THE BOTTOM LINE
That uneasy Uma-Oprah link between Bidvest and Bidcorp
Companies supposedly went their very different ways in 2016, but ties are a lot more worrying than they seem
Bidcorp and Bidvest went their separate ways back in May 2016. The official line is that the unbundling created two standalone companies with separate identities, clear focus and performance goals.
The agendas for the two companies’ annual general meetings tell a slightly different story and remind us of how closely entwined the two are.
Brian Joffe, who founded Bidvest/Bidcorp 30 years ago, stayed on as a director at Bidcorp and has now entered into a consulting arrangement with the group.
In 2018, former Investec CEO Stephen Koseff was appointed “independent” Bidcorp chairperson. Koseff and Investec’s ties with Bidvest go way back to the early days of the acquisitive industrial/services conglomerate.
Presumably it’s because of that long association that the Bidcorp board decided it needed to appoint a lead independent director. That would have been good corporate governance if it weren’t for the fact that the lead independent director selected was Doug Band, who has ties that go back almost as far as Koseff’s. Band joined the Bidvest board in 2003 and is still a director there. He was appointed a Bidcorp director in 2016.
However, as one eagle-eyed activist shareholder pointed out, the similarities between the two entities is best seen in the detail of the annual general meeting notice.
Both made identical changes to the notice in the current year and both made the same mistake in those changes. Both companies have reduced the number of shares they wanted to put under the control of directors from 30 million to 16.75 million and both stated the lower number is 5% of the unissued shares in the company.
Wrong. In both cases it is 5% of the issued shares. A small detail, perhaps, but a little worrying.