Marc Hasenfuss Editor-at-large
Sudden departure: Tasneem Karriem resigned as CEO of Grand Parade Investments in early April. No reasons were given for her departure. Picture: SUPPLIED
Sudden departure: Tasneem Karriem resigned as CEO of Grand Parade Investments in early April. No reasons were given for her departure. Picture: SUPPLIED

The boardroom at empowerment group Grand Parade Investments (GPI) is looking alarmingly short of executives.

On Friday afternoon, the company, which holds the Burger King master franchise agreement for Southern Africa and gaming assets, announced the resignation of chief financial officer Shaun Barends with effect from the end of June.

Barends is the fourth top executive to depart GPI in the past year.

GPI’s share price finished stronger, though, closing up almost 5% at 236c. But there has been an increasing clamour from shareholders about pushing GPI’s executives for a more concerted effort to unlock value.

The company, which also holds an influential stake in restaurant franchisor Spur Corporation, reported a 693c/share intrinsic net asset value (NAV) at the end of 2017.

A terse statement on Sens noted that Barends, who was appointed to the post only in July 2017, would be exploring other business interests.

GPI said proceedings to appoint a successor were under way and details would be announced in due course.

The resignation of Barends follows hard on the heels of Tasneem Karriem resigning in early April as CEO of GPI with immediate effect. No reasons were given for Karriem’s sudden departure.

She was appointed an executive director of GPI in September 2016, but was only appointed CEO in July 2017.

Karriem succeeded Alan Keet, who endured a few years as CEO before being put in charge of GPI’s food division in March 2016. But Keet was replaced in mid-2017 by GPI stalwart and former financial director Dylan Pienaar, who resigned in November 2017.

The imminent departure of Barends will leave GPI prime mover, major shareholder and long-serving executive Hassen Adams as the only executive director on the board. Adams, the executive chairman of GPI, is already serving as acting CEO.

Anthony Clark, a small-company analyst at Vunani Securities, said the board changes would fuel questions about what was transpiring at GPI, which was trading at a 52% discount to its conservatively stated NAV.

"To lose a CEO is unfortunate. But to lose a chief financial officer so soon after the departure of the CEO is highly irregular."

Clark said shareholders would wonder whether the recent executive departures were linked to efforts to transform GPI and narrow the discount the shares offered on the underlying value in the investment portfolio.

Hasenfussm@businesslive.co.za