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Cognition Holdings, a niche technology player, endured a long and stormy general meeting on Friday to pass resolutions related to its proposed acquisition of the Private Property online real estate portal for R127m. Cognition will acquire a majority stake in Private Property from printing and publishing group Caxton. Caxton is a 34.9% shareholder in Cognition, and will boost its stake to about 63% after taking scrip to settle the Private Property deal. The meeting got off to a fractious start when significant minority shareholder and media magnate William Kirsh, as well as shareholder activists Chris Logan and Albie Cilliers, took exception at five directors, including CEO Mike Smith and chairman Ashvin Mancha, being absent. They called for an adjournment of the meeting, arguing that the directors’ absence precluded shareholders questioning them around the Private Property deal.

Cognition nonexecutive director Roger Pitt, who served as chairman, explained that Smith and Mancha...

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