Media out to destroy R2.1bn property group – chairman

Strong words at AGM for Nova, owner of Sharemax-promoted properties.

JOHANNESBURG – The chairman of Nova Property Group, Connie Myburgh says it appears to him that certain sections of the press are doing their best to make things difficult for the group and its directors. Myburgh was speaking at the group’s annual general meeting, held in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The Nova Property Group is the owner of most of the properties that were promoted to investors by failed property syndicator Sharemax. It has property assets worth R2.1bn.  Nova acquired these properties as part of a scheme of arrangement that was sanctioned by the High Court on January 20, 2012.

Myburgh took particular aim at Moneyweb and this journalist who attended the AGM by means of a proxy. He said it is this journalist’s intention to hurt the Nova Group. “We know precisely who Mr Cobbett is working with,” said Myburgh. “The people that are trying very hard, like they did in 2010, to hurt the investors, the group and the company.”

Despite this alleged attack on Nova, Moneyweb can confirm that to date no action has been taken against it or this journalist for any publication relating to Sharemax or Nova, either with the press ombudsman or through the courts.

However complaints have been laid with the press ombudsman against articles published in Business Report.

All resolutions passed

A curious feature of the Nova AGM was that minority shareholders were not asked to vote on the tabled ordinary and special resolutions. Myburgh said he held proxies for the required majority of shareholders. These shareholders had voted in favour of all resolutions and they were thus adopted at the meeting. 

Once the meeting was opened for questions, a shareholder, Willie van Rooyen, asked Myburgh to explain who had voting rights at the meeting. Myburgh replied that this information was contained in circulars that were distributed to investors prior to the scheme of arrangement being adopted. However, he said he did not wish to discuss the matter further, because of this journalist’s presence at the meeting.

Group performing well

Myburgh said that the group performed very well in the past year in spite of constant attacks from certain groups and sections of the press. The group recorded a R150m after-tax profit, driven in large part by a R207m upward adjustment to the fair value of properties.

Update on Zambezi and The Villa

The Zambezi Mall, which previously struggled to attract tenants, has been converted into a Chinese shopping mall. In a recent communication, Nova said that there is no other China mall retail concept in Pretoria and this will differentiate the mall from conventional shopping centres. The mall’s name has been changed to the Tshwane China Shopping Mall.

For the large, unfinished Villa shopping centre, Myburgh told the meeting that the Nova management is busy talking to a few big groups and potential investors with the aim of completing the project. “If you understand the numbers, it is not difficult to make The Villa a big success,” said Myburgh. However, the group has a problem in that it is involved in a legal dispute with The Villa’s developer, Capicol, over ownership. 

How to sell shares

One investor asked how shareholders might sell their shares. Myburgh replied that the group would not facilitate a market for shares itself. However, he said there are financial advisers are investigating the possibility of a market.

An audio recording of the entire AGM can be downloaded here

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