Offering a board position in a real estate company to a Swiss-American brokering a controversial defence deal may sound a bit stretched. But that’s how it was for Guido Ralph Haschke, believed to have played a role in selling Italian group Finmeccanica’s helicopters to India.
On September 25 2009, Haschke was appointed to the board of Emaar MGF, a joint venture between MGF and Dubai-based Emaar Properties, as an independent, non-executive director. He held the post till December 7, 2009. In Emaar MGF’s draft red herring prospectus for a proposed initial public offering (IPO) dated September 29 2009, Haschke’s designation is stated to be “business consultant”. On his term as board member, the prospectus said he was “liable to retire by rotation”.
On why the real estate company had appointed Haschke as board member and that, too, for such a short period, an Emaar MGF spokesperson told Business Standard, “Due to the statutory requirement of having an independent director on the board in order to file for an IPO, his name was recommended to us due to his experience with the international financial sector.”
“As the IPO eventually fell through, he did not continue on the board,” he added.
In September 2009, apart from Haschke, there were five other independent and non-executive directors on the Emaar MGF board. Also, there were four non-independent, non-executive board members and two non-independent, executive members, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
Haschke did not attend any board meeting during his stint at Emaar MGF, the Emaar MGF spokesperson said. The company has clarified it wasn’t associated with any of Haschke’s businesses, past or present.
In the past few years, Emaar MGF had filed the red herring prospectus thrice. However, it failed to launch an IPO for various reasons, primarily the global economic slowdown.
Even as the company stated its version of the story on why Haschke left the board so soon, the circumstances under which he was appointed for such a short period are shrouded in mystery. According to a source, Haschke might have been appointed to the real estate company’s board for his acumen in cutting deals.
Emaar MGF was incorporated on February 18, 2005. As of August 31, 2010, it had completed only one project, according to a draft red herring prospectus filed in September 2010.