Tongaat Hulett has announced its new chairman along with other board changes

Louis von Zeuner takes over as Tongaat's chairman of the board, replacing outgoing Bahle Sibisi.

In a statement this week, Tongaat said that it has decided to reduce the number of non-executive directors, as well as revitalise the directorate by replacing a number of long-serving members of its board. 

“It is the view of the board that these changes will take the company forward in its efforts to expedite both its turnaround plan and operational objectives, thereby ensuring the long term sustainability of the organisation,” the statement read. “By retaining the members of the special Restructuring Committee that have been driving the turnaround plan since February this year, the retention of institutional knowledge and an orderly transition process are also ensured.”

The board changes come after Tongaat requested that its shares be suspended from the JSE following new CEO Gavin Hudson stating that it would have to restate its financial results. The sugar producer brought in auditing firm PwC to undertake a forensic investigation into the group’s accounting practices.

Read more: Tongaat Hulett’s request for JSE shares to be suspended granted

Read more: Tongaat Hulett undergoes forensic investigation for concerning past practices

Non-executive director and chairman of the board Bahle Sibisi will step down from his position having overseen the orderly transition of the board, including the appointment of new directors.

About his department, Sibisi said: 

“Tongaat Hulett appreciates and thanks the outgoing directors after a long and dedicated service and commitment to the company. May I also commend Louis, who is assuming the role of chairman and welcome the incoming directors. We are confident that together they will bring new insights and their contribution will strengthen board oversight, as the company embarks on a path of restructuring its business and securing value for its stakeholders on a sustainable basis."

Stepping down from the board are the following: 

Independent non-executive director Rachel Kupara will be stepping down as a member of the Audit and Compliance Committee, and independent non-executive director Brand Pretorius, who has reached the board retirement age of 70 last year, will now be retiring as the chairman of the Remuneration Committee and member of the Nomination Committee. Independent non-executive director Tomaz Salomao will also be stepping down.

Remaining on the board are the following directors:

Independent non-executive director Louis von Zeuner will continue as a director on the board and assume the role of chairman with effect from 1 October. 

In addition to remaining a director on the board, Stephen Beesley will also become chairman of the Social and Ethics Committee with effect from 1 October. Farima Daniels will also continue as a director on the board and chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee. 

The new appointments are as follows: 

  • Anglo American South Africa executive head Andile Sangqu.
  • Linda de Beer, who serves as an independent non-executive director on a number of JSE listed boards, including Aspen Pharmacare, Omnia and Momentum Metropolitan. She also chairs the financial reporting investigation panel of the JSE and is a member of the King Committee. 
  • Former Aquarius Platinum and Sibanye-Stillwater (platinum division) CEO Jean Nel. He is also a non-executive director of Mimosa Investments, Northam Platinum and DRDGold, and co-owns and manages investments in a number of commercial property and hospitality assets and partnerships in South Africa, Namibia and the UK, and also serves on the investment committee and board of a small focussed Specialist Mining Finance Fund.
  • Former CEO of multi-beverage businesses Robin Goetzsche. He is also currently a non-executive director of The Beverage Company.

Incoming chairman Von Zeuner said: 

“The board gave careful consideration to succession to ensure continuity and a smooth transition for Tongaat Hulett. I extend my gratitude and best wishes for the future to all outgoing directors. A sincere welcome is extended to all newly appointed directors and we look forward to their future contributions.”