Protech financial director resigns

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Listed construction and engineering group Protech Khuthele (PKH) says group financial director Nellis Wolmarans has resigned in terms of a “mutual separation agreement”.

But it says this has nothing to do with the hostile takeover bid by JSE-listed contract mining and equipment group Eqstra (EQS).

On Thursday‚ Protech said in a stock exchange statement that Wolmarans had also resigned from the board of Protech Khuthele Holdings‚ as well as from all other directorships and offices he holds in the company and its affiliates.

In November‚ Protech suspended Wolmarans pending the outcome of an “internal investigation”. In the interim‚ it said CEO Antony Page would oversee the financial affairs of the group.

Page said on Thursday the separation agreement and subsequent resignation of Wolmarans as group financial director was unrelated to the Eqstra acquisition bid.

“The mutual separation agreement entered into between Protech and Nellis Wolmarans contains non-disclosure and confidentiality clauses‚” he said.

“As a result‚ Protech is not able to divulge particulars of the internal investigation or the mutual separation agreement.”

Protech’s independent board last month appointed advisory firm PwC Corporate Finance as the independent expert on whether the terms and conditions of Eqstra’s unsolicited yet firm intention to buy Protech for 60c per share were fair and reasonable.

The broad-based civil engineering group in December also offered a robust defence of its turnaround strategy in the context of a potential hostile takeover by Eqstra‚ which owns 32.8% of the company.

It had earlier said its performance in financial year 2012 reflected the tight operating environment in both infrastructure and mining.

Chris Logan‚ chief investment officer of Opportune Investments‚ which has about a 0.3% stake in Protech‚ said in December the 60c per share offer was “derisory”. He said it was at a 36% discount to the company’s net asset value.

Protech had earlier “reminded” Eqstra that the three-day deadline imposed on its independent board in relation to the proposed takeover was “hostile and aggressive”. - I-Net Bridge

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