Harare Bureau
BLUE Ribbon Industries (BRI) chief executive Mike Manga has refuted claims by workers that he played a part in attempts to derail a $40 million investment in the milling company.

The CEO is part of a management consortium, Orchadrian Enterprises, which owned a 74 percent stake in BRI, but lost its interest upon acquisition by the Bakhresa Group.

Manga dismissed claims by workers representative that he was part of a scheme that sought to block investor, Bakhresa, from appointing a foreign chief executive.

The arrival of Bakhresa’s foreign CEO would mean Manga would have to be moved from his current position. The CEO said he has not tried to derail this process.

Blue Ribbon was briefly shutdown and workers were sent on leave or intermittent shifts as the milling group struggled due to financial limitations in an illiquid economy.

Failure to secure the investment from Bakhresa would deprive the company funding to extinguish its $30 million liabilities and over $10 million fresh capital injection.

The Tanzanian miller had approached the Immigration Department for a permit for its foreign CEO to take over the reins at Blue Ribbon after sealing the deal to acquire the firm.

Sources privy to developments said that what Bakhresa is doing, before investing to revive the frail milling firm, was a global practice by investors.

But this move met stiff resistance from pressure group, Affirmative Action Group, which argued that appointing a foreign CEO at the firm was improper and unfortunate.

AAG, who argued that there was a lot of local human capital to drive the company, said no firm in the milling industry has ever been headed by a foreigner since 1980.

Manga this week vehemently denied working with AAG in attempting to scuttle the appointment of a CEO to the helm of a company in which he is former shareholder.

He said the investor and their representative should be issued with a work permit to manage the business, adding this was a matter immigration authorities are seized with.

“As professionals, we have carried out our fiduciary duty diligently to see to it that the business concern status is sustained. It’s not about self interest,” Manga said.

Blue Ribbon judicial manager Reggie Saruchera confirmed this week that the investor had been issued with the requisite work permit to be able to install its foreign CEO.

The Blue Ribbon chief added, “For the record, it must be made clear that from the beginning as shareholder and director of BRI Manga was at the forefront in advocating to voluntarily move to have the company placed under judicial management.

“This was motivated by the desire to protect the interests of creditors, employees and all other relevant stakeholders.

“As shareholders and management we have been at the core of attracting an investor into BRI in order to recapitalise the business and as a result we passed all the necessary resolutions to ensure Bakhresa comes on board.

“In view of this, it is senseless that we can be accused of putting spanner in the works to deny the new shareholder representative a permit,” he said.

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