JOHANNESBURG - The boardroom battle of Botswana-born and JSE-listed supermarket chain, Choppies Enterprises, is heading for resolution by shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in Gaborone early next month on 4 September.
Choppies shares have been suspended on both bourses since 1 November 2018 on account of the company’s auditors PwC’s inability to finalise the 2018 financial statements due to certain irregularities.
Earlier in the year, Choppies founder and chief executive, Ramachandran Ottapathu made some suggestions to the non-executive directors as to changes to the board and structural changes to the company.
Thereafter on 22 May, the non-executive directors, including former Botswana President Festus Mogae, suspended Ottapathu "as a result of an aggregation of activities and conduct by him".
The non-executive directors initiated legal and forensic reports which have now been finalised and summaries of these reports were circulated to shareholders via X-News (Botswana) and SENS (JSE) announcements on Wednesday this week.
In a statement late Thursday, Ottapathu said he was preparing his response after Choppies gave him the right of reply to the legal and forensic reports on X-News and SENS.
Ottapathu has maintained that his suspension was a consequence of personal differences with some members of the board and retaliation for his proposal to introduce a much-needed governance change within Choppies and the board itself, and believes he would be vindicated of wrongdoing.
"The summaries are not a true reflection of the reports themselves and the detailed reports clearly indicate that I did not benefit financially in any of the transactions examined, and there is no substance to any of the money laundering allegations levelled against me in the reports and it is inconclusive in its findings," he said.
"We look forward to the EGM which, hopefully, will resolve all these issues and allow us to rebuild the great company that Choppies is -- for the benefit of its stakeholders including customers, staff and shareholders.
"This is a business we built from scratch and I have given my life to it over the last 27 years."
- African News Agency (ANA)