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Another executive quits strife-torn CFI

By Shame Makoshori

CFI Holdings Limited’s acting chief executive officer (CEO), Timothy Nyika, resigned with immediate effect on Thursday last week, amid intensifying boardroom wars engulfing the agro-industrial group.

Nicholas van Hoogstraten arrives at the High Court in the UK (Image: Ian Vogler/DAILY MIRROR)
Nicholas van Hoogstraten arrives at the High Court in the UK (Image: Ian Vogler/DAILY MIRROR)

In his resignation letter, obtained by The Financial Gazette this week, Nyika did not lay down reasons behind his shock departure from the firm he was brought in to save about 18 months ago.

But the respected chartered accountant appeared to blame the sustained boardroom squabbles for his decision to leave.

“I would like to advise the board of my resignation from both the board and the acting (group chief executive officer) GCEO position with immediate effect,” said Nyika in the letter dated November 30, 2017.

“I would like to wish the board and shareholders in particular, an amicable resolution to their differences and hopefully allow the company and group to continue in the recovery process experienced in the last few months.

I would like to thank you all for the support you afforded myself and the team during my short tenure as part of interim management and hope that the same support will be given to the future leadership of the group and company,” he said.

Nyika’s departure comes in the wake of yet another flare-up at CFI, this time reportedly involving a $5 million transaction, said to have involved Tefco, a microfinance firm owned by the Rudland brothers, who have an indirect interest in CFI through Stalap.

The Financial Gazette has obtained confidential correspondence in which Willoughby’s company secretary, Caroline Williams, charges that there had been a “serious fraudulent act”, at CFI, not attributed in any way to Nyika.

But people aware of developments at the firm said dramatic twists and turns at CFI became the spark behind his exit, as he feared tainting his name. There has not been peace at CFI for a long time with prolonged misunderstandings between Stalap and Nicholas van Hoogstraten’s Willoughby’s Investments, another key shareholder.

Williams’ letter attributes this week’s plans to remove two directors, Douglas Mamvura and Ephraim Chawoneka during an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), to the Tefco transaction. However, in a statement released on Monday, Stalap con- firmed Tefco’s deals with CFI, but did not disclose how much was involved.

In response to Mamvura and Chawoneka’s demand for postponement of this week’s EGM, as well as another one set for December 13, Williams wrote to the two directors’ lawyers, Kantor and Immerman:

“Serious fraudulent acts have recently come to light, following their (Mamvura and Chawoneka) appointment, where a $5 million mortgage bond has been registered against a CFI land asset in favour of a confl icted Rudland company.”

The two had sought the postponement to give them time to respond to a slew of allegations raised by the van Hoogstraten shareholder group.

Willoughby’s is proposing that Hamish Rudland be removed from the CFI board during the December 13 EGM together with Shingi Chibanguza, a Nicholas van Hoogstraten nominee on the company’s board.

In an interview with The Financial Gazette, van Hoogstraten confirmed Nyika’s departure. “I have just been informed that, following on from the recent discovery of a serious $5 million fraud against CFI in September of this year by a Rudland related company — Tefco — the CFI acting CEO, Mr Timothy Nyika has resigned today (November 30) with immediate effect,” van Hoogstraten said. In a statement on Monday, Stalap said Tefco had been bankrolling working capital requirements of some CFI subsidiaries.

The statements did not refer to the $5 million bond revealed by the Willoughby’s side. “Tefco is a microfi nance company that provides working capital finance to CFI’s subsidiaries on an arm’s length basis.

Mr Rudland is a director of the company, has fully declared his interests to the board of CFI and has been recused from any discussions regarding engagement and business relationships between CFI and Tefco,” said the statement.

Stalap is one of the key shareholders in CFI, together with British property tycoon, Nicholas van Hoogstraten’s Willoughby’s Investments.

Nyika was appointed acting CFI CEO in April last year, as the fi rm made changes to key positions with feuding shareholders trying to strike a compromise over key management positions.

Grace Muradzikwa, who took over in April last year as acting group chairperson, resigned from the group last month, a few weeks before the EGM to topple her.

Nyika was deputised by Chibanguza as acting deputy CEO responsible for CFI’s flagship business, Farm & City Centre. Chibanguza has been suspended from the group, and is due to be removed during an EGM penciled for December 13, on the requisition of Stalap.

The 2016 shakeup at CFI also resulted in the departure of long serving CEO, Steve Kuipa from the agro industrial concern, after nearly 14 years at the helm. Board chairman, Simplicius Chihambakwe also retired, while another board member, Patricia Bwerinofa, resigned. The Financial Gazette