Tag: CEO

Absa CEO resigns after less than 18 months

By Dieketseng Maleke for IOL

Banking group Absa’s chief executive is set to step down after just 16 months in the position. The bank subsequently confirmed the news in a SENS announcement.

On Tuesday, BDLive reported that Daniel Mminele was leaving due to differences with executives over the strategic direction of the country’s third-biggest banking group by assets.

According to the publication, people who were familiar with the matter said: “Mminele and Absa had agreed to part ways due to differences with some members of his executive team over changes to the bank’s strategy, which was largely in place when he joined.

“Subsequent discussions with the board failed to resolve the issues leading to the eventual decision to part ways, the people said.”

Attempts to reach Absa for comment were unsuccessful.

 

Jeff Bezos steps down as Amazon CEO

Source: EWN

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has announced that he will stand aside later this year as chief executive of the company he built from a startup into one of the world’s most valuable firms.

The world’s richest person based on his Amazon stake, Bezos said he will transition to the role of executive chair in the third quarter, handing over the CEO role to Andy Jassy, who heads Amazon Web Services.

The news came as Amazon reported a blowout holiday quarter with profits more than doubling to $7.2 billion and revenue jumping 44 percent to $125.6 billion – as pandemic lockdowns caused online sales to explode around the globe.

In a letter to Amazon employees, Bezos said he would “stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives” but would pivot towards philanthropic initiatives, including his Day One Fund and Bezos Earth Fund, and other business ventures in space exploration and journalism.

“I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring,” Bezos wrote.

“I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organisations can have.”

Bezos, 57, founded Amazon in his garage in 1994 and went on to grow it into a colossus that dominates online retail, with operations in streaming music and television, groceries, cloud computing, robotics, artificial intelligence and more.

His other businesses include The Washington Post newspaper and the private space firm Blue Origin.

His successor Jassy joined Amazon as a marketing manager in 1997 and in 2003 founded AWS, the cloud services division of the company which has been one of the most profitable but least-known units of the tech giant.

“He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence,” Bezos said of Jassy.

“Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition,” he said.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives saw giving command of Amazon to Jassy as a “major step up in the clouds arms race with crosstown rival Microsoft.”

Vast expansion

Bezos’s tenure at Amazon has been marked by a vast expansion globally and surges in profitability.

The company is based in Seattle, Washington, and is developing a second headquarters outside the US capital.

Amazon’s market value was some $1.69 trillion as of Tuesday, a tenfold increase from a decade ago, making it one of the world’s most valuable.

Bezos’s stake gives him a personal fortune worth an estimated $196 billion, slightly more than Tesla chief Elon Musk who had briefly captured the title of world’s wealthiest person.

Amazon has led other businesses by guaranteeing a minimum $15 per hour wage and has invested billions in COVID-19 mitigation – but it continues to face criticism over workplace conditions at its warehouse operations.

“The company Jeff Bezos started nearly three decades ago is under a cloud of scrutiny,” said Maurice BP-Weeks of activist group coalition Athena.

“Workers are speaking up, walking out, and organizing against miserable working conditions … Small businesses are banding together to challenge Amazon’s anti-competitive practices.”

The company employs more than one million people worldwide including 800,000 in the United States.

The transition comes with Amazon and other large tech firms under heightened scrutiny from antitrust enforcers in the United States and elsewhere for their dominance of key economic sectors, which has become even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Amazon has become the leading force in online commerce, Bezos has brushed aside criticism over its dominance of the sector.

He told a congressional hearing last year that Amazon accounts for less than four percent of retail spending in the United States and has a “range of retail competitors.”

The latest quarterly results showed growth across all business segments including its cloud computing as Amazon has expanded its streaming media offerings and grocery operations.

Neil Saunders of the research firm GlobalData said Amazon has boosted sales during the pandemic “off the back of its superior logistics network,” but also faces growing competition.

