Showdown at the Group Five corral
ROB ROSE: Guerrilla war at Group Five is just beginning
Allan Gray’s intervention at Group Five is a watershed for shareholder activism — even if it faces a backlash at the July 24 meeting
It may look as if there was a bloodless coup at construction company Group Five last week, but don’t be fooled: the guerrilla war is just beginning. In an unprecedented step, Group Five’s entire board, led by Philisiwe Mthethwa, quit last Friday, having reached an impasse with its 25% shareholder, Allan Gray. On the face of it, it seemed a colossal victory for shareholder activism. No institution has ever forced an entire board to walk the plank like this in SA. But with a vote on a new board set for July 24, Mthethwa’s outgoing board has spoken to other shareholders — who’re not all buying Allan Gray’s argument. “It’s not just the Public Investment Corp (PIC) and Mazi Capital who object to what Allan Gray did, there are a lot of other shareholders who do,” Mthethwa told the Financial Mail. “That vote will be groundbreaking; it will show major asset managers like Allan Gray they can’t just bulldoze decisions through.” Or perhaps not. But the showdown will be epic.But the real sticki...