Thursday, August 23, 2018
Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita

Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita


IT’S not easy to imagine the cool and collected Nonkululeko (‘Nku’) stamping her feet, but she may have after Coal of Africa (CoAL) abandoned the takeover of Universal Coal having first trumped an earlier takeover attempt by her company. Nku had declined to get involved in a bidding war for Universal, in which IchorCoal holds 29.99%, but during the contest she had questioned CoAL’s ability to service debt post the deal. As matters turned out, this is exactly why CoAL withdrew its offer for Universal: it couldn’t prove to UK regulators that the combined group had enough working capital to survive together. Since then, IchorCoal has focused on existing operations, starting underground mining at subsidiary Vunene’s Usutu Colliery and restarting Penumbra, both in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province. Production from the mines goes some way to meeting IchorCoal’s goal of 5.5 million tonnes a year in coal production by 2020, but it’s clear Nku may have to resume M&A activity for more production. The Frankfurt-listed shares aren’t responding to the growth story. They have halved over the past year, which may have something to do with South Africa’s political issues, the company’s €16.8m pre-tax annual loss, or concerns about an extended delay in concluding the audit of those figures. The delay, IchorCoal says, arises because as part of Sapinda group, it is subject to “a routine compliance procedure” initiated by Ernst & Young.


Her six years as CEO of ArcelorMittal SA (AMSA) were turbulent, amidst sinking steel prices and a long-drawn out dispute with Kumba Iron Ore over rights to Sishen’s iron ore offtake at favourable prices. She joined AMSA from Vodacom Group, where she was chief corporate strategy officer. Her first job was as an engineer for IBM in the US.

“We must be fully inclusive in our approach.”