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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


Derek Hanekom appointed new SAA interim chair

The new SAA board will serve until the introduction of the Takatso Consortium.


Former minister of tourism Derek Hanekom has been appointed as interim non-executive director and chairperson of South African Airways (SAA).

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan made the announcement on Monday.

The department said the new SAA board is highly “skilled and diverse marking a significant step forward in the national carrier’s ongoing transformation”.

“This new interim board builds upon the foundations laid by the previous board and brings together an exceptional team of experts with experience across various fields.”

New board members

The other interim directors are finance professional Fathima Gany, former Airports Company of SA (Acsa) chief operating officer Fundi Sithebe, finance and business strategist Mahlubi Mazwi, corporate and compliance advocate Johannes Weapond, financial and corporate restructure expert Clarissa Appana, and economist and strategist Dumisani Sangweni.

The Public Enterprise Department said the interim board was effective from 15 April 2023 and will serve until the introduction of the strategic equity partner, Takatso Consortium.

“This distinguished and diverse team boasts expertise across various fields, including aviation, chartered accounting, corporate financial management, legal, human resources, economics, public policy, investment, and transactions.”

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Focus

It said the primary focus areas of the interim board is to provide strategic leadership to the transitional management team and overseeing the integration of Takatso Consortium.

“The consortium is poised to acquire a 51% majority stake in SAA, with the transaction presently undergoing regulatory review.

“The interim board remains dedicated to tackling key priorities, including implementing cost-saving measures, expanding route networks, elevating customer satisfaction, and expediting all requisite regulatory preparations to ensure a seamless transition as the Takatso Consortium assumes its role as the majority shareholder,” it said.

Takatso Consortium

However, Takatso has always been clear that it will not take on any historic debt of SAA.

It wants to be sure all prior liabilities of SAA have been finalised in accordance with the business rescue plan…” it said.

Despite SAA getting R1 billion in the 2023 budget to settle historic debt, the DPE estimated about another R2.5 billion was needed for that purpose.

The allocation of R1 billion was a portion of the initial R3.5 billion that was required by SAA to pay off all debts that the Business Rescue practitioners had segregated into a Receivership.

However, that figure was reduced and total balance from National Treasury was brought down to R2.5 billion.

“To support SAA in achieving its goals, we have put in place strategies and plans that align with the airline’s vision and objectives,” Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said.

Commitment

Gordhan stated that the appointment of this interim board underscores unwavering commitment to the success and stability of SAA.

“We recognise the challenges SAA has faced in the past and the importance of learning from those experiences to ensure the airline’s future success. The government is resolute in demonstrating our dedication to restructuring SAA and revitalising state-owned enterprises, as part of our broader commitment to promoting economic growth and development.”

Gordhan added that the DPE is also reviewing the composition and skills in each of the SOEs under its mandate.

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