AMB Capital reduces stake in LonZim as relations worsen

AMB Capital has reduced its stake in investment firm LonZim after realising it might not get enough shareholder support to restructure the board and investment strategy of the AIM-listed company.

AMB said in a shareholder announcement yesterday that it had sold 12,9% of its shares, leaving it with an effective stake of 10,49%. But AMB said it would continue to fight to have LonZim’s corporate governance and investment strategy improved.

AMB has been at loggerheads with LonZim over its investments in Zimbabwe, where it said the company has overpaid for loss- making companies.

It also argued that the company did not have enough independent directors and should not be paying management fees to pan-African investor Lonrho , which has four of its executive directors on the LonZim board.

But LonZim CEO Geoffrey White recently dismissed plans by AMB to change the board as unnecessary and labelled the shareholder a “corporate raider” for wanting to dispose of the company’s assets and return capital to shareholders.

LonZim is invested in the telecommunications, IT, pharmaceutical, aviation and hotel sectors in Zimbabwe.

Such was the hostility between AMB and LonZim that the South African company has called for an extraordinary general meeting on July 30, where it wants shareholders to, among other things, agree to restructuring the board.

AMB has, however, conceded its position might have been weakened after a supporting shareholder, Damille IV, cut its stake from about 6% to less than 3%, which did not entitle it to a board seat.

In addition, AMB said it had realised after a recent meeting with LonZim that even if it was to succeed having its nominees appointed to the board, they would have a tough time working with the existing members, particularly given the differences over its investment strategy.

Yesterday, LonZim said it wanted the shareholder meeting to address AMB’s concerns.