Grand Parade Investments chairman Hassen Adams. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Grand Parade Investments chairman Hassen Adams. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

The executive chair of empowerment gaming and restaurant group Grand Parade Investments (GPI), Hassen Adams, has reduced his holding in the company he founded by almost 40%.

The disposal followed Adams’s comments to Business Day earlier in 2019 that he was looking to retire later in the year.

Adams, who has presided over one of the oldest listed empowerment ventures on the JSE, has come in for sharp criticism from some institutional minority investors in GPI over the past year, who say they have seen the group lose value under his leadership.

The problems for the group started when its quick-food operations started to flounder, eventually seeing GPI shutting down its Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins chains earlier in 2019.

Its initial roll-out of fast-food chain Burger King also did not go smoothly.

Adams in turn accused the minority shareholders of trying to asset-strip GPI of its lucrative gaming interests, which included an indirect holding in Cape Town-based casino GrandWest.

GPI said in March it had made strides in turning around Burger King and was looking to bring in an outside shareholder once it became profitable.

According to GPI’s 2018 annual report, Adams held 63.8-million shares, amounting to a 13.47% holding in the group. On Monday, he sold 20-million of these shares for R60m, effectively reducing his holdings to about 8.4%.

The disposal has seen Adams become the third-largest shareholder after the Chandos Trust, which is aligned to former banker GT Ferreira, with a holding of 9.94%, and empowerment group, Value Capital Partners (VCP), which has 16.42%.

VCP is best-known for being a turnaround specialist and has holdings in Sun International, Altron, Novus, Adcorp, PPC and African Phoenix.

VCP only took its holding in GPI in December 2018 and was not part of a grouping of minority investors that were critical of the group’s management.