Category: Knight after Knight

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 6.1

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 six, part one.

That all worked out rather well. Max retired and was replaced as CFO by Caspar Jakobsson, her long-time head of Finance. Henk retired, too. His post was taken by Felix Holst, who was appointed the head of logistics after Stephen Parker’s departure. Another thing I was happy to hear is that Alexandra Duncan, for years head of marketing and PR, was appointed Sales and Marketing Director.

Sophie and I moved into the rooms that had been occupied by David and Jess all those years ago. I had wanted us to use Sophie’s parents’ flat, they both having passed away a few years previously – Martha only carried on for eight months after losing Eddie – but Sophie wasn’t having any of it. She took their loss incredibly hard and, in fact, I would question whether she had truly dealt with it. David and Jess had some remodelling done in the main house before selling their own home and moving in.

We started spending more time in our villa in Cyprus. It was far away from Knight Towers and much easier for Sophie to deal with. Or so I had thought. Despite my best efforts, she became moodier as time went by. It was the mood swings that I had the most trouble with – at one moment she could be bright and sunny, radiating joy and light, the next quietly sombre, the next angry and spiteful. Yet, through all that, I couldn’t not love her; as a mother loves her child even during its tantrums, I still loved Sophie even through her darkest periods, periods when, had she the courage, it seemed to me she may well have chosen to end her very existence.

The hardest part for me was when she railed at me, accusing me of neither understanding how she felt or even caring. She couldn’t have been farther from the truth, but there was no way I could get through to her. Finally, after months of cajoling, she finally agreed to talk to a professional, someone who understood what she was going through and was able to help her to deal with it, to come to terms with the loss of her parents.

There was no-one on the island she was happy to talk to. She spoke to Jess and asked her to recommend a counsellor. The sessions took place in our rooms in Knight Towers and went on for some time. After the first couple of months, she seemed to me to be improving. The counsellor had helped her to discover that at the root of her problems were a raft of unresolved issues – she had never really dealt with losing Dave, her first husband, and had even papered over some of the problems she carried forward from her peri-menopause. Under the surface, it seemed, there were resentments boiling away, some of them even against me! Working on the basis that ‘if you can name it, you can tame it’, I was hoping that this represented the first steps towards making her better – for her sake, not for mine. She was doing so well that, after about five months’ therapy, she felt able to come back to Cyprus again. This time, at her suggestion, we invited Max to come to stay with us for a while. I have to confess, that I was more than happy with that idea. I remembered how well Sophie and Max got on, and I was hoping that the presence of her old friend would help her with her recovery.

That went reasonably well, until a call came through from David, saying there was a financial issue that needed resolving at Board level. My reaction was simply for him and the Board to deal with it, but it seems it needed a forensic accountant to unravel it and Caspar wanted to call on Max’s offer of consultancy. David felt I should be there in my capacity as Chairman.

“Bloody typical!” Sophie said when I told her about it, “As soon as I need you, the damned company whistles and you go running.”

“I’m going nowhere,” I said, “they can teleconference me in. I’m not flying across Europe for an hour’s meeting.”

“You might as well go. You know you really want to. I should have known it wasn’t for my benefit that you brought your girlfriend here.”

“WHAT?” Max and I shouted in unison.

“You heard. I’m on to your little game. You think I’m blind? You two have been carrying on behind my back for years. Oh, I know about the cosy Skype sessions while she was in Africa. You thought I didn’t, but I did, Mister. Go on. Bugger off back to your precious office.”

“I think I ought to go,” Max said.

“That’s right, go,” Sophie yelled, her face approaching the shade of a ripe aubergine, “I notice you’re not denying anything. And to think I thought you were my friend, an ally. How could I have been so stupid?”

“I am a friend, Sophie. I have been since you worked with me in the cottage.”

“I know what that was about, too. You just wanted to lull me into a false sense of security so you could be with him.”

“I don’t want to argue with you,” Max replied, “but think on this. You weren’t aware of Hannice’s existence until I told you I’d be staying with him whilst I was in Dar-es-Salaam doing that job for Della Jont. You didn’t meet him until after his accident. You didn’t enter into a relationship with him until well after you stopped working for me. How can you possibly think I was plotting against you before you’d even heard his name? And if I wanted to be with him, why would I have let you become attached to him?”

“That’s right. Do your usual.”

“What usual?”

“You’re a clever woman, Max. I’ve always known that. Clever and devious. I’m not. Clever that is. Or devious. I don’t know how you did what you did, but it’s obvious why. Get out of my house. And don’t come back.”

I looked at Max and nodded.

“I’ll book into a hotel until I can get a flight,” she said, “I’m sorry you feel this way, Sophie, but know this. I have admired and respected you for as long as I’ve known you, and I wouldn’t do anything, ever, to hurt you. I’m going now, and you won’t see me again unless you want to. But please, Sophie, get some help. You’re not yourself. I’ll see myself out, Hannice.”

Half an hour later, a taxi pulled up at the door, Max got in and left us.

“She’s gone,” I said, “do you want to go back home and restart your sessions?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “I have a headache. I’m going back to bed. Alone.”

