Change of attorneys at heart of WPRFU about-turn
Western Province Rugby Football Union President Zelt Marais may be reluctant to elaborate, but it has emerged that a change of attorneys is at the heart of their sudden about-turn in the aeonian and mutable Newlands redevelopment saga.
Marais, earlier this week, confirmed to @rugby365com that the agreement with property developers Flyt is with their “legal counsel” for review.
“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 it the media, as it effectively amounts to not only a serious breach of contract, but also to a breakdown of trust.”
However, @rugby365com has learnt that not only is WPRFU planning to change ‘partners’ yet again – it would be the third time in less than a year – but they have already changed their ‘legal council’.
After walking away from agreements (which included loans) with Remgro and Investec, WPRFU dropped Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes (the Blouberg-based company that represented them throughout the negotiations and finalisation of the term sheet and loan agreement with Flyt) like a hot potato.
Korbers Inc, a legal firm operating out of Cape Town central, is now acting on behalf of the union and sent a letter to Flyt – claiming the Newlands and Brookside properties were ‘undervalued’ in the agreement and should be valued between ZAR377-million and ZAR390-million, rather than the ZAR112-million of the agreement.
Zane De Decker, Managing Director of Flyt Property Investments, confirmed they had received a letter from WPRFU’s ‘new’ attorneys.
However, he is standing firm on the original deal.
“A binding and enforceable agreement was finalised and approved at a Special General Council meeting of the WPRFU that took place on 8 July 2020,” De Decker told @rugby365com.
“This was the final step in a legally sound and transparent approval process that included all required resolutions.
“Specifically, the deal was considered in detail and approved via vote at separate meetings held by the WPRFU structures of the executive committee, council and its trustees – after receiving independent professional advice.
“This comprehensive approval process was also independently certified by the WPRFU’s own auditors, BDO.”
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The Flyt boss was at pains to stress that WPRFU had approached his company, not the other way round, seeking the loan of ZAR112-million – which was used to pay off two other loans.
“The deal was agreed to in various WPRFU forums by an ‘overwhelming majority’ and the entire process was overseen by the WPRFU’s [then] legal team, its auditors and its professional advisory team,” De Decker told this website.
He added that Flyt has met all its conditions to date, including the payment of the ZAR112-million.
“We’re confident that our legal rights are sound and our legal team is further contemplating the letter received from WPRFU’s latest attorneys.”
* Meanwhile Ronald Bantom returned to the executive leadership of WPRFU.
The Union held a by-election on Monday to select an additional member for a vacancy on the executive committee, left by Kevin Kiewitz – who resigned earlier this year, in protest of the decision to walk away from an agreement with Investec.
Bantom, who was prevented from contesting the vice-presidency position at its 2018 annual general meeting, beat off the challenge of three other candidates – Ralphton Adams, Romeo Adams and Shamila Sulayman.
Insiders say Bantom won the popular club vote against his closest rival, Sulayman – the latter an Ebrahim Rasool ally.
The election may suggest there is a groundswell of discontent in the club ranks.
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