Wescoal slides 11% after shock resignation of CEO, Waheed Sulaiman

Waheed Sulaiman, former CEO, Wescoal Holdings

SHARES in Wescoal Holdings slid 11% by close of trade in Johannesburg on January 28 after it announced the resignation of Waheed Sulaiman, the company’s CEO.

Sulaiman’s resignation, effective from January 31, comes as a surprise to both the investment market and, clearly, the company itself as Humphrey Mathe, an independent non-executive on Wescoal’s board, has been drafted in as interim CEO.

“Dr Mathe is recognised as a doyen in mining by industry peers, government and across the public sector,” said Wescoal in a statement to the JSE. Mathe will hold the position “… for the transitional period until a suitable candidate is appointed,” it added.

The company didn’t provide any other details. Jacques de Bie, a spokesman for Wescoal, told BusinessLive there was strict confidentiality in the employment contract between the company and Sulaiman. He was appointed CEO in 2015.

There was little sign Sulaiman was heading for the door.

In November, for instance, he committed Wescoal to a consortium led by Ata Resources bidding for shares in Universal Coal. This was part of a strategy to take run of mine coal production to 10 million tonnes/year, or higher – a plan Sulaiman was realising following the takeover of Keaton Energy in 2017.

He was, until recently, also talking about committing Wescoal to the development of the Moabsvelden project which was inherited from the Keaton takeover.

Sulaiman previously worked for Dow Chemical and BHP Billiton, where he was senior manager of strategy and business development, before joining Wescoal as commercial and strategy director. He took the reins in the wake of founding CEO, Andre Bojé’s resignation following a row, partly around black economic empowerment strategy that threatened to split the board.