Print’s not exactly charming, but will new faces fix Novus?

Business

THE BOTTOM LINE

Print’s not exactly charming, but will new faces fix Novus?

News of yet another senior executive’s resignation certainly won’t help settle shareholder nerves

Ann Crotty

Print and packaging group Novus has managed to drag its share price off the all-time low of R3.14 to which it had slumped in June but at just over R4 shareholders won’t be inclined to much celebration.
There’s little positive news on the horizon for this company. Not only is it dealing with the effect of the declining print media but to date its diversification strategy has not demonstrated much familiarity with the concept of capital allocation.Its tissue acquisition was a disaster as management poured more money into a hugely overpriced purchase. Fortunately that folly has now been reined in but so far there is little sign that a more coherent and profitable growth strategy is being pursued.
News of yet another senior executive’s resignation certainly won’t help settle shareholder nerves. Conrad Rademeyer, who heads the print division, has given notice and is expected to leave early next year. Rademeyer’s departure will add to the dominance of relatively new appointees at top management level.
The group has an acting CFO, who was appointed in early July, and Neil Birch was only formally appointed CEO from June 19. In a rather bizarre development Birch recently had to hand back about 20% of the share appreciation rights he was awarded in July. It seems he was allocated a chunk more than he should have been. It’s difficult to decide whether the excess allocation is more puzzling than the fact someone actually picked it up and reversed it. It must have caused some discomfort.
The appointment of former Brait executive Dennis Mack as nonexecutive director suggests Value Capital Partners’  directors are keen to keep a watchful eye on their investment. Value’s Anthony Ball is also ex-Brait.

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