‘We wanted to buy back shares’

2010-04-25 11:45

FRESH claims involving ­Chancellor House have emerged as the ANC

grapples with what to do with its front company’s ­investment in Hitachi Power

Africa (HPA), a Japanese engineering firm that received a R38.5?billion

­contract to build two new Eskom power ­stations.

Speaking to City Press during an interview on Thursday, HPA chief

executive Johannes Musel said he had personally spoken to ANC ­treasurer Mathews

Phosa in 2008 in an attempt to get the ruling party, the shareholders of

Chancellor House, to sell back the 25% stake it owns in HPA.

Phosa, Musel said, refused.

“Our initiative after having bad press and what ­Chancellor House

decided, meant we spoke immediately with our shareholders that ‘please, sell us

the shares back. We don’t need bad publicity for our brand’.

“At the end of the day, there was a shareholders agreement, which

was a contract,” Musel said.

This flies in the face of Phosa’s comments in February 2008 – a few

months after he was elected ANC treasurer at the party’s December 2007

­conference in Polokwane – that the ruling party wanted to exit HPA.

At the time, Phosa said a forensic audit of the company’s deals

would be carried out to reveal whether any of them constituted a conflict of

­interest.

Musel said HPA, through its shareholder representatives, would

speak to the ANC again in a bid to convince them to sell back the shares. This

would benefit the ANC to the tune of R50?million over an eight-year

period.

“We have spoken to our ­shareholder during the course of the week

and we will have some ­meetings in the coming weeks.

“It is a shareholder issue and it will require our main shareholder

at the table as well,” he said.

He said there were two options available to HPA.

The first was to “make 100% sure that there is transparency all the

way to where the money goes or they must talk again about getting the shares

back”.

“Those are the two options I can see,” Musel said.

Yesterday, Phosa said he did not want to get embroiled in further

public debates about the future of the ANC stake in Hitachi.

Phosa said: “I’m not interested in what they say. I don’t want to

argue with them. It’s not strategic for me to do that.

“We can’t get involved in ­shareholder discussions in the ­media

with Hitachi. They know who to talk to,” he said.

Phosa said he would be happy to hear what they have to say and

­added that he remained open to ­discussion.

He said his previous position that he was waiting for the

Chancellor House Trust to present him with ­exit options had not changed.

Chancellor House managing ­director Mamatho Netsianda ­refused to

comment on the matter.

Netsianda said: “There are other important ­national issues you

should be writing about. Chancellor House is not an issue.”

He then tore into the reporter: “I have problem with you black

­journalists, you always write ­negatively about government. What about the

electricity supply to ­communities?”


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