bank, Agribank, CBZ, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, NMB and Standard Chartered.

At the time, it said the deal was a “sale and purchase agreement as well as a debt assumption and compromise agreement to dispose of 81 percent of Langford Estates (Private) Limited, a property investment company, for a total consideration of $18 million through a debt for land swap arrangement.”

Fidelity plans to use Langford Estates to expand its Southview Park high density residential housing scheme.

British tycoon, Nicholas van Hoogstraten argues that the deal, at $2.20 per square metre, undervalued the land against a true market value of around $6 per square metre.

Willoughby alleged that the acting chairperson, Grace Muradzikwa was not only historically conflicted on the matter but has failed to properly direct the Board and act on the many issues of conflict relating to the dishonesty and corruption concerning generally and in particular, the current legal proceedings with Philip Chiyangwa.

“We hereby give you Formal Notice that we require you, within the next 21 days to requisition an Extraordinary General Meeting for the purpose of removing these three directors.

“Be in no doubt that should you not activate this notice within the next 21 days, we shall do so ourselves and recover all our costs personally from CFI Directors who by their action or inaction fail to activate this Notice,” said Willoughby in the letter.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) recently said it had engaged Willoughby’s Investments (Pvt) Limited for further clarification after the company issued a notice calling for the EGM.

According to Willoughby, the EGM held on October 16, 2015 to prove the Langford Estates sale did not meet the ZSE regulations and that minorities were not fully informed of the nature of the EGM.- The Source