Imperial Reorganizes to Create Vehicle, Logistics Divisions

  • South African company nominates a CEO for each business
  • Move part of CEO Lamberti’s effort to streamline operations

Imperial Holdings Ltd. is reorganizing its operations into two units, the latest stage of Chief Executive Officer Mark Lamberti’s efforts to streamline South Africa’s sixth-largest company by sales.

The logistics and vehicles divisions will each have its own CEO, while Lamberti will also be executive chairman of the vehicle business until the end of the year, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement on Friday. Marius Swanepoel will be CEO of the logistics unit from July 1, when the restructuring takes effect, and Chief Financial Officer Osman Arbee will become CEO of the vehicles unit on Jan. 1. He’ll be replaced as CFO by Mohammed Akoojee.

“The Imperial Holdings balance sheet is the glue that holds the two divisions together and supports their growth,” Lamberti said in e-mailed comments. “In the next few years, Imperial will guide the reorganization of the two divisions to ensure strategic clarity, co-ordination and optimisation.”

Efforts by Lamberti to simplify the company and sell assets in his two years at the helm have effectively split Imperial in two. The logistics operation ranges from pharmaceutical deliveries in Africa to barging on the Rhine, and the vehicles business includes importing, dealerships and rental operations in sub-Saharan Africa.

“It fits in with the strategy of focusing the group more narrowly,” Mark Hodgson, industrials analyst at Avior Capital, said by phone. “They are doing the right things.”

Imperial shares gained 2.2 percent to 150.50 rand by the close in Johannesburg, the highest since April 21. The stock has gained 26 percent this year, valuing the company at 31 billion rand ($2 billion).

The question of whether Imperial could be broken up into separate logistics and vehicles companies is an “obvious” one that’s been posed by analysts and investors, Lamberti said in an April interview, adding that he wasn’t yet prepared to respond.

A formal split would follow that of fellow South African conglomerate Bidvest Group Ltd., which spun off its foodservices unit and listed the company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Monday.

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