“I’ll come and look in on you in a while, to make sure you’re okay.”

“Don’t bother!”

“Sophie, love. You’re not well. Whether you want me to or not, I’m going to pop in and check on you. You don’t have to speak or even acknowledge me, but if you think I’m about to give up on you, then you don’t know me anything like as well as you think you do.”

She stormed out of the room and up the stairs to our bedroom, shouting behind her as she went, “You can sleep on the bloody sofa.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 5.4

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 five, part four.

Things ticked over swimmingly for the next few years. The business continued its slow but steady growth. David gradually took on more of my duties, especially those involving overseas visits. Jess’s pregnancy still hadn’t happened and so she was available to accompany her husband on his trips. For her part, she took an increasing interest in the quasi-philanthropic activities of the investment arm of the business. I have to admit, Max encouraged her in that, mostly because she was becoming less enamoured with the inside of aircraft as the years went by. Knight Global Investments was her baby and that she allowed, even encouraged Jess to take a greater interest in it and to become directly involved in its future spoke much of the respect and esteem in which she held my daughter-in-law.

I sat down with her in my office one afternoon for tea and a chat.

“Max, we’re both just a few months short of seventy. Do you think it’s time we made some decisions?”

“Are you sure we haven’t already made them?”

“Perhaps. I’m about ready to step aside and let my boy take over this seat. Well, he and Jess, of course.”

“I know how you feel, Boss, but what will you do?”

“I’ll stay on as Chairman for as long as the business needs me to, but Sophie and I want to spend more time on Cyprus. You know, relaxing, sightseeing—”

“Doing old people’s stuff, you mean?”

“Old? Me? Not going to happen.”

“You may be too late, Hannice. We are old. Both of us.”

“You’re right, of course. How about you?”

“I think Lindy is ready to take on the regional director’s job. No point in delaying it any more.”

“Henk feels the same about Tanja.”

“And he’s older than us. I know he’s ready to retire.”

“Okay, Max. Let’s set about putting a resolution in front of the Board. Hmmph. That’ll only leave Emily from the group we’ve been working with all these years.”

“She’s turned sixty-five now, too.”

“Let’s see what she has to say at the meeting. Her deputy; name escapes me at the moment; is probably ready for a leg-up.”

We set the meeting up. Around the table were Emily Russell (HR Director), Owen Nicholls (Company Secretary), Max, Henk, David, Jess and myself. Oh, and Sophie in her position of non-voting director. With the exception of David and Jess, and possibly Sophie, it was like a residents’ meeting in an old folks’ home. Danny, Geoff, Scott and Carolina joined over the teleconference network.

After the Company Secretary’s reading and adoption of the minutes of the last Board meeting, we addressed the only substantive item on the agenda: a statement from the Chairman and CEO.

“I imagine you’ve all known for some time that this day would come,” I said, “I am approaching my seventieth birthday and, quite frankly, I want to slow down. You all know that my father, who built this business from nothing, continued working until he was no longer physically capable. Even then, he was still running things from his hospital bed right up until the day he knew the end was imminent. I don’t intend to do that. Is that relief I see around the table?” I paused to allow the group to settle again. “David and Jess have been standing in for me more and more over the past months, and I now feel ready to hand the reins to them. My purpose this morning is to offer you my resignation as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately, and to request that you approve the appointment of David and Jess as joint holders of the office. For the time being at least, I intend to remain in post as Chairman, but I shall stand back from the day-to-day running of Knight Global Trading. That’s it. Thank you all for your loyal support over the years and for enabling the group to go from strength to strength.” I took my seat again, as Sophie leaned over with a smile, squeezed my hand and planted a kiss on my cheek.

Max stood. “Thank you, Hannice. For my part, being of the same age, I wish to give three months’ notice of my intention to leave my post as Chief Financial Officer. That will give enough time for you to select a replacement. I shall provide a short-list of names that I consider suitable, headed by my number two, Caspar Jakobsson, but I won’t attempt to influence the Board’s decision. As for my post of Regional Director for Africa, I have already handed the job to LJ Aldredge in Tanzania. I would ask the Board to consider appointing him regional director in my stead. That will be effective immediately, or as soon as you can do it.” She took her seat to applause from those present in person and over the teleconference links.

Hank stood next. “Not wishing to steal anyone’s thunder, but you are all aware that I have about six years on Hannice and Max. I have been thinking about this for nearly three years now, but Hannice and Max having spoken has prompted me to follow suit. My tenure as Chief Operating Officer has been a source of great joy and great challenge. I have loved every day of it, but seventy-five is plenty old enough to be retiring. Tanja Voorwinde, who is in post as Regional Manager, Europe but doing the regional director’s job, is overdue for confirmation in the post. For myself, can I ask you to accept three months’ notice of my intention to retire, please? Thank you all.”

David blanched visibly. He knew I was stepping down, but the thought of taking over and immediately losing two of the most senior, most experienced and most respected directors wasn’t what he was expecting.

As Chairman, I took the lead again. “Can I have a show of hands for the appointment of David and Jess as joint CEO?”

“Ten for, four abstentions,” Owen said, “The motion passes. So minuted.”

