Tag: CEO

By Adiel Ismail for Fin24 

Goliath and Goliath CEO Kate Goliath is encouraging small businesses to ramp up security measures after her comedy and entertainment agency fell victim to invoice intercepting as a result of e-mail hacking.

Goliath and Goliath is out of pocket to the tune of more than R300 000, while its subsidiary The PR Bailiff has been scammed out of R20 000.

The hackers gained access to the company’s emails and requested clients to make payments to a different bank account.

Goliath told Fin24 that small businesses shouldn’t just rely on tech companies to educate them about cybercrime.”Find out as much information about how hackers get into the systems so that you are aware of what service providers need to offer,” she said.

“Be vigilant. Protect your business and insure the technical side of your business as well.”

The company opened a case with the police and is in the process of sending a subpoena to the bank where the funds have been deposited.

Afrihost said it will work with the police to further investigate the incident. “We strongly believe this was a case of phishing,” a representative told Fin24.

Entertainment and media high risk for cybercrime

“We have noticed that some banks are posting warnings before a client makes a payment to verify that the bank details they’re using are correct. We assume that this is because of an increase in these types of phishing attacks.”

Cyber incidents rank top in the entertainment and media, financial services, technology and telecommunications industries, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2018.

The report revealed that cyber incidents remain a top threat with 38% of responses for South African businesses, which is reported to lose billions of rands a year to cyber attacks.

The three Goliaths – Jason, Donovan and Nicholas – do stand-up comedy and entertains at workshops, conferences, award ceremonies and events.

Craig Rosewarne, Managing Director at Wolfpack Information Risk, which is a threat intelligence firm that specialises in understanding and predicting cyber threats, said small and medium businesses are just as vulnerable as big businesses when it comes to hacking.

“Their challenge however is that security is often the last thought until they get stung and end up either losing a substantial amount of money or leaking their customer’s sensitive data,” he told Fin24.

Wolfpack has assisted many small and medium sized businesses whose invoices have been hacked, said Roseware. In this regard it has found three common causes:

1. Attackers will perform reconnaissance on key individuals in IT / Finance / Execs and send a targeted spear phishing email to target their machines for access or further information

2. Spyware is loaded on their devices that record keystrokes and take screenshots for the attacker

3. Compromising their online hosting / email platform and adding in rules for any email that has the word “invoice” or “payment” – to send a duplicate email to the attacker’s gmail or “burner” account.

Tips for companies

Roseware suggested that companies under attack should conduct an independent risk assessment and obtain guidance on how to mitigate risk.

“Employees should also be made aware of risks and this should be backed up with an information security policy signed by staff and contractors.”

He also stressed the importance of having up to date anti-malware software on all devices that process sensitive information.

Cyber risk is fast becoming the number one risk facing countries, governments and organisations, noted Roseware.

“In all of these scenarios it often boils down to an individual that gets compromised so cyber awareness is key in both your business and personal lives.”

By Jonathan Easton for PCR

Back in January, it was announced that Fujifilm is set to acquire Xerox to create an $18 billion printing monolith but cracks are starting to show.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, a new lawsuit is claiming that Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson pursued a deal, even though the company’s board advised him against it.

That board ‘advice’ actually came all the way back in November 2017 because the CEO’s position was under review. The paper appears to have learned this information from an amended suit filed in a New York state court on Sunday by Darwin Deason, a Xerox holder who opposes the deal. Deason claims that the deal ‘undervalues the copier and printer company’.

On Sunday, the company denied the claim, with Xerox Chairman Robert Keegan making a statement that: “Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson was fully authorized to engage in discussions with Fujifilm and Fuji Xerox on the proposed combination.”

He added that the lawsuit “distorts many of the facts regarding the proposed combination with Fuji Xerox.”

Deason, combined with activist shareholder Carl Icahn, holds a not insignificant 15 per cent of Xerox shares. They are arguing that, from their perspective as shareholders, the deal “disproportionately” favours Fuji.

The lawsuit could also be read as something of a power play from the outspoken Deason who wants to shake up the board.

As Reuters points out: “Deason wants to nominate directors to the Xerox board, despite missing a deadline, arguing in his suit that the current board had made a series of significant decisions and disclosures to stockholders after the nomination deadline.”

The news may come as a shock, with all parties previously appearing delighted at the deal.

Steve Hoover, senior VP and CTO at Xerox, wrote for PCR:

“What is it about the combination that will help our customers? Is it because Xerox and Fuji Xerox perfectly complement each other with our technology? Customers will have access to a broader combined product portfolio and feel confident that they are getting the best product available for them, regardless of where in the world they are—whether it is Boise or Burma, Japan or Jakarta. Additionally, the new Fuji Xerox will have a fully unified supply chain, which will bring the products to our customers seamlessly across the globe faster than ever before.

