New legal twist in Newlands saga
REACTION: Western Province appear to be faltering both on and off the field.
On a weekend when the WP Currie Cup team lost 20-22 to a 14-man Blue Bulls team at Newlands – dropping down to third place on the standings – another legal battle started to unfold in the boardroom.
Public utterances by fractious Western Province Professional Rugby Chairman Ebrahim Rasool to do a double take in the agreement for the redevelopment of the Newlands and Brookside properties seems to be more than just empty threats.
According to a report in the Afrikaans weekly newspaper Rapport Western Province Rugby Football Union lawyers sent a letter to Flyt lawyers questioning the validity and legality of their agreement with Flyt.
WPRFU President Zelt Marais, in response to a @rugby365com request for comment, confirmed the matter is with their “legal counsel”.
“The bottom line for WPRFU – as per resolutions passed by the shareholders – is that the deal must not only be equal, but also be fair and equitable,” Marais told this website.
He declined to elaborate, saying “WPRFU is of the view that it is not ethical to discuss matters of a confidential nature in the media as it effectively amounts to not only a serious breach of contract, but also to a breakdown of trust.”
This follows Rasool’s claims – made in a media briefing and repeated in a webinar – that the Flyt deal is not set in stone.
Rasool, in a webinar with the United Coalition for Sport and Community Based Organizations, was adamant that the Flyt deal will be taken back to the lawyers.
“We will have our lawyers examine the Flyt proposal, regarding Newlands or other properties,” Rasool told the webinar.
“Again, [we will] subject it to due diligence.
“If it flies, it flies. If it doesn’t, we will look for a better deal from them or alternatives to them.
“That is the only way we can go forward.”
According to the weekend report WPRFU claim the properties were ‘undervalued’ in the agreement and should be valued between ZAR377-million and ZAR390-million – rather than the ZAR112-million of the agreement.
The report also claims WPRFU says Flyt breached conditions of the agreement because the ZAR112-million was not paid over by Flyt – even though a WPRFU statement at the time of the deal claimed the loan was through the subsidiary DreamWorld.
However, Zane De Decker, Managing Director of Flyt Property Investments, was adamant there is no turning back.
He told @rugby365com last month that the development companies, to oversee the redevelopment of Newlands and Brookside, have already been formed.
De Decker added that bonds have also been raised on Newlands and Brookside to secure the ZAR112-million loan to WPRFU through a subsidiary Flyt company called DreamWorld Investments.
He added that, despite Rasool’s claims, due diligence was done before the agreement was signed.
Asked if there is a way for WPRFU to walk away from the deal, his answer was a blunt ‘no’.
“The deal has been concluded and there are no further conditions to be met,” the Flyt owner said.
Rapport posted two screengrabs – ostensibly from the lawyers’ letters – that suggest WPRFU is serious about backing out of yet another deal – after taking a loan to pay of previous debt.
This year alone WPRFU had walked away from agreements with Remgro and Investec.
The ZAR112-million DreamWorld/Flyt loan was used to pay off the debts owned to Remgro and Investec.
If WPRFU persists with the threat to back out of the redevelopment deal, Flyt has every right to call up the bonds raised as security on Newlands and Brookside and sell those properties on auction to recoup their money.
This comes at a time and WPRFU and the American consortium MVM holdings are also at a standstill in their negotiations over an equity deal and a controlling share of the Rasool-run WPPR.
* Meanwhile WPRFU will hold elections on Monday to choose an additional member to serve on the executive committee.
The position became vacant in June when Kevin Kiewitz walked away from the union in protest over their handling of negotiations with Investec.
There are four nominees – Ralphton Adams, Romeo Adams, Ronald Bantom and Shamila Sulayman.
Insiders say Bantom (a club favourite) and Sulayman (a Rasool ally) are the frontrunners.
Also worth reading …
‘Miscommunication’ blamed for statement
Mystery of the missing sentence
WPRFU: Update on The American deal
Flyt stands firm in face of Rasool claims
WPRFU don’t want just ‘warm words and promises’
More ‘women and black people’ for WPRFU
Another WPRFU deal gone south?
‘The Titanic has hit an iceberg’