Durban - Business rescue practitioner Karl Gribnitz, who has been placed under provisional sequestration, says he has resigned from some, but not all, matters in which he was appointed to assist financially ailing companies.
One of those from which he has resigned is Blythedale Coastal Resorts, the company set up following a land claim deal to spearhead a R10 billion development on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. Court action by the community had stalled the project.
The Mercury reported last week that a sequestration order had been granted against Gribnitz by the Pretoria High Court.
The application was brought by Afgri Operations, a company specialising in loans to the agricultural sector, which said he owed it at least R9 million and possibly a further R21m.
Gribnitz, who has been involved in many high-profile business rescues, said he intended taking urgent action to overturn the order.
“I have resigned from all matters to which I was appointed after May 1 this year. The other three matters I am involved with I have not resigned as my counsel is preparing papers to have the (sequestration) order rescinded,” he said.
In terms of legislation, if a practitioner is not a fit and proper person, he must resign voluntarily or an interested party may apply to court to compel him to resign.
The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission – which oversees the rescue process – has no power to remove him, but it may investigate complaints.
One complaint has come from an attorney acting for the KwaDukuza Municipality, which is a creditor to Blythedale and a matter involving the Ballito Bay Mall.
In a letter to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, Ahmed Asmal says he has “encountered several problems” with Gribnitz in the Ballito Bay Mall case, one of which is that he has not published a business rescue plan as required by law, and has launched unnecessary court applications.
Another complaint relates to a response from Gribnitz to an e-mail Asmal wrote to him soon after his appointment to Blythedale Coastal Resorts, asking whether money was available for monthly rates payments. Gribnitz had responded: “Have a good life, k”.
“We wrote back advising that this response was unbecoming to say the least,” Asmal said.
Asked to comment, Gribnitz said he had a “peculiar history” with Asmal.
“I wished him well in my private capacity, since I was not the practitioner of Blythedale Coastal Resorts at the time I sent the remark to him,” he said. “The (commission) has no jurisdiction over my private e-mails.”
Questions were sent to the commission regarding this, but no response has been received.
However, commission member Amanda Lotheringen, in a response to Asmal, said the body could investigate and suggested he complete the forms.
She said Gribnitz had informed the commission of the sequestration proceedings against him and had “indicated he will resign from the distressed ventures he was handling”. He could not take up new appointments, she said.
Mark Taylor, of Blythedale Coastal Resorts, confirmed that Gribnitz was no longer involved and Ken Stewart had been appointed.
A creditor has also written to the commission, questioning the decision by directors to place the company in rescue, saying it is not trading and cannot do so until the outcome of the Land Claims case. - The Mercury