Comair appoints 4 new board members after old guard exits

Comair [JSE:COM] announced some strategic new appointments on Tuesday following a number of resignations, including of some long-serving directors, at the JSE-listed private airline operator.

Comair operates its own low-cost brand, kulula.com, as well as British Airways in South Africa, as part of a licence agreement.

Comair has now appointed four new directors to its board: an independent lead director, a new company secretary, as well as a new chief information officer (CIO).

The four new directors are Capt. Colin Jordaan, former general manager of flight operations at South African Airways (SAA) and former director of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA); Nompumelelo Madisa, CEO designate of Bidvest Group; Farzanah Mall, a chartered accountant, business advisory and management consulting specialist and strategist; and Tebogo Mekgoe, executive director of Orenda Advisory & Strategy and the head of the MBA Programme for the Henley Business School, Africa.

Naran Maharajh, the chair of the audit committee and an independent non-executive director, has been appointed in the place of Pieter Van Hoven as the lead independent non-executive director, with immediate effect.

Kim Gorringe is the new company secretary in the place of Derek Borer, effective from February 16, 2020. Gorringe has more than 30 years' experience in regulatory and legal affairs, risk management and stakeholder engagement in aviation and currently serves as Comair's executive manager: governance, risk and compliance.

Other executive appointments include the appointment of Avsharn Bachoo, as the chief information officer (CIO) effective February 1, 2020. Bachoo is a technology strategist specialising in digital transformation, software engineering, data analytics, machine learning, cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise architecture.

Comair has explained in the past that the number of directors who have stepped down in recent months is in line with the airline group's commitment to full compliance with the principles of the King IV report on corporate governance. This came after concerns were raised that the longstanding tenure of some directors "might" have led to a compromise of the independence of the board.

Already in August 2019, it was announced that Van Hoven decided to retire as chairperson of the board at the AGM at the end of October 2019, but that he would continue to serve on the board as an independent non-executive director. Van Hoven had been the chair of the board for about eight years.

Lindsay Ralphs, who is also the CEO of Bidvest, replaced Van Hoven as Comair chair at the group's AGM in 2019 and Van der Hoven remained on the board as a non-executive director. Ralphs was initially appointed as a non-executive director of Comair in July 2019.

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