ROB ROSE: Checkmate for spin firm Bell Pottinger
Did the man seeking to buy the Habib Overseas Bank really ‘bribe’ Mcebisi Jonas? Unlikely — but either way, he and Bell Pottinger are now trapped
Kuben Naidoo, the registrar of banks, must have breathed a sigh of relief that he’d vetoed the bid by the Gupta-linked Vardospan to take control of Habib Overseas Bank. This is because e-mails that were leaked last week paint a particularly ugly picture of Habib’s two would-be buyers — tech entrepreneur Hamza Farooqui, and Salim Essa, a business partner of the family residing in the presidency’s Saxonwold HQ. The background is that last August, Farooqui and Essa’s company, Vardospan, submitted a bid to buy the 27-year-old Habib, which has five branches and is based in Jo’burg’s Oriental Plaza, for R327m.