“The new Fuji Xerox will combine two leaders with world-class technological capabilities and cultures of innovation. Together, we invest nearly one billion dollars in research and product development and will lead the evolution of our industry. We will go beyond print as we know it today and drive change in important areas like inkjet, printed electronics, and printing on three-dimensional objects. In addition, our customers can expect advancements in artificial intelligence and analysis of text, image and video, device security and intelligent workplace assistants.”

Asher Bohbot returns to beleaguered EOH

Former EOH CEO Asher Bohbot has returned to the business he founded. He has taken up a full-time role focusing on strategy and stakeholder management, the listed technology group said in a statement on Wednesday.

Bohbot returns to EOH at a difficult time for the group, after its share price was pummelled following the forced sale of shares by two of its directors and investigations around possible corrupt dealings involving one of its now former subsidiary companies.

“The intention was always that Asher would return at the end of his six-month sabbatical, having stepped down in May this year,” said EOH CEO Zunaid Mayet in the statement.

EOH had previously said Bohbot would return to the group’s board as a non-executive director. An EOH spokeswoman told TechCentral that Bohbot is not returning to the board.

“Asher brings extensive experience and depth of knowledge to the business, which will be extremely valuable, so I’m most grateful that he’s agreed to join us for a period on a full-time basis,” Mayet said. His contract does not have a fixed term and is open ended, according to the spokeswoman.

The appointment is effective immediately, EOH said.

Last week, EOH shares were sold off aggressively, with the counter shedding more than 40% at one point on Friday (on top of a 35% slump on Thursday) to reach lows last seen six years ago, well below R30/share. It later bounced back. It closed on Friday at R49.01/share, still well off its recent trading range around R75-R80/share.

The slump was likely in part related to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) raids last week to do with alleged corruption at the South African Police Service.

Analysts have also blamed contagion related to the accounting scandal by furniture retailer Steinhoff, with investors selling off equities that are perceived to have high risk.

Forced sale

The forced sale of shares by financial institutions against equity financed transactions to various individual shareholders, including two EOH directors — John King and Jehan Mackay — compounded the fall.

EOH said last week that it had reached agreement with the former shareholders of Grid Control Technologies, Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) and Investigative Software Solutions to unwind a 2015 deal to acquire them, with unwinding effective from 31 October 2017.

The Daily Maverick reported earlier this month that Ipid’s head of investigations told parliament’s standing committee on public accounts that there had been a “clear manipulation of the procurement system” in favour of FDA, a company led by controversial businessman Keith Keating. The Ipid official reportedly said there was a corrupt relationship between FDA and the police service.

Source: Money Web 

South Africa’s troubled retailer, Edcon Group, has said that it would appoint Grant Pattison, the former Massmart boss, as its new chief executive next February in a vote of confidence for home grown talent.

South African-born Pattison has been tasked with implementing the group’s strategy, revitalising CNA, growing Edcon’s cellular business and growing the company in South Africa and the rest of the African continent.

Speaking to journalists at the company’s headquarters in Johannesburg yesterday, Pattison said he planned to step up to the challenge of restoring the Edcon’s image.

“The challenge of restoring Edcon to its former glory is both a privilege and a massive challenge,” he said.

Edcon has lost significant market share from local and international competitors, and was trying to claw back its diminishing customer base.
Pattison said he was not fazed by challenges in the retail sector.

“I am a professional chief executive and someone has to step and help the company through these times,” Pattison said.
Pattison, who is currently a non-executive director, will replace Bernie Brookes. Brookes will step down following a two-year tenure at Edcon.

Brookes, the former managing director of the Myer Group, is set to extend his contract, which was due to run until January next year.

To ensure a smooth transition, Pattison will be appointed as Edcon’s chief executive and chief operations officer designate on June 5, joining the executive management of the group and reporting to Brookes.

Brookes said that CNA had lost its path and the company would need to spend R100 million to revitalise the stores’ brand image.

“CNA fiddled in far too many categories. When you fiddle, you fail. We will take CNA back to its roots of being a stationery store. For example we were selling DVDs,” he said.

Brookes said that the company would eliminate the sale of items like toys at CNA.
“We will limit the sale of toys to peak periods like Christmas and Valentine’s Day,” he said.

Edcon is the largest clothing, footwear and general merchandise retailer in South Africa, completed by the sale of its Legit business for R637 million.
It operates more than 1400 stores with nine store formats and annual revenues of R25.2 billion.
The company said it had put the brakes on opening new stores and that there were 120 less stores this year compared with last year as part of the company’s plan to consolidate struggling operations.
“We have more space than any other retailer in South Africa. In some cases we have stores in the central business districts and we have stores in rural areas which are struggling because of the drought.
“We are planning to close struggling stores, and we will change labels in favour of more profitable ones,” he said.
Edcon, whose division includes Edgars, Boardmans, Red Square and mono-branded stores, has decided to exit international brands in favour of local brands.

