Tongaat Hulett says goodbye to more directors

The directors of JSE-listed sugar producer Tongaat Hulett on Monday announced some changes to the board.

Two independent non-executive directors, Stephen Beesley and Fatima Daniels stepped down from their positions as directors.

Fin24 reported in September last year of a major board shake up announced by the struggling sugar producer at the time. Four directors were "switched out" and the then chair Bahle Sibisi was replaced by Louis von Zeuner, who was an independent non-executive director at the time.

The directors who left at the end of September last year were Rachel Kupara; Thandeka Mgoduso; Brand Pretorius and Tomaz Salomão. The four independent non-executive directors appointed at the time were Andile Sangqu; Linda De Beer; Jean Nel and Robin Goetzsche.

Towards the end of November last year Fin24 reported that Tongaat Hulett intended to institute civil claims against former top executives, including its ex-CEO Peter Staude, this came after company received the results of a six-month forensic probe into its finances carried out by PwC. The report found that profits and assets had been overstated in earnings reports.

In June last year the board of Tongaat Hulett requested the suspension of its listing on the JSE "to protect shareholders" amid the investigation.

In December last year Fin24 reported that Tongaat Hulett faced material liquidity uncertainty, but that its board and management team were hopeful they could steer the business back to sustainability.

At its annual results presentation at the time the company said it has a target of reducing its debt by R8.1bn by March 2021.

It is also focussing on cost efficiencies, working capital improvement, interest savings and reduction in capex, which it expects will lead to a R3bn cash flow improvement and debt reduction. Strategic business partnerships relating to the milling and property operations, meanwhile, will aim to yield a further R1bn to R2bn.

In addition, there are initiatives in place to dispose of non-core assets, and announcements on this will be made in due course.

With the publishing of its 2019 financial statements, the board said it would request the JSE to lift the suspension of its shares "in due course".

In January this year Tongaat's shareholders gave it the greenlight to access new credit lines, which will help keep the company afloat for now.

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