“Thank you, Mr Company Secretary. Appointment of LJ Aldredge as Regional Director, Africa?”

“Unanimous. So minuted.”

“Appointment of Tanja Voorwinde as Regional Director, Europe?”

“Unanimous. So minuted.” I took my seat and Owen stood. “Mr Chairman, I would ask you to bring this meeting to a close. Mr David Knight, once the meeting is closed, will you reconvene, please?”

“Is that strictly necessary, Owen?” I asked.

“With respect, Mr Knight, the company constitution states that all Board meetings are called by the Company Secretary following a request by the Chief Executive. You will effectively relinquish your post by closing the meeting. Mr David Knight or Mrs Jessica Knight, as CEO, will ask me to call a meeting, which I shall do immediately.”

“What a palaver,” I said, “Never mind. This meeting is adjourned.”

“Mr Nicholls,” David said, “Would you be so kind as to convene a meeting of the Board, please?”

“With pleasure, Sir. This meeting is called to order. This meeting is a continuation of the previous meeting adjourned by our Chairman. Its minutes will be combined with those of this meeting. All in favour? Unanimous. So minuted.”

“That’s it?” David asked.

“It is, Mr David. The resolutions passed in your father’s meeting have now taken effect.”
There being no other business, this second meeting was brought to a close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 5.3

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 five, part three.

Joe Green called into my office within minutes of David’s and my arrival. David and Joe had met before, of course, but this was the first time they had shared a formal meeting.

After coffee and a period of small-talk, we got down to the business in hand.

“Joe,” I said, “I intend to call my internal legal and compliance team in shortly, but I wanted to get this clear with you first. After all, you are the public face of KGT as far as legal matters go.”

“What’s on your mind, Hannice?”

“You know that I have transferred shares to David and that I’m about to propose to the Board that we elevate him to full director.”

“Is there a problem with that?”

“Not at all, old chap. Thing is, David wants to replicate with his wife, Jessica, the arrangement that I made for Sophie. And for pretty much the same reasons.”

“No problem. It’s just a matter of transferring a small number of shares to make her a nominal director. Just as we did for Sophie.’

“David wants to go farther than that.”

Joe looked at David with raised eyebrows.

“I want the business to see Jess and me as equivalent,” David said.

“Not with you,” Joe replied.

“Jess and I are a team,” he said, “inseparable in almost every respect. I want that to be reflected here. I want her to be a full director. I want the Board to accept that whichever of us is present, the effect will be the same. We are two sides of the same coin.”

“Let me see if I’ve got this right,” Joe said, “there is to be a unit, let’s call it 3g – third generation Knight – that is comprised of you and Jessica. Whether you or Mrs Knight is present at a Board meeting, the effect will be identical. Am I right so far?”

“Uh-uh.”

“Now. If you both attend a meeting, which I imagine could happen from time to time, you will have two votes.”

“Yes.”

“Does it follow that if only one of you is present, that person will have two votes?”

“Yes, but only where proxy votes are permitted.”

“And for quorum purposes, will each of you alone count as one or two directors?”

“He’s got a point there,” I said.

David looked pensive. “I think,” he said at last, “that falls within your sphere of competence. We have set out what we want to achieve, you work out the details and tell us how it can happen.” I was rather proud of my son at that point.

“Very well,” Joe said, “there are implications that I shall have to look into but, as you say, it’s my job to make it work. I’ll get my team on it.”

We ended the meeting at that point. Joe went away looking as though we’d just dropped all the world’s troubles on his shoulders which, in a small way, I suppose we had.

The subsequent meeting with legal and compliance was easier. Their main job was to make sure that whatever we did at Board level was in line with the Memorandum and Articles of Association and to lodge any amendments that may be needed. If they were becoming exasperated by the changes we told them about, they weren’t letting on. In fact, increasing the number of directors to include David raised no issue, as we had decided, after losing Stephen Parker, to declare his position vacant rather than reducing the count. They did tell us that the paperwork wasn’t back yet after adding David’s name and they couldn’t add Sophie until they were returned. That suited us, as it would give a few days for Joe Green to sort out his end of things.

As a matter of protocol, we spoke with each of the resident directors individually to let them know what we were aiming to do. I’m happy to say they were all supportive, although as most of them would be retiring within five years or so, their concerns were as much towards their own succession as mine, possibly more so. The only exceptions to that were Max and Henk, both of whom were well aware of their successors. Indeed, they’d been grooming them for the previous decade.

Over the next couple of days, we spoke with the regional directors for Middle East and Asia, North America, South America and Australasia to update them, too.

When Joe Green got back to me, he was more positive than I had expected. Not only had he sorted the issues we’d landed him with, but he’d also addressed the issues of quorum and proxy, something that had been an issue in the past. Establishment was now for fourteen directors, including those in the regions and specifically the technically vacant posts of regional director for Europe and Africa, with a default quorum of five. Joe proposed increasing quorum to seven and allowing the non-resident regional directors to appoint proxies on an ad-hoc basis. That would mean that all but one of the eight resident directors would need to be present if none tele-conferenced in from the regions.

After discussion, we concluded that it was a workable arrangement and instructed him to proceed on that basis.