Business, Media

Avusa’s Prakash Desai cashes in

By Mandy De Waal 22 September 2011

But is he cashing out? By MANDY DE WAAL.

It was only a matter of hours after the news came that Mvelaphanda’s Mikki Xayiya had officially been appointed as interim non-executive chairman of Avusa, that a SENS announcement revealed that embattled Avusa CEO Prakash Desai was R3,694,752 richer.

Two-and-a-half hours after Xayiya’s appointment was official, SENS indicated that Desai had cashed out 153,948 share-based incentives at a total value of just over R3.69 million.

It is well known that there’s little love lost between Xayiya and Desai because of Avusa’s UHC deal. The Avusa CEO’s relationship with shareholders Mvelaphanda has deteriorated significantly since last year’s very public and bitter spat over the the deal, which Mvelaphanda tried to block.

Desai eventually got his way and the UHC deal went through, which buoyed the media company’s ailing 2011 financials, but it cost the Avusa CEO dearly in the shareholder relationship stakes.

This much was evident on Monday at the company’s AGM which saw aggressive shareholder action, board members leaving and tough questions being asked. Desai was tackled by shareholder activist Theo Botha about whether he deserved his multimillion-rand salary and bonus, while Coronation indicated its dissatisfaction with the management of the UHC integration.

The R3.69 million cash in of Desai’s share based incentives follows days of media speculation about his role as CEO with the press mooting that he’s about to leave. Earlier Avusa-owned Business Day speculated that its CEO was due to meet with Xayiya to discuss his future and indicated that UHC’s founder Colin Cary was a frontrunner to replace Desai.

An assertive Desai penned a memo to Avusa staffers to inform them of the new board changes, but insisted that he was still CEO. No mention was made about the meeting with Xayiya. DM

Read more:

  • Avusa CEO cashes in R3m of share incentives on Business Live;
  • Mikki Xayiya Avusa acting chairman in Business Day;
  • High drama at Avusa amid rumours of Prakash Desai’s departure in Daily Maverick.

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