Transnet to name new executive appointments by month-end

Andile Sangqu, chair, Transnet

TRANSNET was expected to finalise the appointment of a new permanent CEO and someone to head its largest division, Transnet Freight Rail by the end of the month, said the group’s chairperson Andile Sangqu.

“I think end of the month is a realistic expectation all things being equal,” said Sangqu via email. He was responding to comments by Glencore earlier today that the composition of Transnet’s executive team was expected to be finalised imminently.

“My understanding is that after a number of agreements, the board has proposed a new executive team which includes a COO below the group CEO which operationally would be a good thing,” said Murray Houston, head of Glencore’s South African coal business.

Glencore CEO Gary Nagle said the company “had a lot of confidence” Transnet’s board. “The chairman is a good guy; he’s a former Xstrata executive,” said Nagle.

“He’s done some of the heavy lifting and he is driving things in right direction. Industry experts are pulling their weight such as Mxolisi Mgojo (former CEO of Exxaro Resources) so while we won’t speculate on internal politics you have right people involved pushing in the right direction who understand the market.”

Media reports say Transnet’s acting CEO Michelle Phillips is in pole position for a full time appointment. She will replace Portia Derby who was sacked by the government about four months ago.

Other candidates considered by the board include Russell Baatjies, the acting CEO of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), Richards Bay Coal Terminal executive chair Nosipho Damasane, former Transnet CFO Mohammed Mahomedy and former Transnet group chief operations officer Mlamuli Buthelezi, according to a report by Daily Maverick on February 13.

If not chosen for the group CEO job, these individuals could still be considered for the vacant TFR CEO and chief financial officer positions, said the publication.

Kumba Iron Ore CEO Mpumi Zikalala praised Phillips in the interim role. Responding to questions during the firm’s full-year results presentation on Tuesday, Zikalala said Phillips “wants to work closely with customers”.

“We don’t always agree but we have good transparency. She has been very constructive. I hope there isn’t a political appointment,” said Zikalala. “The Presidency has made logistics a priority along with addressing power and corruption,” she said.

These comments come as South Africa’s finance minister Enoch Godongwana said he hoped to crystallise private sector investment in the country’s bulk mineral rail network by May. Critically, Transnet was not afforded any new allocations in the 2024 budget statement on Wednesday, saying that it hoped for private sector support.

“[It] will take time to reverse the consequences of operational maintenance and governance failures at state-owned companies responsible for electricity, rail and ports,” News24 cited the National Treasury as saying.