Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 12.2

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter twelve, part two.

Having talked through the principles the previous evening, the meeting in Lindy’s conference room – our little suite doesn’t have a room suitable for six people to sit comfortably – got straight down to details. Gabriel explained, in great detail, the business plan he and Evaristo had drawn up together. For his part, Evaristo told us that, although not directly involved in the project, he had come on board as an unofficial advisor.

When asked why his position wasn’t part of the plan, Gabriel said, “although Evaristo’s input, particularly on the difficult topics of fiscal and regulatory compliance, is invaluable, it would not be correct for a politician to be a partner in the co-operative.”

“Does that mean that once the business is up and running, you’ll dispense with him?” Max asked.

“Not at all, Ms Matham. If you look at the appendix to the business plan, you will see that our ultimate aim, if we can meet all the relevant requirements, is to register the co-operative as a charity. In that event, we would seek to ask Evaristo to serve as a Trustee, maybe even Patron. Of course, whether he wishes to join us in that way has to be his decision. We would never assume that his agreement would be automatic.”

“Let me put on record now, Gabriel, that you can safely make that assumption,” Evaristo said.

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Two-nil.”

“I’ve heard people say that a lot recently,” I said, “what does it mean?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Evaristo replied, “It’s the English translation of what the French say.”

“It is? What do they say?”

“They say ‘Deux rien’. Deux means two and rien means nothing or nil, hence two-nil.”

Max, who spoke French like a native; although a native of where is still open to question; laughed.

“What’s funny?” Evaristo asked.

“It’s an easy mistake to make,” she said, still guffawing, “they actually say ‘de rien’, which means ‘of nothing’. I suppose it’s the equivalent of…” she said, looking at me with raised eyebrows.

“Think nothing of it, old chap,” I said cheerfully.

Max continued, “Precisely. And many Americans say ‘ain’t no thang’, which has the same meaning.”

“Oops. I won’t make that mistake again,” Evaristo said, joining in the laughter which, by now, had spread around the table.

I looked at Max, raised my eyebrows and, in my lap, gave a subtle thumbs-up sign. She nodded briefly. “Decision made,” I said, much to everyone’s surprise – everyone except Max, that is, “HanMax Consultants will provide logistical support and management consultancy from Dar-es-Salaam. No charge will be made for this. Should you require us to attend your premises, you will be responsible for our travel and accommodation costs but there will be no further cost, apart from reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses.”

While I was saying that, I noticed that Lindy and Moses were conversing in hushed tones. When they stopped, Lindy said, “Knight Investments will provide start-up funding for the initial amount mentioned in your business plan, at an interest rate of three percentage points below base or one per cent, whichever is greater. This will be available for you to draw in accordance with a schedule to be agreed by my colleague, Moses Malunda, and yourselves. Any additional funding needs will be the subject of further discussion at a later date. In addition, Holy Island Services will provide remote administration and accounting services from this office including, as needed, the training of your own personnel with a view to taking over those functions. My staff will prepare an implementation and cost schedule and send it to you by secure email within seven days.”

Gabriel looked as though he were in shock. He turned to Evaristo and said, “Did I hear that right?”

“Yes, Gabriel. We’re in business. All you have to do is to sign the legal documents and then you can hit the floor running.”

“We were hoping you’d feel that way,” Lindy said, pulling a sheaf of papers from his briefcase, “I find that I have the papers here for the financing agreement.” He pushed them across the table to Gabriel. “Take your time, look them over, and if you’re ready to sign them I’ll be in my office.”

“Thank you, Mr Aldredge,” he said.

Lindy rose from the table, shook Gabriel’s hand and said, “Two-nil!” He nodded to the rest of us, and he and Moses left the meeting room.

“So what happens now?” Evaristo said.

“The jobs that Mr Aldredge and Mr Malunda are doing used to be mine,” Max said, “I say that only to indicate that I know how the system works in detail.”

“In fact,” I added, “Knight Investments and Holy Island Trading were Max’s idea.”

“Yes, I still think of them as my babies,” she said, “Now. Once you sign the Financing Agreement, Knight Investments will place the agreed amount into an account to which you have access. All that will be required is for you to agree a drawing schedule with Mr Malunda, but I don’t imagine that will be an issue, as you have an outline schedule in the appendix to your business plan. Holy Island Services will prepare a contract in, usually, no more than three working days and transmit it to you for signature. Your signature will need to be witnessed by a suitably qualified person. You, Evaristo, are suitably qualified. Hannice and I will draw up a contract in the same time-frame, so you can expect, within a week from today, to be ready to launch your project. How does that sound?”

“That sounds splendid,” Gabriel said, “in a scary kind of way.”

“Scary?” I asked.

“Well, after months of talking and planning, it’s suddenly becoming real. I’m actually going to be able to help these poor people.”

“I’m going to have Knight Global set up secure email and computing facilities for you,” Max said, “not for your business as much as to manage your relationships with us and with them. HanMax Consultants is an independent business but, as you know, Mr Knight and I are former directors of Knight Global Trading and we maintain a close working relationship with them. However, we are not part of that group, neither do we have any financial or business relationship with them beyond renting this office.”

“I did my homework before coming here, Ms Matham, and I know that you were regional director for Africa, then Chief Financial Officer for Knights, and Mr Knight was… well… Mr Knight, Chairman and Chief Executive, both posts now being held by David Knight—”

“My son,” I said, “yes. That’s all public knowledge, but what I want you to take away from here is that any relationship you enter into with HanMax Consultants is not a relationship with Knight Global. Knight companies will provide funding and support services, but any advice we give you is for you alone. And be aware, that if we feel it necessary, we may advise you to sever links with Knight Global entities.”

“Is that likely?”

“Highly unlikely, I should say. The point I’m making is that we work for you, not for Knight Global. We work with them, but not for them.”

“Okay,” Gabriel said, ”let’s get this funding agreement dealt with.” He handed one copy to Evaristo and they both read through them.

“That looks straightforward enough,” he said finally, “what do you think?”

“I’d be happy to sign it,” Evaristo said. Gabriel nodded and signed both copies. Evaristo and I witnessed the signatures. Four of us trouped into Lindy’s office where he and Moses were talking.

“Good time?” I asked.

“Always for you, Boss,” he said.

“Okay, LJ, we have the funding agreements signed.” Gabriel handed the two copies to Lindy. He signed them both then called Max to witness his signatures.

“This calls for a celebratory drink,” I said, “tea all round?”

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