Awethu Breweries boss in case of mistaken identity

2015-01-11 15:00

If his ID number is to be believed, the chief executive of embattled Awethu Breweries is actually a 66-year-old woman from Ndwedwe, about 60km north of Durban.

Awethu Breweries has fallen foul of JSE rules by missing its deadline to submit its financial report for the fifth time in 15 years.

The JSE is now threatening the firm with suspension, a fine or even delisting.

Perhaps more baffling than its corporate tardiness is the mystery of CEO Than Wan “Tony” Ford’s ID number.

Company records show that Ford, who has a string of businesses in the Vaal Triangle, is registered as director of Awethu Breweries with an ID number belonging to the Ndwedwe resident.

He has also used this ID number to register directorships in Awethu Financial Services and Hotshot Liquors. Ford was unable to explain why his ID number, when entered into department of home affairs’ system, showed that he was a woman from Ndwedwe.

Despite promising to respond to requests for comment, Ford had not done so at the time of going to press.

An official at the department of home affairs’ Wynberg, Joburg, branch told City Press that when the ID number was entered into its system, the Ndwedwe resident’s name came up.

Ford’s directorships in 43 other companies – including Delfos Meat and Chick Distributors, Delfos Quality Foods and Delfos Motor Assembly – were registered under a second ID number, which home affairs confirmed belonged to him.

But another company, Plexiphon 157, was registered under a nonexistent ID number, and annual results previously published by the Vanderbijlpark-based Awethu Breweries linked Ford to this web of companies.

In its results for 2000, the brewer – the second-largest mageu and sorghum beer producer in its heyday – said Ford held significant business interests in the Delfos Group.

Its 2013 annual report lists a related party transaction with Plexiphon, which Awethu said was wholly owned by Ford.

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, which registers companies, requires supporting documentation – including certified copies of IDs – before finalising company registrations or directorships.

It is not clear how Ford got past this requirement. Commissioner Astrid Ludin did not respond to queries regarding this matter.

Awethu is flirting with a hefty fine or delisting for its habit of lodging financial reports late, coupled with its tendency to put out trading statements – warning investors there could be a 20% difference in its financial results compared with the previous year – just before releasing these results.

John Burke, the JSE’s director of issuer regulation, said there was “no hard and fast rule” for dealing with listed companies that repeatedly did not file on time.

“There are always different circumstances,” Burke said. “We can fine the company or its directors up to R6?million each, we can privately or publicly censure them, or we can suspend or delist them.

“This will all depend on the severity of the transgression.”

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