By Desie Heita
Operations at Bravio Investment Holdings, a renewable energy company, have come to a virtual halt leaving employees unpaid for three months as shareholders fight for the control of the company.
Left hanging are renewable energy projects destined for the towns of Rehoboth and Otavi, where the company is set to put up solar-powered streetlights. In a dramatic three-month infighting, directors have barred each other from coming near the company’s head offices. Accusations and counter accusations are flying with minority shareholders accusing the majority shareholders of attempting a business coup, through forced liquidation. The majority shareholders have stripped the founding shareholder, Selias Soko, who also served as the company’s chief executive officer, of the post and ordered him to stay away from the employees and not to interfere with company operations.
The Namibian registered Bravio Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd is a pioneer company in renewable energy and has other interests in outdoor advertising, publishing and hygienic instrumentation. The company designs solar-powered streetlights according to the needs of the specific town or settlement, solar traffic controls and rail signals. It has already done a pilot study on solar-powered streetlights at Okahandja. It also owns a magazine, Focal Point, focussed on Southern Africa.
Soko did admit that he is no longer the CEO of the company but said it is normal business practice.
“It was a majority vote by the board of directors. If the board decided, what can one do. The [board of directors’] votes matter most in any organisation,” said Soko.
Newly appointed managers who are said to be without business management experience are managing the business in the absence of a CEO. Both the chairman of the board of directors, Dirk Conradie, and Soko, brushed the infighting aside, saying the current problems at the company are a result of “cashflow problems”.
“It is a matter of funding,” said Conradie, adding that financing institutions, such as the Development Bank of Namibia, have not stepped in to help.
Soko said there is no fight and the problem with salaries will be sorted out by the end of this week.
“The bottom line is the funding, caused by some problems beyond our control. We also received a lot of rain that we never anticipated. This left some of the projects standing,” said Soko. There are four directors in the company with Conradie being the single individual majority shareholder.
It has emerged that the others shareholders feel cheated, as the company has failed to record a healthy cashflow since its inception in 2006. Conradie declined to comment further, saying: “No one wants to force anyone out of the company.” Soko, on his part, said: “It is a mere difference of opinion with regard to company’s business strategy.”
Soko also refuted allegations of mismanagement, saying: “All money generated is in assets and other projects that we have done. The whole idea was to create a [diversified] business that is not seasonal dependant.” Soko said the company should be given time before it turns into a cash cow.
‘I did my part since my appointment as CEO in 2006. Between the period of June and November 2007 alone, I was able to clock [a turnover of] something like N$1,3 million. The assets value grew by more than 1??????’??