By Dineo Faku for www.iol.co.za

Office Depot has named a successor to CEO Roland Smith, who previously announced his intention to retire from the company. The company also named a new chairman.

The retailer has appointed Gerry P. Smith as CEO, effective 27 February. Smith currently serves as executive VP and COO of Lenovo Group, a $45 billion global technology company.

Smith joined Lenovo in 2006 and was instrumental in the company’s growth to become the largest personal computer company, according to a statement by Office Depot. Prior to Lenovo, Smith held executive positions at Dell, from 1994 until 2006.

“Gerry possesses significant operating expertise, having successfully led business units across Lenovo’s entire product portfolio, including an industry recognized supply chain organisation,” says Warren Bryant, lead director of the board of directors and chair of the CEO search committee. “His long-standing relationships with some of Office Depot’s largest suppliers will enable him to quickly transition into the role.”

Although Smith previously announced his intention to continue as chairman, Office Depot is replacing him with director Joseph Vassalluzzo as chairman, effective 27 February, according to the news release. Vassalluzzo joined Office Depot’s board in August 2013 and is now Chair of the Finance and Integration Committee. He was previously the vice chairman at Staples.

Smith joined Office Depot as CEO in 2013, just after the company completed its merger with OfficeMax. The chain has been struggling to reposition itself since its merger with Staples was called off amid antitrust concerns.

“Roland has been an outstanding CEO and, on behalf of the entire board, I’d like to express our sincere appreciation for his leadership,” says Bryant. “He has consistently delivered positive results, led the successful integration of Office Depot and OfficeMax to achieve synergies and efficiencies significantly exceeding original expectations, and he created and implemented a new three-year strategic plan. As a result of his contributions, the company is well positioned for continued future success.”

By Marianne Wilson for www.chainstoreage.com

Edcon returned to profit in the second quarter after debt repayment costs eased following the exit of US private equity firm Bain Capital, while the retailer cleared unwanted stock to boost sales over the busy festive period.

Net income for the three months through September was R163m, the Johannesburg-based owner of the Edgars and Jet chains said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. That compares with a R2.1bn loss a year earlier.

Cash sales increased 0.8%, although a slump in purchases on credit meant total revenue declined 6.8%.

“Within each of the Edgars, Jet and Specialty divisions, there is significant momentum underway of internal change,” CEO Bernie Brookes says. “While we still have some way to go, progress is pleasing.”

Under Brookes, Edcon is battling to turn around the business after Bain’s exit in September eased the debt burden from the US firm’s 2007 takeover to R6bn from R26.7bn.

The company needs to boost sales and profit at the same time as South African consumer confidence is struggling amid the weakest economic growth since 2009 and unemployment of 27%.

“The difficult consumer environment, led largely by challenging macro-economic factors, continued to weigh on the group’s share of profits,” Brookes says.

“To improve the aged stock profile ahead of the third quarter, we undertook increased and focused clearance during the quarter, specifically in the Edgars division.”

Franklin Templeton, a fund based in San Mateo, California, became Edcon’s single largest shareholder after Bain’s exit, Brookes says.

By John Bowker for Fin24

The failed marriage of Office Depot and Staples has claimed another CEO. Nearly three months after Staples chief Ron Sargent made his sad exit, the Depot’s top exec Roland Smith announced his departure.

Smith isn’t leaving immediately but will remain as CEO until a successor is named, so tell Shannon in marketing she can stop pretending to casually stand near his office because we all know she’s just trying to call dibs on his sweet desk blotter.

The outgoing CEO, who hasn’t even been with Office Depot for three full years, is also expected to retain his spot as Chairman of the Office Depot board, according to a statement from the company.

“My decision to retire has not been an easy one. In 2013, I set aside a number of personal ambitions to accept a three-year contract with Office Depot, and it’s now time for me to refocus on those priorities,” says Smith in a statement. “I am extraordinarily proud of what the Office Depot team has accomplished these past three years, and I am confident that we will successfully execute our new strategy and grow shareholder value.”

In Feb. 2015, Staples and Office Depot announced a $6,3-billion merger, nearly two decades after federal antitrust regulators blocked the retailers’ first marriage. Then earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission sued to block this latest deal,

After nearly a year of investigating the deal, the Federal Trade Commission sued to block the merger, arguing that further consolidation would harm competition nationwide in the market for “consumable” office supplies – pens, paper, sticky notes, etc. – sold to large business customers.

