Choppies has opened bids for its 88 stores in South Africa to settle its outstanding debt. Supplied

JOHANNESBURG – Choppies has opened bids for its 88 stores in South Africa to settle its outstanding debt.

Choppies, which operates in eight African countries, said yesterday it had opened up to bids for its South African assets until the 28th of this month and will expedite the sale process.

The group had previously said it was considering pulling out of its South African operations after a review of the business and that it had received offers.

It also indicated last week that said it had received interest on its anzanian business and was in talks to offload its Kenyan operations.

On Wednesday, it said it had also agreed with its auditors, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), on the finalisation of its long-standing results for 2018.

It said the financials would be released by December 6.

Choppies was suspended on both the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Botswana Stock Exchange as battle for control of the retailer swung back and forth between founding chief executive Ramachandran Ottapathu and a now-defunct board, which put him out to pasture on allegations of financial misappropriation.

The group said it had also beefed-up its legal fronts with the appointments of advocates Mark Meyerowitz and Andrew Redding SC to advise on any employee, including Ottapathu.

It said it had retained the services of Meyerowitz and Guy Hoffman to advise on corporate governance, directors’ duties and the collective responsibility of the board, and the members thereof, up to September 3 this year.

“These counsels have commenced their review. Their report is expected at the end of November,” the group said.

Ottapathu, who recently regained his foothold in the group via shareholder vote, is aligned with the group’s deputy chairperson and co-founder Farouk Ismail in proclaiming his innocence of financial misappropriation.

The two are against non-executive directors Ronald Tamale, Wilfred Mpai, Dorcas Kgosietsile and former Botswana president Festus Mogae, who say they launched two investigations, one legal and one forensic, to address serious governance concerns raised by auditors PwC.

Ottapathu was accused of using R137million of the retailer’s cash to finance the acquisition of his personal 50percent stake in competing retailer, Fours Group.