Braam van Huyssteen, the founder and chairman of Tekkie Town, has resigned from his role as chairman of Steinhoff Africa Retail’s (Star) Property division with immediate effect.
He will remain the chairman of the Speciality Fashion and Footwear division under which the business he founded and sold to Steinhoff still remains. But his resignation means he will no longer be a member of Star’s executive committee.
When contacted for comment, Van Huyssteen indicated he had initiated litigation against Star CEO, Leon Lourens, believing that Star had breached his employment contract and then failed to remedy it. He resigned with immediate effect on Thursday afternoon and will now be seeking damages that could run into tens of millions of rands against the company.
Van Huyssteen said, “It’s been incredibly disappointing. I have spent my life building this company and looking after my team. We have always said we work for the company, the company does not work for us. I had committed to do the same for Steinhoff and Star but people who care more about their own financial position and who gladly accept mediocre outcomes have made it untenable for me to do what I have always done, day-in, and day-out.”
Van Huyssteen raised a number of issues that may shed more light on why he is attempting to have the acquisition of Tekkie Town by Steinhoff cancelled and reversed. “I question whether all the senior members of the board have an understanding of what their fiduciary duties are, and whether the quality of the due processes they implement during contractual and employment disputes is of a high enough standard. I also question whether they have adequately disclosed all material information to the market. I think we need to closely examine the standard of corporate governance in the company and specifically the integrity of some of the senior executives. They have made my position totally untenable, hence my resignation.”
Moneyweb reached out to Star yesterday evening and they indicated they will take a decision whether or not to respond on Friday evening.
Who is Braam van Huyssteen?
Van Huyssteen founded Tekkie Town in 1989 before choosing to sell, along with a small consortium of other investors in the business, to Steinhoff in August 2016 for R3.2 billion. Five of the six shareholders comprising the consortium elected to receive shares in Steinhoff as payment for their interest. They also agreed to ‘lock-up’ periods of up to three years before they are allowed to sell the shares they had received.
Tekkie Town was then acquired by Star last year ahead of the Steinhoff subsidiaries’ listing on the JSE in September.
Van Huyssteen and a group of other Tekkie Town executives agreed to stay on post the acquisition by Steinhoff, and he joined Star as Chairman of its Property division and of its Speciality Fashion and Footwear division.
He was voted SA Entrepreneur of the Year, 2011.