This is according to court documents reportedly lodged with the Cape Town Labour Court in which HCI executive chairman and eTV chief executive, Marcel Golding stated that the disciplinary hearing by the company had been launched after months of attempts to get him to relinquish the chair of the board of HCI and to resign as CEO of eTV and holding company, Sabido.
HCI, which has a stake in eTV as well as South African hotel and casino group, [DATA TSH:Tsogo Sun], announced on Wednesday that it had suspended Golding, pending a disciplinary enquiry into certain allegations of gross misconduct by him.
The South African black empowerment investment holding company also stated that the nature of the alleged misconduct by Golding, whilst serious in nature, was unlikely to adversely affect the operations of the company, or materially affect its financial performance.
It was later reported that the allegations of misconduct related to the purchase of 24 million rand worth of shares in Ellies Holdings by Golding, were allegedly without authorisation.
Golding stated in the court documents that Investec, on behalf of Sabido, spent 24 million rand to purchase Ellies shares but that he acted in good faith and at the time believed to be in Sabido’s best interests in purchasing the shares.
“The disciplinary hearing has been launched after months of attempts to get me to relinquish the chair of the board of HCI and resign as CEO of eTV and Sabido as a result of my refusal to permit eTV to be used for political purposes by a trade union that is invested in the group,” he said in the papers.
“I believe that two directors of HCI, John Copelyn and Yunis Shaik are the driving forces behind the attempts to push me out.”
Golding said that he had prepared a draft Mergers and Acquisitions report for the Investment Committee regarding the Ellies purchase, but that it was decided by HCI chief executive officer, John Copelyn, who founded HCI with Golding, financial director, Kevin Govender and himself to hold the issue over to a more appropriate time.
The portion of the draft report pertaining to the Ellies transaction was then omitted from the version presented to the board.
According to Golding, Sabido had earlier contracted with Yunis Shaik Attorneys to perform consultancy services and that Shaik purports to speak on behalf of those close to the central levers of State power – as well as on behalf of trade union, SACTWU.
Golding further indicated that initially, though HCI had control of Sabido and Sabido of eTV, [DATA HCI:HCI] did not attempt to influence eTV but that approximately a year ago, the situation changed.
“The pressure on Sabido and, through it, eTV brought into focus philosophical differences between myself and Copelyn and we were unable to agree how the situation ought to be managed,” Golding said in the court documents.
“I was unwilling to compromise on the issue of independence and integrity of editorial content and Copelyn saw my view as detrimental to HCI’s business interests, particularly because of the attitude of its major shareholder SACTWU.”
Following several incidents of “interference” by Shaik and SACTWU and numerous disagreements between Copelyn and Golding, the latter said that a decision had been made in which Copelyn wrote to Andre Kriek of SACTWU advising him that HCI and Golding had agreed to part ways on mutually agreeable terms.
“The essence of the separation proposals involved creating a consortium which, through an appropriate vehicle – possibly Seardel – would assume control of media assets, which I would run, while HCI would assume control over all non-media assets,” said Golding in the documents.
(WATCH VIDEO: HCI suspends Golding after allegations of gross misconduct)
“In this way potentially destructive difference of opinion over future strategy and personality issues could be avoided. Discussions remained constructive and amicable until SACTWU indicated that it was not interested in any outcome where I would remain on as the CEO of Sabido.”
He added that his understanding of the situation is that SACTWU’s stance is directly related to a desire by SACTWU to exert greater control over news content at eTV, and eNCA, by ensuing that a CEO less independent than him assumes control over Sabido.
According to the statement by HCI on Wednesday, disciplinary proceedings have been instituted and the process is scheduled to proceed on Monday 27 October 2014.