In May 2016, a federal judge sided with the government, putting an end to merger, and to the careers of Sargent and Smith, who joined Office Depot while it was in the middle of successfully acquiring OfficeMax.

Earlier this month, Office Depot announced it would close 300 stores on top of the 400 it had already planned to close by the end of 2016.

By Chris Morran for www.consumerist.com

Global reseller and solutions provider, Staples, has parted company with its CEO, Ron Sargent, following a “mutual agreement” with the company’s top executive.

The change will come into effect after the company’s annual meeting of shareholders on 14 June, at which time Shira Goodman, Staples’ current president of North American operations will become interim CEO.

At the meeting, Sargent faces a shareholder vote to see if he will continue to serve as a director and non-executive chairman through the company’s 2016 fiscal year ending on January 28, 2017.

The company will appoint a special committee to conduct a search for a permanent replacement, which will consider both internal and external candidates with the support of an executive search firm.

In discussing plans for the interim role, Goodman says, she was confident the company could achieve its objectives through a focus on the mid-market and product by intensifying its focus on “best growth opportunities with mid-market business customers in North America and in key categories beyond office supplies.”

Local implications

Staples Technology Solutions Australia general manager, Karl Sice, says the focus of the new CEO, once appointed, would be on a business restructure that would likely involve selling of the company’s European operations.

“It depends on who the ultimately choose,” he explained. “The board traditionally at times like this has tended to look outside as well as inside.”

“Just after the judge’s decision [to block Staples’ buyout of Office Depot], one of the things that Ron [Sargent] says publicly was the business was looking at a number of strategic options, including what it would do with the European business.

“I am guessing that if you were to get someone in from outside, those types of conversations would become more commonplace.

Sice says that the new chief would most likely have such an endeavour high on their list of priorities after assuming the new role.

He adds that the person would be aware of the organisation’s capacity to make the kind of play that OfficeMax was and would likely consider which lines of business the company would look to grow.

“I see the technology business as one of the highest growth areas,” he adds.

The company has a total of five lines of business beyond office supplies, technology and facilities are two of the largest of those five.

Sice went on to say that this was one of the key growth areas for the company both globally and locally.

“The fact that we have only just started ramping up some of the work that we are doing and some of the workloads that we are now involved in tells you how much market opportunity there is.

Sice echoed Goodman’s sentiment that the mid-market was a key target area for the reseller.

“The middle market was never a major focus for the company way back. Over the last few years it has gone from basically a zero head count to 150 dedicated sales personnel.

Staples total sales headcount in Australia is 650 people across all lines of business, mid-market sales accounts for close to a third of total sales staff locally.

“Quite frankly, we are chasing what should have been probably a focus for the business quite a few years ago.”

By Chris Player for www.arnnet.com.au

Steven Schmidt, executive vice-president and president, International, of Office Depot, has announced his intention to retire from the company effective 27 May, 2016.

Schmidt was responsible for managing the company’s international businesses in Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia and Mexico.

Previously, Schmidt served as President of International for Office Depot. He brought to the company more than 30 years’ diverse business expertise and leadership.

Before joining Office Depot in 2007 as president, North American Business Solutions Division, Schmidt was with ACNielsen Corporation, where he spent 12 years in senior management roles such as president and CEO.

Prior to ACNielsen, Schmidt spent eight years at Pillsbury Food Company, serving as the company’s president of Canada and Southeast Asia. He also held management positions at PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble.

Schmidt is a graduate of Purdue University and holds a BA in Industrial Administration. He is a member of the boards of the Purdue Research Foundation and Krannert School of Management.

Source: www.reuters.com and www.news.officedepot.com
Photo: OPI.net

Bidvest CEO to step down

Bidvest founder and CEO Brian Joffe will step down after a deal to spin off and separately list the industrial conglomerate’s food business goes through, he said on Monday.

He made the announcement after reporting that Bidvest saw a 13,1% rise in half-year profit on Monday, buoyed by its food services business and the effect of currency depreciation in its home market.

Bidvest, whose business spans pharmaceuticals, auto showrooms, shipping and catering, said diluted headline earnings per share totalled 1 001.5 cents in the six months to end-December, compared with 886.3 cents a year earlier.

Headline EPS is the main profit gauge in South Africa and strips out certain one-off items.

The group said tough trading conditions at home, where sales grew by only 3%, weighed on its results, but its food services business showed exceptional growth in Britain, Europe and some of China’s large cities.

“The average rand exchange rate weakened against sterling and the euro, resulting in a 3,7% benefit to trading profit,” the company said.

Bidvest announced earlier this month that it plans to list its food services business separately on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.

Source: Fin24

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