Sasol joint CEOs Bongani Nqwababa and Stephen Cornell resign

The CEOs have stepped down to allow for a leadership reset after an independent review into US project.

On Monday, 28 October, Sasol announced the resignation of joint CEOs Bongani Nqwababa and Stephen Cornell after an independent review into the Lake Charles Chemicals Projects (LCCP).

The company reassured shareholders in a statement that the board hasn’t identified misconduct or incompetence on the part of the joint CEOs. 

Sasol executive vice president of chemical Fleetwood Grobler will take over as president and CEO of Sasol from November 2019. 

Sasol chairman Mandla Gantsho thanked the CEOs for their long and loyal service to Sasol, and for showing “exemplary leadership” by putting the interests of the company first in agreeing to step down to allow for a leadership reset. 

"At the leadership level, there needs to be a more robust challenge of key decision making. A spirit of 'constructive dialogue' which includes empowering challenge and avoiding conformity, needs to extend through the company so that people always feel able and free to speak up without fear for their prospects,” Gantsho said. 

The investigation into the LCCP found inappropriate conduct and incompetence in the LCCP project management team. It also found “an improper tone at the top of the LCCP” and that managers didn’t provide accurate cost and schedule estimations to the CEOs. 

Sasol said that it will be taking disciplinary action against the executive vice president previously in charge of the LCCP. He will be removed “from all work responsibilities” and three senior vice presidents will also leave the company. 

"However, on balance, the board finds that there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that these individuals acted with an intent to defraud," the board said in the statement. 

The statement further read: 

“It is a matter of profound regret for the board that shortcomings in the execution of the LCCP have negatively impacted our overall reputation, led to a serious erosion of confidence in the leadership of the company and weakened the company financially.” 

Further to these announcements, Sasol announced the appointment of Vuyo Kahla as an executive director of Sasol with effect from 1 November 2019. The company has also appointed current senior vice president of governance, compliance and ethics as acting company secretary with effect from 1 November 2019.