BBS boardroom brawl turns nasty
Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) has moved swiftly to halt the trading of BBS equity securities as the bank management and the board public brawl played out on social media this week.
A wide circulation of a strong worded press statement by BBS MD, Pius Komane Molefe defying the board’s directive to vacate office became the talk of the town, sending shockwaves among shareholders on Wednesday.
The standoff between management and the Board turned into a dramatic fracas when the defiant MD and the company Secretary, Sipho Showa hired heavy security to bar board members from entering the bank.
When The Voice crew went to BSS in Broadhurst to investigate, heavy security and escort blocked the doorway.
“We have been directed not to allow anyone except for staff entry,” the security said as they sent The Voice crew away.
Speaking in an interview from the fourth floor where him and the MD were located at the time, Showa confirmed the presence of backup security.
“Indeed the MD engaged heavy security at the office to bar any of the board members access. We wanted the business of the company to continue without any complications by the board members,” said Showa
Asked why they haven’t complied with the board orders to leave, Showa explained that the resolution to fire the two of them was not only taken for selfish reasons but it was also unlawful and therefore null and void.
“ The MD has notified the board of our decision not to vacate office and the reasons why, so if they have anything against us continuing to work here, the honors is on them, not us to seek legal intervention. Meanwhile we shall continue to act in the best interest of the shareholders and all the banks’ affiliates until the 30th of this month when the Annual General meeting will be held and a way forward is reached,” Showa said
The dispute between Molefe, who sits on the board as the Executive Director, and the rest of the board who are non-executive directors relates to the nomination of candidates for the board, when the current board members tenure comes to an end on April 26th, 2021.
BBS will hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 30th of this month during which the election of board members will form part of the agenda.
The board, Showa explained unlawfully fired the MD after he refused to comply with their demand not to accept new names for possible nomination to the board at the upcoming AGM. The five board members also wanted to extend their tenure by 90 days.
“It was on these bases that the board, led by Pelani Siwawa-Ndai purported to dismiss the MD and the Company Secretary, Sipho Showa from work on Tuesday afternoon.
“Our attorneys advised us that the dismissals are unlawful. The attorneys further advised us to continue reporting to work ,” Molefe has said a statement to the shareholders.
Molefe also expressed regret that these actions have led to the suspension of trading of BBS securities on the stock market, adding he was concerned by potential harmful actions on the business.
The MD appealed to the shareholders to make an objective intervention at the AGM regarding the board elections and make a correct governance decision.
Apart from halting the trading of BBS equity securities listed on the BSE Serala Over The Counter (OTC) board on Wednesday the BSEL Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole also suspended trading of BBS debt securities BBS005 listed on the BSE Corporate Bonds Board.
Tsheole explained the reason for the suspension of trading of BBS securities was to allow BBS which aspires to become the first home-grown commercial bank to provide clarity to the market concerning the recent allegations which have been brought to the attention of the BSE in the squabble relating to the board of directors and senior management.