Editorial: KPMG provides CFOs for JSE firms, Madonsela finds `improper conduct`


Here at CFO South Africa we of course think that Chief Financial Officers have the best jobs in the world. At KPMG they are clearly thinking the same! Not only has the professional services firm signed up as our principal sponsor for 2015, this week another KPMG bigwig chose a career as CFO himself.

Riaan Davel, audit partner at KPMG, will join JSE-listed gold mining company DRDGold in January. During his 17 years in the professional services industry, Davel has mostly worked in the mining sector in Africa, so he is bringing a wealth of experience. Chatting to former Big 4 directors and partners, I often sense the urge to test themselves as an executive after years of advising boards and businesses - Davel's move fits right into that pattern. A couple of months ago DRDGold's 34-year young CFO Francois van der Westhuizen resigned and Anthon Meyer, the experienced former CFO of Mintails Limited, held the fort for a few months.

Last month we reported that KPMG Africa COO Anthony Thunström has also chosen a future as CFO. He will be joining JSE-listed clothing retailer Foschini in February. We wish both Davel and Thunström all the best in their new positions and hope to greet them at one of our 2015 events, proudly sponsored by their - then - former employer KPMG.

In the Eastern Cape Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Senqu Municipality's CFO Christopher Venter was without the required qualifications for most of the time since he was first appointed in 2007. Venter only passed matric and no tertiary. In June this year he qualified, which lead Madonsela to conclude there had been "improper conduct" but shying away from calling for Venter's resignation.

Two weeks ago we pondered if it is a problem that South African finance experts leave our shores and becomes successful CFO elsewhere, like University of Johannesburg trained Lorna Raine, who was announced as the new CFO of George Weston Foods in Australia.But let's face it, many South Africans in the UK, Australia or elsewhere get homesick - and that doesn't exclude CFOs. An example is Charl de Beer who recently stepped down from the role of CFO at Cloud-based global video distribution and monetisation network, Rightster Group, to come back to South Africa. He is being succeeded by Niall Dore.

There were a number of other interesting CFO appointments in the last week. Oil and gas company, SacOil has poached Damian Matroos from Sasol to become its CFO from 1 February 2015. He is currently Sasol's vice president for corporate finance and is responsible for mergers and acquisition. SacOil's acting CFO Tariro Mudzimuirema will be returning to the position of financial manager of the company.

Swiss investment bank UBS appointed Nigel Bretton as CFO after Jonathan Lewis decided to stay with his previous employer Nomura. Lewis was co-deputy CFO at Nomura, was about to move to UBS, but is now appointed as CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa at the Japanese company. Groupe Danone appointed Cecile Cabanis as CFO, a promotion from within the ranks. She succeeds Pierre-Andre Terisse, who was named executive vice-president of the newly created Africa division.

Havas Media Group has announced the appointment of Michael Lelievre as CFO for Asia Pacific. Lelievre has been working for Bollore Group for most of his career, working across South Africa, France and UK. The American entertainment company Warner Bros. Entertainment has announced Kim Williams as its new CFO. She filled that role previously at Core Media Group. Warner Bros.'s previous CFO Ed Romano, who filled that tole since 1994, is promoted to vice chairman.

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