CAPE TOWN – PPC has appointed Roland van Wijnen as chief executive (CEO), South Africa’s biggest cement maker announced yesterday.
Afrifocus Securities analyst Tinashe Kambadza said it looked like a good new appointment. Van Wijnen had worked at the biggest cement producer in the world for 17 years, he was an engineer and had also been involved in some major deals for LafargeHolcim.
“PPC has had some issues with their chief executive appointments over the past few years and prior to Johan Claassen, but it looks like they have done their due diligence on this one, given that PPC is facing difficulties in its South African and African markets. The proof will be in the pudding,” said Kambadza.
The share price gained 1.05percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R4.80.
PPC and other building material suppliers have been struggling against a slump in construction that has seen some of the largest contractors filing for business rescue.
PPC yesterday also delayed the announcement of its annual results until tomorrow as auditors were still considering fair value judgments of Zimbabwean assets that could range between R0 and R50million. Last week PPC said its headline earnings per share were expected to increase by between 33 and 53percent, to between 20c and 23c, compared with the 15c achieved for the prior comparable period ended March 31, 2018.
The search for a new CEO to succeed Johan Claassen started last November, when he announced that he was taking early retirement, PPC chairperson Jabu Moleketi said yesterday. “As soon as Johan decided to retire, the board began a process to identify a high calibre candidate, with extensive experience in leading cement companies in cyclical downturns and challenging markets,” he added.
Claassen, who was appointed CEO in February last year after serving several months as the interim CEO, had been part of PPC’s executive team since January 2013.
“We are pleased to have secured Roland, a Dutch national, whose listed company experience and exposure to international global best practice will broaden the management practices of PPC. He has a detailed knowledge of the cement sector. He is up-to-speed with our strategic imperatives and will advance the process without any delays,” Moleketi said.
Van Wijnen was with LafargeHolcim for 17 years where he held various senior roles. As CEO of the Philippines business, a public company, much the same size as PPC, he dealt with similar challenges to those that PPC is facing, Moleketi said. During his time at Holcim, Philippines implemented a new retail business model and a growth strategy to best serve customers and increase profitability.
Having done some work for Holcim in South Africa before the company moved out of the region, Van Wijnen is familiar with the country. He has signed a four-year contract and is expected to take over from Claassen as soon as he has received a work permit.
* The reporter owns shares in PPC.