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Sponsors walk out on WPRFU

NEWS: The truculent and fractious Westerns Province Rugby Football Union boardroom saga has taken another dramatic turn.


It has been confirmed that the representatives of the WPRFU’s two main sponsors – DHL and BrightRock – have resigned as directors of the board of Western Province Professional Rugby (Pty) Ltd.

WPRFU confirmed that President Zelt Marais and Chairman of the Board of Directors Ebrahim Rasool will hold a virtual media conference on Wednesday to address the resignation of the two sponsorship directors.

@rugby365com has learnt that Hennie Heymans (DHL) and Suzanne Stevens (BrightRock) are the two who handed in their resignations this week.

They are the fourth and fifth members of the board of the professional arm, WPPR, to have departed under a cloud since June.

The boardroom battles started much earlier, but really escalated in June – when Kevin Kiewitz walked away from the union in protest over their handling of negotiations with Investec.

That followed when two independent directors of the board, Johan van der Merwe and Andre van der Veen, were told in August their services were no longer required. Their terms of office came to an end and at the board AGM, it was decided not to extend their terms.


Van der Merwe was replaced as Chairman of the board of WPPR (Pty) Ltd by political firebrand Ebrahim Rasool.

In September Raymond van Niekerk handed in his resignation, ostensibly because he has had enough of the boardroom politics. He indicated that the unwillingness of WPRFU too offer Van der Merwe and Van der Veen new terms was key to the decision.

And this week Heymans and Stevens handed in their resignations.

The boardroom drama had a number of sub-plots.


There was the decision to walk away from negotiations with Investec – resulting in the need to repay ZAR112-million in loans to Remgro and Investec – signing a Newlands development deal with the Flyt group and getting a new loan from Dream World, while starting negotiations with an American consortium, MVM Holdings, as a possible equity partner.

It has since been suggested that WPRFU are also about to walk away from the Flyt deal, although Marais has not yet responded to any requests for comment on the reports.

It also appears the negotiations with the American consortium, headed by South African-born-and-bred American lawyer Marco V Masotti, have stalled.

It is reported that the resignations of the sponsors are directly linked to the unwillingness of WPRFU to speedily conclude the negotiations with Masotti’s consortium.

@rugby365com has reliably learnt that Rasool, the new Chairman of the board of WP Professional Rugby (Pty) Ltd, is working on alternative options.

It is believed Rasool, as head of the professional arm of the WPRFU, is courting his connections in the trade union Nehawu.

These questions will, hopefully, be addressed at Wednesday’s media briefing.


Also worth reading …

Another WPRFU deal gone south?
Nothing ‘clandestine’ about Masotti meetings
WPRFU wants ‘market-related returns’
Zelt wants ‘exceptional people’
WP boardroom campaign of misinformation
‘The Titanic has hit an iceberg’
The ‘smarts and savvy’ that WPRFU needs?

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