/ 31 May 2018

Gupta-owned Shiva Uranium’s business rescue practitioners throw in the towel

Business rescue pracitioners Kurt Knoop
Business rescue pracitioners Kurt Knoop

The business rescue practitioners (BRPs) appointed to save Gupta-owned company Shiva Uranium have resigned with immediate effect after their relationship with the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) – the company’s largest creditor – turned sour.

Louis Klopper and Robert Knoop resigned on Thursday ahead of a legal battle between the IDC, the Gupta-owned company and the BRPs.

In a resignation letter seen by News24, Klopper and Knoop said it had become clear that the perfecting of the IDC’s security and its consequences, including the administration thereof, brought about a situation in which the relationship between them and the IDC had become strained.

They added that the relationship had become strained to the extent that their continued involvement as BRPs was objectively no longer in the best interest of Shiva Uranium or the parties affected by its business rescue.

READ MORE: Bizarre battles in Gupta rescue

Both Klopper and Knoop also shared the professional opinion that the company could not be rescued and could never trade itself out of its distress.

“However, as a result of the rescue process to date, there is a potentially beneficial sale and purchase agreement concerning Shiva as a running concern in the process of being negotiated between the IDC and an independent third party,” they said in their resignation letter.

“Under these circumstances, we do not foresee that our further involvement in the business rescue of Shiva will be of any benefit to Shiva, the IDC or any other affected party.

“Therefore, we resign as BRPs of Shiva with immediate effect.”

Klopper and Knoop were appointed by Gupta lieutenants Ronica Ragavan and Ugeshni Govender in mid-February this year, after several of the notorious family’s businesses struggled to meet payment obligations.

Their attorney, Frik van Deventer, told News24 that, while they resigned from Shiva Uranium as BRPs, they would still manage other Gupta companies they had been appointed to save.

With Klopper and Knoop’s resignation, the North Gauteng High Court did not hear an application to have them removed.

Instead an order was granted by Judge Bill Prinsloo that Cloete Murray, a senior BRP, be appointed to substitute Klopper and Knoop and that the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission appoint a second BRP within 48 hours.

Both Klopper and Knoop have been embroiled in a number of legal battles since being appointed as BRPs for a number of Gupta-owned entities.

Earlier this year, they were met with resistance by former directors of the Gupta companies, who told the BRPs that they were no longer welcome on the business premises, News24 previously reported.

This comes after the pair started asking questions about a suspicious transaction involving the sale of shares in Tegeta Exploration and Resources, the holding company for the Optimum and Koornfontein mines.

The two have been finalising business rescue plans for each of the entities placed under business rescue, including the Optimum and Koornfontein mines, when they were kicked out of the Grayston Ridge Office Park offices at the beginning of April.

Klopper and Knoop then turned to the court, filing an urgent application. Judge Denise Fisher handed down judgment in their favour, allowing them to return.  — News 24