“We maintain our view that Amazon will emerge from the pandemic as a bigger and stronger business,” Saunders said.

“We welcome the leadership change, if only because it will allow Jeff Bezos to focus more on innovation and new ideas.”

 

MTN CEO Rob Shuter to step down

By Gugu Lourie for Tech Financials

Rob Shuter, MTN Group CEO, will be stepping down from his role at the end of his contract in March 2021, the mobile phone operator announced on Wednesday.

“The board thanks Rob for the contribution he has made and, continues to make, to MTN. The succession process will be concluded during the year, enabling a seamless handover,” the company said in a statement.

MTN group chief technology and IT officer Charles Molapisi has been appointed to the group executive committee and the fixed contract of the group chief operations officer, Jens Schulte-Bockum, has been extended until 31 March 2022.

Shuter joined MTN from Vodafone in 2016, to replace Sifiso Dabengwa.

He was the CEO of Vodafone’s European cluster.

Shuter is also a former CEO of Vodafone Netherlands and ex-Vodacom chief financial officer. He has extensive experience in telecoms and banking having held senior management roles at Vodacom Group, Standard Bank and Nedbank prior to joining Vodafone Group. For more read: MTN taps Rob Shuter as new CEO

“We will use 2020 to implement our succession process and ensure a seamless handover to the new group president and CEO whilst maintaining our operational execution,” said Shuter in a statement.

Nampak CEO to run Eskom

By Samkelo Mtshali for IOL

The appointment on Monday of Nampak Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter as the new Eskom CEO has been met with mixed reactions from the political sphere, with the Economic Freedom Fighters particularly displeased with his appointment at the power utility.

The embattled state entity has not had a permanent CEO since the resignation of Phakamani Hadebe in July, with board chairperson Jabu Mabuza acting in the role of CEO since Hadebe’s resignation mid year.

The EFF said that Ruyter’s appointment was anti-transformation and racist and that his appointment was part of a ‘racist project’ by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to undermine Africans.

“This racist project does not seek to undermine Africans as far as it concerns management of SOEs but as important role players in the economy. It seeks to reinforce the falsehood that Africans cannot manage strategic and complex institutions.

“The other false that must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves is the idea that Africans are inherently corrupt. Since his appointment as Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin has been removing African managers in SOEs in favour of non-African male, some even less qualified or less experienced compared to the removed African managers,” said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary Irvin Jim said that de Ruyter’s appointment did not do anything to aide transformation in the country and that the union regarded the appointment as “nothing less than a provocation”.

“This constitutes a setback when it comes to the transformation agenda in the country. This is an insult to blacks and Africans in this country that to date in this country since the democratic breakthrough we do not have competent black women and black Africans who can occupy such a position,” Jim said.

Democratic Alliance Chief Whip in Parliament Natasha Mazzone said that de Ruyter had a mammoth task ahead of him and said that he should use his experience to set Eskom on the right course to recover.

“De Ruyter has an unenviable task ahead of him and his priorities should include stabilising Eskom’s mammoth mountain of debt as well as ensuring a secure electricity grid for the nation.

“Of course, the only way we can truly achieve an efficient Eskom and an energy secure South Africa is when we break the utility’s monopoly over the energy sector as set out in the DA’s Cheaper Electricity Bill,” said Mazzone.

She added that de Ruyter should remain independent and beyond reproach in his capacity as Eskom CEO and that the DA would “keep a close eye on the developments at Eskom under his leadership” in the hope that he will always act in the best interest of Eskom and the public.

Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi, the IFP’s spokesperson on Public Enterprises, said that although de Ruyter will only officially begin his term on January 15 2020 he should “make very good use of the following month in order to familiarise himself with Eskom”.

“There is very little time to turn things around at the ailing parastatal, de Ruyter must hit the ground running,” Inkosi Buthelezi said.

