S. Africa Government Reappoints Myeni SAA Chairwoman

  • New board a ‘draw’ between Zuma and Gordhan, Nomura says
  • Gordhan to meet with board to provide direction, cabinet says

The South African government reappointed Dudu Myeni as the chairwoman of the nation’s struggling airline for one year while naming new non-executive members to the board after months of wrangling between the National Treasury and the carrier.

While Myeni, a former schoolteacher who also heads President Jacob Zuma’s charitable foundation, remained, the new appointments meet Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s demand for a strengthened board before he would sign loan guarantees for loss-making South African Airways.

It “looks like a draw,” Peter Attard Montalto, Nomura International Plc’s senior emerging-markets strategist, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “It’s a win for Zuma on getting Myeni reappointed, but a win for National Treasury in strengthening the board.”

Tryphosa Ramano, a former chief financial officer at the airline and currently chief financial officer of cement company PPC Ltd., was appointed deputy chairwoman and non-executive director, the cabinet said in an e-mailed statement on Friday. The cabinet named 10 more non-executive directors, including Investec Asset Management economist and strategist, Nazmeera Moola, and Thandeka Mgoduso, who has also served on the Reserve Bank’s board.

There are some “very knowledgeable people with great expertise and integrity” on the new board, Gordhan said Friday in a televised interview with the South African Broadcasting Corp.

SAA last reported a full-year profit in 2011 and has had seven acting or permanent CEOs in less than four years. Instability at the airline has accelerated in the past year as a raft of senior management departed and the airline was embroiled in controversial deals ranging from Myeni’s attempts to renege on a leasing contract with Airbus Group SE, to the appointment of a little-known financial adviser to source funding on its behalf. Both moves were later reversed.

The cabinet announced two weeks ago plans for Zuma to lead a new panel to oversee all state-owned companies -- a role previously delegated to Gordhan and other ministers. This week, money manager Futuregrowth and Denmark’s Jyske Bank AS said they will stop lending to some South African state-owned companies due to concerns about governance at the entities.

Gordhan will meet with the new board “to provide direction from a shareholder perspective,” the cabinet said.

(Government corrects chairwoman’s term in first paragraph.)
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