HCI bromance ripped to shreds

2014-11-02 16:00

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For the first time in 20 years in business at the side of long-term partner Johnny Copelyn, Marcel Golding has no immediate plans as to what he’ll do next.

But he does plan to spend time with his young ­children after quitting his post as Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) chairman at the company’s AGM on Thursday.

Golding and Copelyn live down the road from each other in Camps Bay, Cape Town.

They have spent decades as friends and business partners and the final end to the bromance at HCI’s emotional meeting indicated the souring of relations between them was sad for both.

Their history cannot be split. Both were unionists and followed the same path from unions to Parliament and then to the formation of their company and e.tv in 1997, the growth of which has placed them among South Africa’s wealthiest individuals.

HCI’s share has been relatively strong in the wake of HCI’s boardroom debacle. At a share price of R149.22, its decline in the last two weeks of drama has not been significant, although it has dropped more than 12% over the past three months.

Copelyn and Golding sat next to each other at Golding’s last meeting as chairman of HCI this week, both looking pale, citing irreconcilable differences and wishing one another the best of luck.

“You two look really great together. Is there no chance of kissing and making up?” enquired a shareholder. The men shook their heads.

At e.tv, staffers said they lost in Golding a father figure and patriarch. “People are confused, we don’t know how we’ll be affected,” said one member of staff.

Golding is expected to resign from all HCI group companies this week, its finance chief Kevin ­Govender told City Press on Friday.

Remgro, which owns 31.9% of e.tv parent company Sabido Investments, an HCI subsidiary, was kept in the dark about the developments regarding Golding’s suspension, according to a letter from board member Barbara Hogan, who resigned this week. She said this failure was grossly negligent.

According to Golding’s affidavit in the Labour Court, Remgro was said to be mulling possible legal action over the breach of its rights related to Golding’s ¬suspension, which followed the unauthorised purchase of R24?million worth of shares in equipment manufacturer Ellies on behalf of Sabido.

Govender, who is acting as Sabido’s CEO, downplayed the issues with Remgro. “I don’t think there was any issue with them except we didn’t take them into our confidence,” he said.

According to him, the company was unsure about Golding’s next step as he had previously said he would pursue a case of unfair dismissal after his labour court bid to stave off a disciplinary hearing failed on ­Monday. Golding’s resignation from the HCI board ended a boardroom battle sparked 14 months ago by his interest in buying a 25% stake in Ellies at an estimated price of R200 million.

Towards the end of March, the relationship between Golding and Copelyn began to fray amid claims that the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union, a controlling shareholder in HCI, was interfering in e.tv’s editorial content through Yunis Shaik, its representative.

Govender said Golding’s claims of political interference had cast a pall on e.tv, damaging its reputation. “He hasn’t been able to show there was political interference. In other words, to try and hide the charges that he’s got before him and face up to, that’s what he’s trying to avoid. I think the damage that has been done wasn’t appropriate; to bring a cloud on to the station.”

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