WE said in our 2017 edition that Sulaiman had made a decent fist of taking Wescoal Holdings forward after a difficult period in which founding CEO, Andre Bojé, suddenly left the company. And, for most of 2018, the report card shows much the same business vigour. Pity the share price has tailed off in the last two months of 2017 despite the export thermal coal price punching through $100/t. This we find hard to explain unless investors are worried about Wescoal’s significant exposure to Eskom, the financially stressed South African power utility it supplies. Sulaiman was active in the merger and acquisition (M&A) market last year, snapping up rival Keaton Energy for R525m. He also paid down Wescoal’s expensive short-term debt and replaced it with R440m in new, long-term debt. Sulaiman has also overseen the reopening of its Khanyisa mine while the development of Moabsvelden – a proposed 2m tonnes/year project gained through the Keaton deal – would see the firm average 7.8m tonnes/year, of which at least 1m tonnes/year would be exported. Sulaiman wants more of the export action and has already pencilled potential M&A targets, but more Eskom exposure is not a disaster as its high empowerment loading gives it a competitive edge in negotiating new contracts with the utility. Despite the share price wobble, Wescoal shares offered yield with an interim dividend of 3.1 South African cents per share unveiled in November.
LIFE OF WAHEED
Sulaiman originally hails from Carnarvon in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. He has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Cape Town and a BCom in business management from Unisa. He joined Wescoal in 2010 to head up commercial and strategy affairs and was previously employed at BHP Billiton, now BHP, with assignments in Chile, Turkey, Australia and South Africa.
- Web Address: www.wescoal.co.za