Avusa chair, directors quit, CEO could follow

The AGM of media group Avusa was marked by the surprise resignation of its chairperson, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, on Monday.

Business Day reported on Tuesday that Avusa’s chief executive Prakash Desai would also resign as shareholders showed frustration at the company’s apparent deteriorating financial position.

Two non-executive independent directors, Tom Wixley and Babalwa Ngonyama also resigned.

Though Ntsebeza refrained from commenting on his exit, Wixley said shareholders had interfered with board responsibilities.

“It is their company, I acknowledge that. But once a board has been put in place it must be allowed to run the company,” he said.

At the AGM, held in Johannesburg, Ntsebeza said the bid for Avusa, led by private-equity firm Capitau, did not go through as the deal had been impeded by tax-related regulations.

The consortium was unable to provide the group’s independent sub-committee with a clear process, nor defined time frame, for obtaining the required South African Revenue Service and national treasury approvals for the deductibility of the interest relating to the funding of the proposed transaction.

The media company received an unsolicited expression of interest in March to acquire its entire issued share capital.

Staff at the Sunday Times, the Times, Daily Dispatch, the Sowetan, Sunday World and the Herald have also been told to cut costs by about 20%

At market close on Monday, Avusa’s shares were at R23.51 down 2.04% from its previous close. — Additional reporting by I-Net Bridge

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