EDINBURGH — Trillian Capital Partners CEO Eric Wood has grabbed the Gupta stake in Trillian from Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa. Wood, the man who boasts he is the best trader in South Africa, is apparently unmoved by explosive allegations in the public domain that his company is a key link in ‘state capture’ deals that are rocking South Africa. Questions have also been raised about the role of Trillian in currency trades based on information that President Jacob Zuma was about to switch finance ministers in the Nenegate scandal that rocked the rand. The Gupta and Zuma families are linked through Zuma’s son Duduzane, who has amassed enormous wealth as a Gupta “employee”. Although Trillian has made claims about valuing corporate governance, Wood and his team have failed to cooperate with an investigation instituted by ANC struggle veteran and businessman Tokyo Sexwale into the role of Trillian in Gupta deals. Sexwale cut loose from Trillian as its chairman in disgust that Wood and colleagues were blocking the truth. Wood’s purchase of Trillian shares may be seen as his vote of confidence in the future of Trillian Capital Partners. But, judging from how things are looking for other Gupta-smeared entities like London PR firm Bell Pottinger, Wood could easily be putting his money on a donkey. Not the greatest trader in South Africa, after all? – Jackie Cameron
By Yolandi Groenewald, Fin24
Johannesburg – Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa has sold all his shares in Trillian Capital Partners. Essa’s Trillian Holdings, which owned 60% of Trillian Capital Partners, disposed of all of its shares on Monday, selling it to Trillian Capital Partners CEO Eric Wood.
The acquisition brings Wood’s share to 85% with the rest of the shares owned by management and staff, Trillian said in a statement. The firm did not disclose how much Essa had shared his sales for.
The heat has been on Trillian in the last six months, with countless reports linking the firm to the controversial Gupta family and alleged State Capture.
Former Trillian Chair Tokyo Sexwale asked Advocate Geoff Budlender to investigate the controversies after a whistleblower’s account that Trillian executives had been aware that Nhlanhla Nene would be axed as finance minister months ahead of time. Also former public protector Thuli Madonsela named Trillian in her State Capture report last year.
Budlender’s report revealed concerning links to corruption at the company, and confirmed that the company was intrinsically linked to the Gupta family. Essa had refused to cooperate with Budlender during the investigation.
When the Budlender report was released last month, Sexwale singled out Essa for many of Trillian’s corruption problems. He said Essa, the majority shareholder of Trillian, has refused to meet him to discuss the allegations.
It has also emerged in the last month that Trillian had received nearly R495m from Eskom despite no contract being signed between the two companies. Trillian also received R96m from Transnet in a transaction that has been red flagged.
Trillian said that the unrelenting media allegations arising from Essa’s holding has had a negative impact on the ability of Trillian Capital Partners and its staff to reach their full potential.
“It is therefore with regret that Essa has taken the decision to divest from the business,” he said.
Trillian said Essa has always maintained his innocence in the face of allegations.
It reiterated the belief that it has a team of excellent staff who are able to deliver on their mandates to the highest standards, and said it hoped they will be given a fair opportunity to do so in the future.
The transaction is part of the company’s strategy to reshape the business and continue to deliver “world class financial advisory and consultancy services”, it concluded.
Who is Trillian CEO Eric Wood?
Trillian Capital Partners has shut down sections of its website to public scrutiny. But this is what it has been saying about Eric Wood: Group Chief Executive Officer:
Lauded as the “greatest trading star in South Africa”, Dr. Eric Wood is well known for his entrepreneurial spirit and excellent execution capabilities. He holds a Master’s in Management – Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation (Cum Laude), from the University of Witwatersrand, and a PhD in Management – Corporate Entrepreneurship, from the University of Johannesburg.
Wood has held various leadership positions, including Head of Fixed Income Derivatives at Frankel Kruger Vinderine where he established a Bond Option operation that grew to become the largest Bond Option broking business (by volume) in the South African market. He was approached by Investec to set up a Fixed Income Trading business, which he developed into the largest market maker of Bond Options and Exotic Fixed Income Derivatives in South Africa. Under Eric’s guidance, the business was expanded into Equity Derivatives Trading, Fixed Income and Equity Structuring as well as Gold and Krugerrand trading. Eric was appointed to the Investec Group Strategy and Policy Committee and he was instrumental in the appointment of Investec as Official Market Makers for South African Government Debt. He was a Chairman of the Primary Dealers Association, and an EXCO member of the Bond Exchange of South Africa. Wood was a co-founding member of Regiments Capital, where he served as Executive Director and Group Chief Operating Officer for 11 years, prior to co-founding Trillian Capital Partners.
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