Zim severs more ties with Guptas

2012-04-14 14:12

Veteran businesman Lazarus Zim is not letting up on his quest to shed ties with the controversial Gupta family.

Last week, he withdrew Atul Gupta as his alternate director on the board of platinum producer Northam Platinum. He chairs Northam’s board and his company, Afripalm Resources, controls the platinum miner through its stake in Mvelaphanda Resources.

An alternate director is a person who is appointed to attend a board meeting on behalf of the director of a company when the principal director is unable to attend.

Last December, Zim told City Press that he was cutting business ties with the wealthy Gupta family, which comprises Ajay and younger brothers Atul and Rajesh.

At the time, Zim said he was pulling out of the Guptas’ ventures to focus on Afripalm’s key projects.

“I am out of The New Age and other [Gupta] businesses. I have limited time and it’s a question of reprioritising my efforts to focus on key projects. I will announce these in due course. The separation happened last year (2010),” Zim told City Press.

City Press was not able to get a comment from Zim regarding his decision to withdraw Atul Gupta as his alternate director in Northam, but a Northam spokesperson said it was Zim’s “discretion” to appoint or withdraw an alternate director.

However, Atul Gupta is still a director in Afripalm, in which his family owns a 15% stake through an investment vehicle, Oakbay Trust. Before pulling out of the daily newspaper, The New Age, Zim was instrumental in its launch in 2010.

He is the largest shareholder of Afripalm, holding about 30% of the company. Another key investor in Afripalm is an entity known as Unipalm, which owns 15% of the group. Unipalm is chaired by communications specialist Thandi Ramathesele, who is a former general manager of television channel SABC 2.


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