BCX's Benjamin Mophatlane dies

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Benjamin Mophatlane passed away following a cardiac arrest yesterday afternoon.
Benjamin Mophatlane passed away following a cardiac arrest yesterday afternoon.

Business Connexion (BCX) CEO Benjamin Mophatlane has passed away at the age of 41 after suffering a heart attack yesterday.

The company honoured the late CEO in a statement this morning: "As CEO, he left an indelible mark on the company, the employees of the group and our clients. Benjamin was instrumental in building BCX into SA's leading IT company and led BCX business activity in the rest of Africa.

"The board and employees of BCX wish to honour Ben for his leadership, vision, integrity and esteemed contribution to the company. We express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to his wife Abena Saah and their three children, his mother, sister, twin brother Isaac and the entire Mophatlane family. Benjamin will be remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit, enthusiasm and exceptionally warm personality, which are aspiring attributes for us all."

BCX chairman Tony Ruiters says the company has lost an irreplaceable brother, colleague, leader, husband and father. "Ben was a leader with a big heart and who considered wisely decisions in all facets of his life. He had impeccable judgement and most of all, was a man of deep integrity and honour. His death is a great tragic loss to the company and the South African business community."

Vanessa Olver, deputy CEO of BCX, has been appointed acting CEO.

Great entrepreneur

Described as one of SA's greatest entrepreneurs, Mophatlane cofounded BCX with his twin brother Isaac in 1996. At the time it was known as Business Connection. Business Connection subsequently merged with Seattle Solutions in 2001.

The late Mophatlane served as MD until the company merged with Comparex Africa in 2004 and was renamed Business Connexion. He then served as deputy CEO until 2007, when he took the helm of BCX.

Well-known within the ICT industry, he received numerous accolades and was a member of the Black Management Forum, the Electronic Industries Federation of SA, the Black Information Technology Forum and the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency.

Telkom connection

Mophatlane reportedly passed away during a meeting between BCX and Telkom yesterday.

The two companies have long been in talks, with Telkom last month putting aR2.67 billion offeron the table to acquire the ICT services business, eight years after it offered to buy BCX in a deal that was quashed by the Competition Tribunal.

Telkom has bid a cash amount of R6.60 a share to buy out BCX, valuing the company at R2.67 billion - a 20% premium on its value when initial cautionary statements were issued on 14 April. BCX's share last closed at R5.96 and Telkom had R1.2 billion in the bank at the end of September.

BCX, which is listed on the JSE, is a "significant player" in the local ICT services market, and has strong capabilities in managed IT infrastructure, including data centres and application development.

Telkom, which has been trading under cautionary for some time, says it intends to strengthen and find growth opportunities for its local operations, as well as support BCX's expansion on the African continent.

BCX says it will make announcements regarding funeral and memorial services in due course.

The Mophatlane family has requested that no flowers be sent, but that donations rather be made to either the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund or the Komati Foundation.

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