Electrical engineer by training takes over at Sea Harvest

Felix Ratheb to take over one of South Africa’s largest hake companies

Sea Harvest Corporation has appointed Felix Ratheb to engineer the future of the subsidiary of broad based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) company Brimstone Investment Corporation.

The fishing company announced last week the appointment of Ratheb, who qualified as an electrical engineer from Wits University and topped up with an MBA, as CEO with effect from 1 January 2014.

Ratheb who currently serves as sales and marketing director comes to succeed George Bezuidenhout who led Sea Harvest through the buyout from Tiger Brands in 2008. That leveraged buyout positioned Sea Harvest as a one of the most empowered entities in the fishing sector and perhaps gave it wings. The group has also featured another prominent BBBEE investor, Kagiso Tiso Investment, as a shareholder.

Sea Harvest catches, processes and markets over 40 000 tons of Cape Hake both locally and internationally. A big portion of the catch is sold internationally with a global customer base.

The company said Ratheb will take over the day-to-day running of operations in October, succeeding George Bezuidenhout. “Bezuidenhout has decided to take an early retirement after being with Sea Harvest for 20 years. He has guided the company through trying times including the first phase of a leveraged buy-out. During the transition period, Bezuidenhout will work with Ratheb until the end of December after which he plans to play golf and spend time with his family”.

Ratheb has worked at Sea Harvest for over 10 years, where he started as a Commercial Manager working very closely with the fleet and factory operations. He then moved on to take over all the Sales, Marketing and Commercial activities of the Company which he has been doing for the past seven years. Additionally, he was an Executive Director on the board.

Fred Robertson, Executive Chairman of Brimstone Investment Corporation said “Felix Ratheb was a key member of the initial management team who participated in the buy-out of Sea Harvest from Tiger Brands. His performance to date has been exemplary. When George Bezuidenhout decided to hand over the baton to Felix Ratheb, the entire Board was 100% behind the appointment. We wish him the best of luck in his new role”.

 Positioned as the largest employer on the West Coast, Sea Harvest is precious asset to a number of stakeholders. The business seems to have matured out of the leveraged buyout as judged from reports issued by the JSE listed Brimstone.

Brimstone’s 2012 annual report spots the following comments about Sea Harvest. Sales increased encouragingly by 6 .5% exceeding the R1 billion mark for the first time in the company’s history.

Earning (Ebitda), was however 18 .5% lower than the comparative period at R123 million. External debt was reduced by 12 .1% to R217 million and cash on hand increased by 88 .5% to R147 million.

It is expected that a significant portion of sea Harvest’s longer term debt will be retired over the next 18 months. Capital expenditure is expected to remain stable for the foreseeable future. The weaker exchange rate and recovering global demand for hake should result in an improved performance in 2013, provided catch rates remain stable”.

 In its 2013 first half report Brimstone said “Sea Harvest’s total allowable catch for hake increased by 7.8% in 2013. Catches during the period were erratic with catch rates marginally down on the comparative period.

However revenue increased driven by a higher value product mix, price increases across all geographies, and a weaker Rand exchange rate. Local seafood business volumes increased significantly while local retail reported stable volumes and firm prices. Demand for Cape Hake remains strong both locally and internationally”.




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