Executive Insights

These South African CEOs are now out. Investors think these bosses could be next

Business Insider SA
Outgoing Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe and former SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana. (Photos: Netwerk24/Elizabeth Sejake, Rapport, Gallo Images)
  • A number of high-profile CEOs are out after a tumultuous two weeks. 
  • Professional investors believe more could be heading (or pushed) out the door. 
  • The bosses at Omnia and Sasol were on their lists of who may get the boot.
  • For more, go to Business Insider SA.

The resignation of SAA's CEO over the weekend was just the latest bombshell in a boardroom war zone.

A number of other well-known CEOs are also out - including Phakamani Hadebe who resigned a couple of days earlier as head of Eskom. Between them, SAA and Eskom have had 21 CEOs in a little bit more than a decade.

While Hadebe cited health concerns, SAA’s Vuyani Jarana lashed out at government, complaining about how funding uncertainty and slow decision-making undermined his turnaround plan.

Other high-profile corporate “uncouplings” in recent weeks included:

Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo

Peter Moyo, suspended CEO of Old Mutual.

The board apparently disagreed “materially” on how Moyo managed his part-owned investment company. Old Mutual is an investor in the company. Moyo has been suspended, and contends he didn't do anything wrong.

Comair CEO Erik Venter

Erik Venter, former CEO of Comair.

After 23 years with the company, he resigned “to pursue his own interests”. He has been replaced with co-CEOs: Comair exec Wrenelle Stander and failed airline 1time’s founder Glen Orsmond.

Massmart CEO Guy Hayward

No reason was given for Hayward’s resignation, but Massmart parent Walmart appointed an American “fixer” to sort out its struggling South African business. Mitch Slape has been with the US giant for almost a quarter of a century.

Grand Parade Investments CEO Hassen Adams

Small shareholders have been trying to get Adams out for months. 

Who’s next?

There is no doubt that more high-profile resignations – or axings – could come in the next months, analysts and fund managers told Business Insider SA, on condition of anonymity.

These were some of the names they singled out:

Omnia CEO Adriaan de Lange

Adriaan de Lange, CEO of Omnia

Investors reacted with fury last week after the chemicals company announced a rights issue of R2 billion – after ruling out the option in April.

The company is struggling with a debt burden of R2.7 billion – while its total market capitalisation is now only R3 billion.

A rights issue means that more shares will be issued in the company – which dilutes the value of existing shareholders.

Woolworths CEO Ian Moir

Ian Moir, CEO of Woolworths. (Getty Images)

“It’s an absolute miracle that he’s still in that office,” a wealth manager told Business Insider. Moir, who has been CEO since 2010, oversaw the company’s disastrous acquisition of the department-store chain David Jones. Billions of rands have been written off.

Sasol co-CEO Stephen Cornell

Sasol has come under immense pressure after it (again)  raised the expected cost of its American Lake Charles Chemicals Project. The project will now cost $12.9 billion – 45% more than its original projections.

While former CEO David Constable – who famously earned R50 million a year before he left in 2016 – should assume some of the blame, one prominent fund manager thinks Cornell, who has been an executive since 2014, is now in the firing line.

Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall

Lawrence MacDougall, CEO of Tiger Brands

MacDougall, who has been in the position since 2016, failed at handling the listeriosis crisis, a broker believes. Despite owning some of the strongest brands in the country, the company share price is still around its weakest levels in almost eight years.

Tiger Brands share price