A SPECIFIC share buyback by Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) of 2-million shares held by its executives and former directors did not point to a rift between management and the conglomerate’s major shareholder, the SA Clothing and Textile Worker’s Union (Sactwu).

At a general meeting on Tuesday, HCI CEO Johnny Copelyn said there were no disagreements between the company, its executive management and Sactwu. He was responding to shareholder Chris Logan, the CEO of Opportune Investments, who asked whether HCI’s “derating” against its largest investment, gaming group Tsogo Sun Holdings, stemmed from perceptions that there was dissension between HCI’s management and Sactwu.

Late last year HCI suffered major boardroom ructions when co-founder and chairman Marcel Golding was suspended over alleged irregular share dealings in technology group Ellies.

Mr Golding, who later resigned, alleged a rift with Sactwu over the running of HCI subsidiary Sabido Investments was the root cause of boardroom tensions. Sabido owns e.tv and Sactwu owns 32.2% of HCI.

HCI’s R300m share buyback transaction was linked to the recent unbundling and listing of HCI’s US-based natural gas subsidiary, Montauk.

Because Sactwu preferred to restrict its investments to South African-based operations, the HCI directors — including Mr Copelyn, financial director Kevin Govender, Andre van der Veen and Mr Golding — agreed to take up the union’s Montauk share allocation. To facilitate and fund the transaction Messrs Copelyn, Govender, Van der Veen and Golding agreed to sell a parcel of HCI shares back to the company.

Mr Copelyn argued that Sactwu’s desire not to be involved with offshore gas assets was perfectly logical. “There has been no indication from Sactwu that any of the things HCI has done are objectionable … or does not have their support.

“We make decisions based on commercial principles, and we have a good rapport with Sactwu.”

Source: BDLive – Marc Hasenfuss