Zambeef, the fully integrated cold chain foods and retail business with operations in Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana, on 27th July 2018 announced the appointment of Frank Braeken to its Board as a Non-Executive Director with immediate effect. Now this was no ordinary appointment. According to SENS announcement published on LuSE, “Frank is being appointed as the second representative of CDC Group plc, the Company’s 17.5 per cent ordinary share holder, under the terms of the Relationship Agreement between CDC and the Company, which became effective on 16 September 2016”.
You may recall that earlier in the year, Chairman Jacob Mwanza and CEO Francis Grogan said good bye to Tim Pollock who was the first representative of CDC. Tim had courted Francis and Carl Erwin (ex-dual CEO) long before the CDC deal was struck. According to the Zambeef website, one of Tim’s last notable actions (February 21st announcement) before exiting was the purchase of 50,000 ordinary shares of the company stock which gave him 0.03% of the total voting rights of the Group. It is important to note that “the information contained within this announcement when it was made was deemed by the Company to constitute inside information as stipulated under the Market Abuse Regulations (EU) No. 596/2014. Upon the publication of this same announcement via Regulatory Information Service, this inside information was then considered to be in the public domain”.
Tim’s reign was rather short with the announcement of his appointment being made in November of 2017 only to see him leave in June the following year. One does get the sense that he was a transitional representative. But we do not speculate at financial insight.
Frank is a Belgian national with extensive experience in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (“FMCG”) sector, including 26 years with Unilever where he lived and worked in nine countries on four continents. CDC’s choice is very interesting and exposes what their strategy may look like. With Frank’s vast experience across Africa and FMCG exposure, he is the ultimate talent the board needs in its pursuit to grow ZAMBEEF’s footprint in Africa. Frank currently holds 375,000 ordinary shares in Zambeef Products plc.
Scrutinized further, Frank’s experience in key markets will be vital. Evidence of this experience is found in the announcement where it was stated that “In 2009, Mr. Braeken became head of Unilever’s Namca region, with responsibility for markets across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Africa. In 2011, Mr. Braeken became Head of Unilever Africa where he had overall responsibility for the $3 billion operation”
Without a doubt, CDC have their second man on the board to steer the company in the direction that will create value and increased return on investment. Francis is definitely making adjustments in the direction the company is moving in. We believe there is no time for nostalgia or reminiscing on the ZAMBEEF of old.
We too share in Chairman Jacob’s positive sentiments about the appointment. Jacob stated that he was “thrilled to welcome Frank as a Non Executive Director to the Board. Frank brings significant experience from one of the world’s largest FMCG companies which, together with his extensive recent experience of operating throughout Africa, will be of significant value to the Board and the Company. I very much look forward to working with Frank over the years ahead.”