Mtsambiwa forced into early retirement as Hippo undergoes difficult times

HARARE- A cane grower and miller which grew to become one of the most priced and adored companies on the ZSE.

In the lowveld area of Chiredzi, the company’s reputation is that of a top employer through its Mkwasine, Hippo Valley and the Triangle Estates. At the peak of the 2017/18 season Tongaat’s Zim operations employed 17500 workers of which 9900 were full time.

Hippo Valley Estates’ fortunes however hangs in the balance after anomalies were identified in parent company Tongaat Hulett’s earnings dating to a period of almost 5 years.

Under pressure, the ZSE listed company has announced the early retirement of Sydney Mtsambiwa who has been with the group for almost 30 years , 20 of which he spend at the helm of the company.

His early retirement follows the suspension of the company from trading on the ZSE, a fortnight ago after the delay in results release for the period ending March 2019, by the embattled company.

The results should have been released over the 3 months period to June as per ZSE listing rules but Hippo failed to comply.

Similar fate at parent Tongaat also resulted in the suspension of trading on the JSE main board. The group CEO as well as other key executives have also been forced out of their positions following the revelations. Mtsambiwa temporarily headed Tongaat after CE Peter Staude was “retired” in 2018, amid emerging revelations of malpractice.

Tongaat and its subsidiary companies will have a firm and reliable position on its financial results dating as back as 2015, at the end of October 2019,in terms of the magnitude of manipulation, thus making the released earnings less reliable.

In a statement on Tuesday, Hippo Valley said Mr Sydney Mtsambiwa has resigned to go on early retirement after serving the company for 29 years. Mtsambiwa who leaves the company at the lowest ebb in its 54 years as a publicly traded company, hold several other directorship posts in listed companies including the board of FCB.

Tongaat’s sugar operations in Zimbabwe consist of Triangle and a 50,3 percent stake in Hippo Valley Estates, representing a combined installed sugar milling capacity of more than 640 000 tons.

 At the beginning of the 2017/18 season, the Zimbabwe operations were supplied by 45 245 hectares of sugarcane land (own-estates and private farmers) with a potential to produce more than four million tons of sugarcane.

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Respect Gwenzi

Respect is the Lead Analyst and Managing Director at Equity Axis. He has 8 years experience in respective fields of finance and media. Particular areas of expertise include Asset Management, Stockbroking and Financial Media. Respect is on a mission to change the course of Financial Media in Africa through digitalization

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