• Grindrod Bank on Thursday published an un-redacted version of its annual financial statements, revealing its payments to directors.
  • The bank had tried – but failed – to keep the numbers out of its mandator disclosures.
  • The bank's CEO said it was "maybe a little bit naive", it was unnecessary to redact the numbers in its public documents and that it won't happen again.
  • The 39% increase in executive pay the hidden numbers revealed should be seen in context, he said.

Grindrod Bank on Thursday published an updated version of its annual financial statements to un-redact the page dealing with payments to its executive and non-executive directors.

As Business Insider SA reported on Wednesday, the redaction hid a 39% total increase in the payments made to and for the benefit of its three executive directors.

Payments to CEO David Polkinghorne, including retirement provisions, increased from R7.7 million the year before to R10.5 million in 2017.

Total payments to executive directors for "managerial services" increased just under 45% to R23.6 million.

Polkinghorne said the company had "maybe a little bit naive" to redact the numbers in the first place.

"From our perspective it is one of those things we've never been forced to do, and it is a competitive market," he said, citing the ability of much bigger banks to poach staff from Grindrod if those competitors know how much they are paid.

It had now made that information available because "it is not something that we needed to fight or try and not disclose".

The company published the details up to its 2015 financial year, but started withholding them from its public documents for the 2016 year, instead offering those details on request.

It is not clear how that arrangement prevented competitors from accessing the information.

Pushed on the reason behind hiding the figures Polkinghorne said that it was "absolutely not necessary we should have done it", and that Grindrod Bank would not use such redaction in future.

Polkinghorne said the big jump in executive remuneration should be seen in context, with bonuses and incentives playing a big role.

"To the extent that there are share options that vest, that can trigger a disproportionate number."

Asked if Grindrod could withhold its pay numbers, the JSE said that as a debt issuer it is required to publish annual financial statements just like listed companies.

"Annual financial statements must be in compliance with IFRS [International Financial Reporting Standards] and the Companies Act and the complete set of statements must be available to investors. The JSE has engaged the company on this matter and the complete set of financial statements is now available on the company website,” said Andre Visser, general manager for issuer regulation at the JSE.

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