The bottom line: Where have all the bosses gone?

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COMPANY COMMENT

The bottom line: Where have all the bosses gone?

Alarming walkouts at Grand Parade and Novus

BusinessLIVE reporters

What’s raining on Grand Parade? 
The throne is once again vacant at Grand Parade Investments (GPI), the Cape Town-based empowerment company in the throes of hastily rolling out Burger King outlets in South Africa.
On Wednesday Tasneem Karriem resigned as CEO and executive director of GPI with immediate effect – with no reasons given for the sudden departure. Karriem, a chartered accountant, was appointed an executive director of GPI in September 2016 but was only appointed CEO in July last year.Karriem succeeded Alan Keet (another number cruncher) who endured a few years in the role of CEO before being put in charge of GPI’s food division in March 2016. Keet’s tenure at the food division was alarmingly abridged, and by July he was replaced by GPI stalwart and former financial director Dylan Pienaar – who lasted only a few months at the head of the food portfolio before resigning in November last year.
The resignation of Karriem means that GPI prime mover and executive chairman Hassen Adams assumes the role of acting CEO “until a suitable replacement has been appointed”. Adams has been the one constant at GPI for the past two decades – and having experienced hands on the tiller will be reassuring. But shareholders may fret that fresh eyes and different perspectives are needed at GPI to ensure the company can quickly close the huge discount that its share price offers on the underlying intrinsic value of the investments.
Ultimately, strong stomachs will be needed to digest the loss of key executives at this critical juncture – especially as Burger King nears its stipulated roll-out target.Is there something unprintable going on at Novus?It looks as though things at Novus Holdings continue to be in a state of flux. The printing and manufacturing group has just announced the resignation of its company secretary. This means it is set to appoint the fourth company secretary in three years, which may be a record for a JSE-listed company. It will do little to steady the nerves of shareholders who’ve looked on as the share price moved steadily weaker for most of its comparatively brief existence as a listed entity.For the new shareholders, who picked up Novus after Media24 and Naspers were forced to unbundle their controlling stake during 2017, the collapse in the share price is not quite so traumatic. Many of these shareholders got the shares at below R7. They will be hoping that just some things at Novus go according to plan and they will likely be able to cope with the earnings fallout from the loss of a chunk of the Media24 printing contract. They may even be able to deal with the disappointing performance from the tissue and labelling businesses.
Of course if things come right these relatively new shareholders will score attractive returns. Unfortunately, the resignation of the third company secretary, Marlene McConnell, in as many years indicates that the management stability needed for things to come right is missing.
McConnell’s departure comes just one month after the resignation of Edrich Fivaz, the chief financial officer. Fivaz had only been in the job 17 months. At the time group CEO Keith Vroon said that while the board was disappointed with Fivaz’s resignation it did not believe this would adversely affect the business, “due to the depth in our leadership team and our ability to attract talent”. Still no news on that front.

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