Jeff Molobela. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Jeff Molobela. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Struggling property group SA Corporate Real Estate’s board is on the hunt for a new chair after Jeff Molobela was removed by a majority of the company’s board.

The company, whose largest shareholders include the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), Prudential, Stanlib and Allan Gray, has struggled to deliver dividend growth in a weak economic environment and fund managers have said its diversified investment strategy has disappointed recently.

A special meeting was held this week in which it was decided that a new chair needed to be appointed in the interests of shareholders. SA Corporate’s share price has fallen nearly 20% this year. It was at R2.69 a share at 4.30pm on Friday. 

At the company’s AGM in May, only 55% of eligible votes were in favour of Molobela retaining his position as chair.

The board change comes a few weeks after the sudden resignations of MD Rory Mackey and financial director Antoinette Basson. The announcements were made on May 22 without any reasons given.

Molobela said at the time that shareholders had made allegations of mismanagement against Mackey and Basson and that senior counsel JJ Reyneke had been appointed to investigate. 

Basson said in May, following her resignation, that she was committed to her notice period and has declined to comment on any allegations against her.  Mackey said on Friday that he had “always acted in the best interests of the company” and was committed to doing so for the remainder of his notice period. 

SA Corporate announced on Sens on Friday that Emily Mauristene Hendricks, a director of the company, would be its new interim chair. “The company is initiating a process to appoint a new chair of the board, and shareholders will be advised of further developments in this regard, at the appropriate time,” the announcement said.

Molobela will  remain as an independent non-executive director on the board. Contacted for comment, Molobela said he will  continue to serve SA Corporate in the role he had been assigned. 

In March, SA Corporate reported a 6% decline in dividend to 42.22c for the year to December 2018 because of negative rental reversions in its portfolio. Other listed property companies have also battled to grow dividends in line with or better than consumer price inflation.

The company has been trying to sell a large portion of its under-performing office portfolio.