Julian Nganunu, the former Chief Justice of Botswana has joined successful businessman John Mynhardt as the only two men who currently chair two listed companies at a go.
Sefalana Holdings Limited, the diversified outfit recently appointed Nganunu, also a shareholder in the company acting chairman following the departure of Daniel Moroka after three years at the helm. Nganunu has been with Sefalana for sometime, but became more active after he left the civil service a few years ago, said a person close to Sefalana. His appointment at the listed Sefalana, though not substantive, is in addition to his role as chairman of another public company Chobe Holdings Limited. Chobe, which saw its half-year results almost doubling for the interim period to August 2013, owns safari lodges in Botswana and neighbouring Namibia.
While Nganunu owns close to P7 million worth of shares at Sefalana, BG Business has not been able to establish whether he has shares at Chobe or not. The company is one of the successful tourism outfits inland. It competes with tourism facilities operators such as dual listed Wilderness Safari.
Nganunu, whose business interests away from Sefalana are not publicly known, is at par with Mynhadrt, at least when it comes to chairing top listed companies, which employ hundreds of people in Botswana and regionally. Meanwhile, Mynhardt is chairman and also an investor in New African Properties and Furnmart, a publicly quoted furniture retail store. NAP, which listed at BSE some two years ago, is an emerging property manager and owns assets across the country and regionally. Furnmart operates furniture stores in Botswana and in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Some market watchers, with knowledge of the stock market believe the dual role might raise issues of competing interests if not closely monitored. As the chairmen of listed companies, the two are responsible for giving strategic advice to management on critical matters. An analyst at one of the broking firms told BG Business that the situation of the two is ‘quite tricky.”
“Their roles raise issues of competing interest. Imagine in a situation where there are two separate board meetings that involve the same companies,” said the source that could not be named for professional reasons. Another source said it is difficult to blame the two chairmen, who were voted rather than being appointed into their positions.
The source said shareholders cannot be stopped from electing their preferred office bearers. Chief Executive of BSE Hiran Mendis had not replied to written questions regarding the dual role of Nganunu and Mynhardt at press time. Nganunu and Mynhardt control companies boasting a market capitalisation of well over P3 billion, about 4 percent of Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).