Knight & Deigh started life as a retelling of The Orphans, from the point of view of the second lead character, Hannice Knight. It, too, is partly set in the rural Tanzania I remember from the early 1980s, but some of the technologies used are much more recent. To that extent, it is anachronistic. Don’t forget, though; it is fictional, made up, lies. All of it.
Hannice Knight had run the African operation of his father’s global business for many years, when a freak accident at home left him unable to walk. Together with physiotherapist Sophie Deigh, he tries to bring into his life the excitement and adventure he missed in his formative years, due to the need to be tied to the business.
A number of adventures and activities follow including scuba-diving, sky-diving, power-boating and camping, and a half-brother he never knew about; but even these can’t lift Hannice’s spirits.
What, or who can? Will the developing closeness between Hannice and Sophie come to anything, and what of the rumoured advances in medical technology?
Beginning on 12 February 2017, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one scene each Sunday.
The full list of scenes so far published is here
Knight & Deigh. Chapter Four, scene one: Restructuring.
Max called back at lunchtime the following day. I told her I was happy with the way things were progressing, and that I was trying to map out a future, though I didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do with my life. I did know, though, that I needed Sophie to be a part of it, if only to continue the physio.
“Hannice,” she said, “the books for your African company don’t tie in with its description as a trading company.”
“Not with you,” I replied.
“Your licence to operate in Tanzania,” she explained, “describes the business as a trading company, its activities being buying and selling, with import and export. There is no evidence of any of those activities for the past six months, and none at a significant level for more than three years. What there is evidence of, is growth of a shrewdly managed and profitable investment portfolio. If a zealous official goes through your annual returns, there’s a risk he or she could cause trouble.”
“No worries,” I replied, confidently, “plenty of contacts; good chums that wouldn’t let a chap down.”
“As long as you are here and nurturing those relationships, and as long as none of your contacts is replaced,” she advised.
“Point taken. Your suggestion?”
“I suggest you form another Tanzania domiciled company. I don’t know, something like Knight Investments (Tanzania), perhaps,” she said. “Whether that is directly owned by London or Dar is probably irrelevant, though Dar ownership would seal its credentials as a Tanzanian company, and may make access to certain parts of the investment market more straightforward than for a foreign-owned outfit. If you agree, send me all the relevant information and authorisation, and I’ll start the ball rolling here.”
“Sounds like you want me to remain corporate with Knight,” I complained, “Still; sound suggestion. Leave it with me.”
After a brief pause, I said hesitantly, “Listen. The old man is becoming very weak, and the medics don’t think he’ll hold out much longer. That means I shall have to take up the reins as chairman pretty soon. Not a problem, I can do it from here, but I’ll not be here for long. I expect to move to the big house within a couple of months. I don’t want to run the business, though. At least, I don’t think that’s what I want to do.”
“Sophie told me you were juggling a few ideas.”
“Quite. Could go any way at the moment. Meantime, bit of a proposition for you. How would you feel if I suggested appointing you CEO of Knight Global Trading, when the time comes? I would stay on as Chairman, of course, and you would report to me.”
“Wow, Hannice! That’s a great compliment, of course, but I need time to consider your offer. I mean; accountant to CEO, when you hardly know me?”
“Suggestion, Max,” I interrupted, “I’m not in a position to make it an offer yet. And I do know you. I’ve known you pretty much all my adult life.”
“Yeah – semantics,” she replied. “Either way, I might think about it, if you tell me that you will stay Chairman and CEO and offer, or rather suggest, that I act as COO or CFO.”
“Let’s talk about this later,” I suggested.
“Yes, let’s,” she agreed. “Now, with your investment hat on, what are your thoughts about KIT investing in JPT?”
“Knight Investments (Tanzania). Keep up!”
“What’s the status on the informed consent question?”
Max brought me up to speed on the current state of things. “I don’t think Paul is a bad guy,” she concluded, “neither do I think his methods are evil, as I did originally. His position is awkward, and I think some of his decisions might not have been the best, but they weren’t the worst, either.”
“What changed your mind?” I asked.
“Della’s attitude when I told her what’s going on there. She thought she was saving money on the running of her father’s orphanage. She’s keen to get out of that, but can’t. Through TanzCap, she’s indirectly funding it even more, and helping to fund a number of other orphanages at the same time,” she said. “To describe her as angry or upset would be akin to describing a hurricane as ‘a bit blowy’.”
“Tell you what I’ll do,” I said, after a pause for thought, “If Paul can come up with a credible supervisory régime, I’ll consider making a majority shareholding in JPT KIT’s first investment. That means not until KIT is formed and operational, and with a certain Max Matham at its helm.”
“We both have some thinking to do,” she said, “we’ll talk later in the week.”
This was a good development. If Max accepted the job of CEO of KIT, it should be easier to persuade her to take on Knight Trading’s Dar business and the African region, too.
I was starting to work on my strategy to move day-to-day control of the group away from my desk. The group has a very effective COO, but Papa had always held on to the CEO position, and with it, the Finance portfolio. My thinking was to offload the Finance function to Max, offering her Group CFO, and keep her in Dar by offering her Regional Director for Africa, too.