Amongst some of the key issues that Inkosi Buthelezi said de Ruyter should focus on was building bridges with all stakeholders, decrease debt and reign in unpaid bills, renew or advertise contracts and strengthen supply chain management and tender procurement and financial controls.

Government unveils Eskom rescue plan

By Lameez Omarjee and Jan Cronje for Fin24

Eskom is aiming to have completed the unbundling of its generation, transmission and distribution operations by December 2022, according to a new policy roadmap published by Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.

Here is what you need to know:

‘Cost-effective power’

Gordhan repeatedly returned to the point that South Africans deserve cost-effective electricity, which Eskom is not providing at the moment. The fact that tariffs have increased by 500% over the past decade – without an associated boost in generating capacity – has put the economy under strain, and is not sustainable.

Eskom must be restructured to survive

The plan to split Eskom into three parts – generation, transmission and distribution – is going ahead. Of the three, the transmission entity will be spun out first, around March 2020.

All three entities will remain functional subsidiaries of a larger Eskom holding company.

The minister said on Tuesday that monopolies were by their nature wasteful. A large part of the restructuring plan deals with increasing competition and competitiveness within the utility to eliminate waste and inefficiencies.

In the generation space, the plan proposes that Eskom retain its existing generation fleet and each power station concludes a power purchase agreement with the transmission entity. Eskom will also be permitted to build its own renewable energy generation.

There will not be much focus on unbundling the distribution arm in the near future, due to its complexity. Municipalities currently play a key part in selling on electricity to consumers at a markup. “There is a bit more study that we need to do,” he said.

UCT professor Anton Eberhard, a member of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s task team on Eskom, tweeted that the establishment of a separate electricity transmission company would be transformational by creating a transparent platform to buying competitively priced electricity.

Cost savings

Eskom has only been functioning in recent times due to lifelines from the state, as it does not make enough revenue from selling electricity to cover the cost of the interest on its debt. Treasury in February allocated Eskom R23bn each year for the next three years for a total of R69bn. The National Assembly, meanwhile, recently agreed to a special appropriation to grant Eskom R59bn over the next two years – over and above the allocated R69bn – to pay interest on debt.

To save costs, Eskom would be reviewing coal contracts, and government intends to meet with suppliers to review the cost structure, returns and fair price of coal.

Other measures include a review of employee benefits and alternatives to retrenchment, consequences for non-payment of electricity to recoup some of the R25bn it is owed by municipalities, talks with the energy regulator about pricing, and new procurement approach. The financial turnaround also includes a review of independent power producer contracts, and the disposal of non-core assets to raise cash.

State capture

The minister said that the damage caused by state capture was “huge” and “systemic”. Skilled people were “chased out” the company. All these factors had a negative impact on Eskom’s finances, he told journalists. He added that “‘trolls’ would claim that Eskom was to be privatised, but said this was ‘fake news'”.

Just transition

The plan acknowledges the need for a sustainable approach to be adopted for workers and communities impacted by the decommissioning of coal power stations. Alternative economic developments must be considered for affected communities and the state will be obligated to make sure affected communities can adapt to new opportunities. Gordhan said that labour unions and affected stakeholders are being engaged to understand the importance of changes to Eskom’s future structure.

New CEO

Eskom has been without a permanent CEO since May 2019, when Phakamani Hadebe announced his sudden resignation due to the ‘unimaginable demands’ impacting his health.

Despite speculation that he might, Gordhan did not announce a new chief executive, saying the utility’s new head would be announced next week. This would also be accompanied by board and management changes to account for Eskom’s changed structures.

“We have a bright future for Eskom. It still has a few clouds around it now,” Gordhan said.

WeWork forces founder forced to step down

Source: BBC

Adam Neumann led WeWork, the property firm he co-founded in 2010, to become a global juggernaut and a symbol for office cool.

The company has more than 500 locations in 29 countries and as recently as August, had viewed Mr Neumann as central to its fortunes.

