New evidence has emerged showing that a company that was engaged by Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) to sell the commission’s products in Europe - GPS Food Group, has links with the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco).
This has heightened fears of conflict of interest and lack of adherence to principles of corporate governance. Last year December BMC engaged GPS Food Group to take over the sales, management, planning and marketing of the BMC products in Europe in the process retrenching 18 employees who handled the day-to-day activities of the commission. Last week BMC acting CEO Dr. Akolang Tombale confirmed that the group does the same work for Meatco – BMC’s main competitor in Europe. Tombale did not see anything wrong with the arrangement saying that BMC has systems in place to monitor the service rendered by the company.
This week Botswana Guardian can reveal that GPS Food Group and Meatco are closer than recently revealed by the acting CEO. Besides being contracted by Meatco, records seen by this newspaper show that some directors of Meatco are at the same time directors of GPS Food Group. There are two names that feature prominently in the boards of the two companies according to documents seen by Botswana Guardian from the UK Companies house (UK company registrar). Brain Perkins is the founding board member and owner of GPS Food Group. He was appointed to the company’s board on the 4th June 2008, when he formed the company.
Perkins ,according to the documents, also features in the MeatCo board of directors having been appointed into the board on the 11th November 2008.
Padraig Anthony McCarthy, like Perkins, is the co-founder of GPS Food Group having been appointed into the group on the 4th June 2008. He also appears in Meat Co records as director. He was appointed on the 8th March 2008, but left the company on 11th February this year three months after BMC and GPS signed agreement for the latter to sell BMC products in Europe. The simultaneous appearance of Perkins and McCarthy as directors of the two companies has given credence to speculations that the Namibian meat company wants to takeover BMC.
Documents seen by this newspaper further show that while BMC UK has been on decline for the past five years, its competitor Meatco has been performing well, registering better financial results. While BMC UK registered a turnover of about £1 million (P13 Million), MeatCo turnover was £4 Million (P51 million). It remains to be seen whether GPS would be able to give the two companies equal attention. This week Tombale said that he was not aware that the two companies -Meatco and GPS Food Group -share the same directors, but said that this would not be a surprise because GPS Food Group is currently running Meatco in UK. “Our arrangement is different in that they are only selling our products. We are very much happy with the job they [GPS Food group] are doing,” he said.
Tombale also added that Meatco UK and BMC are not competitors because in Europe their combined production is too small. He said that both Meatco and BMC should work together instead of competing. “…In fact in the past we used to sell Meatco products. So there is nothing wrong with helping each other to penetrate the European market,” he said.