Earning big bucks and packaging Zam-Buk - what we know about the new Eskom CEO
- André de Ruyter beat more than 140 contenders to be appointed as Eskom's CEO.
- De Ruyter currently heads Nampak, the largest diversified packaging company in Africa, and had a long career with Sasol.
- He previously vehemently opposed above-inflation Eskom tariff hikes and demanded lower rates for manufacturers.
- For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.
Despite leading the largest diversified packaging company on the continent, André de Ruyter’s appointment to Eskom CEO was widely met with blank stares.
The market was expecting Andy Calitz, a South African-born Shell executive and engineer who has managed some of the biggest energy projects in the world.
While De Ruyter’s credentials may not be as sterling, it’s not difficult to see how his mix of skills put him ahead of the more than 140 other candidates for SA’s toughest job.
He has solid experience in both the worlds of energy – he worked for Sasol for most of his career – and a sector that is critically dependent on uninterrupted, affordable electricity: manufacturing.
In the past, he vehemently opposed above-inflation Eskom tariff hikes and demanded that the utility should address its own inefficiencies before it recovers losses from its customers.
De Ruyter also wanted government to lower electricity rates to industry, and as a former chairperson of the Manufacturing Circle, he blamed high energy costs, in part, for the shrinking manufacturing sector, which currently contributes to around 10% of South Africa’s GDP, from 24% three decades ago. Bolstering manufacturing to 28% could create more than 1 million jobs, he argued.
Here’s what else we know about him:
He studied law and received an MBA in the Netherlands
Pretoria-born De Ruyter holds a BA degree from the University of Pretoria, an LLB from Unisa and an MBA from Nijenrode University in the Netherlands.
He worked for Sasol in China and the US
De Ruyter has held various positions in Sasol Mining, Sasol Oil, Sasol Gas and Sasol Synfuels International, and lead the development of Sasol's synthetic fuel plant in China. He is credited to leading a turnaround project to restore Sasol Olefins and Surfactants to profitability. He also headed Sasol’s North American operations, and was in charge of the initial stages of the eventually ill-fated Lake Charles Chemicals Project.
Andre de Ruyter spent more than 20 years with Sasol in senior management roles that gave him significant global exposure in the energy and chemicals industries. His portfolio included overseeing work in the US, Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, Germany and China.— Chris Yelland (@chrisyelland) November 18, 2019
Mboweni got to know De Ruyter at Nampak
Finance minister Tito Mboweni joined Nampak in 2010 as chairperson, four years before De Ruyter was appointed as CEO. They worked together until Mboweni resigned as chair last year on his return to public service.
Dr Reuel Khoza, who recently joined the Public Investment Corporation as chair, also served on the Nampak board with them.
De Ruyter is in charge of packaging everything from cigarettes to Zam-Buk
Nampak is Africa's largest diversified packaging manufacturer, and has been listed on the JSE for fifty years. It has 25 factories in South Africa, which contributes 60% of its income, as well as 18 sites in the rest of Africa, and 8 in the UK. Nampak has some 5,600 employees – compared to Eskom’s 47,000 workers.
The company provides plastic and carton packaging, as well as canned goods and beverages, which produce the majority of its revenue. It packages a wide range of products, including top cigarette and cold-drink brands, as well as motor oil and a favourite South Africa substance, Zam-Buk, as Business Day recently reported.
Nampak has been going through very tough times, due in part to the weak local economy and struggles in African markets.
In response, De Ruyter has shut factories, simplified Nampak's product lines and sold off some of its interests, including most recently its glass business.
"I look forward to a far simpler business with the ability to unlock value and pursue further growth opportunities in South Africa and Africa," he told an event at Gordon Institute of Business Science.
De Ruyter has also been pushing the business away from plastic, and towards more sustainable products, including a new “plastic” lid made with sugar cane.
De Ruyter earned more than R18m at Nampak
According to the Nampak annual report, De Ruyter earned almost R18.3m in 2018. His predecessor at Eskom, Phakamani Hadebe earned less than half of that amount last year, and De Ruyter has already agreed to take a pay cut, the department of public enterprises confirmed.
Oh wow! Andre De Ruyter, ex Nampak CEO, appointed CEO of Eskom. Good luck. Very distinguished man in looks and skill.— David Shapiro (@davidshapiro61) November 18, 2019
He supported Pravin Gordhan
De Ruyter was one of 81 CEOs who pledged support to the former finance minister as he faced fraud charges in 2016. Gordhan was fired by former president Jacob Zuma anyway.
De Ruyter is married, has three children, and lives in the north of Johannesburg.
Also from Business Insider South Africa:
- New 'members only' SA site AllSale promises deep discounts on perfume and cleaning supplies – but it's not for everyone
- Chicken Licken's new ad says it can change the past and future – a year after being banned from mocking colonialism
- A rare blue diamond found outside Pretoria has just been sold for R220 million
- A model didn't realise she was pregnant until she was giving birth, but 'cryptic pregnancies' happen more often than you might think
- Namibia has promised longer visas for SA business people, in a drive for more investment
- You can now get ‘free’ Uber Eats deliveries for R50 a month – with one catch