But on Tuesday, WeWork announced that he would step down as chief executive and relinquish significant control over the company, after the firm’s plans to sell shares publicly ran into trouble.

It marks a startling fall from grace for the ambitious 40-year-old billionaire.

So what’s his story?

From kibbutz to co-working
Born in Israel, Mr Neumann served in the Israeli Navy before moving to New York to “get a great job, have tons of fun and make a lot of money”, as he put it in a 2017 TechCrunch interview.

He enrolled at Baruch College at the City University of New York in 2002, but dropped out just shy of graduation to go into business.

One of his early ventures was a baby clothing company that evolved into the luxury Egg Baby brand.

Later, he and business partner Miguel McKelvey, an architect, renovated an office space and sublet the property. They sold the business but the idea grew into WeWork.

In interviews, Mr Neumann – who finally got his degree in 2017 – has tied WeWork’s origin story to his own, linking his itinerant childhood and time spent living on a kibbutz to WeWork’s emphasis on communal working.

He told Israeli newspaper Haaretz in 2017 he sometimes even refers to WeWork as “Kibbutz 2.0”.

Easy money
Mr Neumann’s colourful personality once charmed investors, including Japanese investment giant Softbank, a major backer of WeWork.

Softbank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son reportedly worked out the terms of one of its investment rounds during a car ride, after a 12-minute tour of WeWork’s New York offices.

Softbank’s investments helped the company reach a peak valuation of about $47bn (£37.7bn) despite steep, ongoing losses – a mismatch that has drawn repeated questions.

Mr Neumann attempted to address that puzzle, telling Forbes in 2017: “Our valuation and size today are much more based on our energy and spirituality than it is on a multiple of revenue.”

Is WeWork really worth nearly $50bn?

Blurred lines
WeWork’s growth made Mr Neumann a billionaire, with an estimated net worth of $2.2bn, according to Forbes.

His glamorous personal life – his wife Rebekah is the cousin of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, while his sister Adi is a former model who was once a Miss Teen Israel – contributed to the buzz around the company.

But the mixing of work and pleasure – which had been a key element of WeWork’s culture – became a problem as the firm set out plans to go public.

Potential investors questioned the links between Mr Neumann’s personal finances and WeWork, as well as his decision to expand WeWork into areas of personal interest, such as surfing and a school.

They also raised questions about his judgment amid complaints about his hard-partying ways.

Magic fades
WeWork tried to respond to those concerns. Among other steps Mr Neumann returned $5.9m in stock he received for selling WeWork the trademark “We”.

But even the announcement on Tuesday that Mr Neumann would step aside and reduce his voting power failed to quell questions about WeWork’s long-term prospects.

Critics have long said WeWork was little more than a typical real estate company, and its shaky finances had been obscured by Mr Neumann’s personal style.

Source: IOL

Retail group Massmart said on Monday chief executive officer Guy Hayward would step down before year-end.

“After almost 20 years in the business, the past five of which have been as chief executive officer, Guy Hayward has informed the board of his decision to step down from his role before the end of 2019,” it said in a statement.

The exact timing of Hayward’s exit was still to be confirmed as he and the board embarked on the process of ensuring a seamless transition, Massmart said. The process to appoint his successor was underway and the board would make further announcements in due course.

It said Hayward had guided the company, which owns local brands such as Game, Makro, Builders Warehouse and CBW, through “exceedingly challenging market conditions” and had worked to position the business for future growth.

“Under his leadership we have seen the introduction of Value Added Services, the development of a shared group logistics service, and the implementation of competitive online offerings in Makro, Game and Builders Warehouse,” said the company.

“Massmart has an experienced executive management team, who along with Guy’s successor will continue to focus on the improvement of Massmart’s high-volume, low-expense business model that saves our customers money so that they can live better.”

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. You should be able to manage and secure your company data, as it is the most valuable thing. If you need some help managing your business data, make use of RadiusBridge business reporting software.

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 

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