Comair in board reshuffle to please shareholders

Comair in board reshuffle to please shareholders
CAPE TOWN - Comair, South Africa’s only listed airline, moved to address corporate governance concerns among its shareholders yesterday by announcing four new directors to its board, an independent lead director, a new company secretary and a new chief information officer.

The new appointments follow a shake-up that saw eight long-serving directors resign last year, after questions were raised at the annual general meeting at the end of last October, including by 27percent shareholder Bidvest, about the independence of long serving board members.

The share price closed 2.92percent higher at R2.92 on the JSE yesterday, but the price is still well off the R5.19 that it was trading at a year ago. Comair has a 72-year record of profitability.

The new board appointments also follow recent executive changes - on December 16, joint chief executive (CEO) Wrenelle Stander became Group CEO of Comair, while joint CEO Glenn Orsmond became CEO of the Airlines division.

At the October annual meeting, Lindsay Ralphs, who is also CEO of Bidvest, replaced Pieter van Hoven, who had been on the board for 46 years, as chairperson. Ralphs told shareholders at the meeting that the issue of the long-standing board members was on his agenda.

Captain Colin Jordaan, former SAA Flight Operations general manager and former South African Civil Aviation Authority director; Nompumelelo Madisa, CEO designate of Bidvest Group; Farzanah Mall, 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, were appointed to the board.

Naran Maharajh, the chairperson of the audit committee and an independent non-executive director, was appointed lead independent non-executive director.

Kim Gorringe, with more than 30 years in regulatory and legal affairs, risk management and stakeholder engagement in aviation, and currently Comair’s executive managerC Governance, Risk and Compliance, becomes the new company secretary, from February 16.

Other appointments include Dr Avsharn Bachoo as the chief information officer, effective February 1. Dr Bachoo is a technology strategist.

Comair’s net profit shot up to R896.8million from R325.6m in the year to June 2019, due mainly to a R1.1billion settlement from SAA, from a market abuse claim lodged by Comair in 2005, which the national carrier undertook to pay over 3.5 years.

Excluding this amount, Comair’s net profit fell to R86m from R471m.