Mandla Gantsho steps into the hot Sasol seat

Mandla Gantsho has become one of the most powerful business personalities in the world after landing the job of chairing South African originated global petrochemicals giant Sasol.

That is no exaggeration given the fact that Sasol showed an arguably undervalued market cap of R317bn yesterday and turnover for the year ended June stood at R181bn. A view of Sasol’s geographical spread, covering Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, and its investment pipeline completes the picture.

Sasol announced yesterday that Gantsho will succeed Hixonia Nyasulu who has served as the chairperson of the Sasol board for the past five years. Gantsho’s ascend into the Sasol chairperson seat, after serving the Sasol board for 10 years, is significant in many ways.

The fact that Gantsho is black is significant and addresses a critical factor in the life of Sasol. Who will forget how Sasol earned the current crop of black executive and non executive directors. The company emerged with a bloody nose after the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) under the expired leadership of Brian Molefe accused it of refusing to transform in the way of black economic empowerment (BEE). Following that 2004 tiff which saw the PIC win by inserting a black woman, Imogen Mkhize, onto the Sasol board; the company made some transformational strides. These included brining on board Nyasula and other transformational moves.

As such it is difficult not to see the appointment of the highly capable Gantsho through that background. The relevance of this background is strengthened by recent PIC statements about the makeup of the Anglo American board.  The PIC has charged that the Anglo American board need to reflect the company’s emerging market exposure.Sasol Global Presence

In yesterday’s announcement Sasol said Nyasulu had decided to  step down after seven years on the Sasol board of directors, two as a non-executive director and five as the Sasol chairperson. She officially steps down as chairperson and director of Sasol at the company’s annual general meeting on 22 November 2013. Gantsho takes over immediately after.

Sasol said Gantsho’s appointment follows the Chairman Succession Planning process of the Board, overseen by the Nomination, Governance, Social and Ethics Committee. The process was driven by Prof Juergen Schrempp, the Lead Independent Director of Sasol.

The statement said the board has considered the fact that Gantsho had been a director of the company for 10 years and confirmed his independence.

About her departure Nyasulu said “It has always been my intention to serve as chairman for a period of five years and I am pleased the board’s considered approach to succession planning has made this possible. I would like to congratulate Mandla on his appointment and wish him well in his new role. Mandla is a highly respected board member and I am very pleased to hand-

over the chairmanship of this great company to so competent a director. These are exciting times for Sasol as the group executive committee, under David’s (Sasol CEO David Constable) sound leadership, shapes and designs the Sasol of the future.” A view of the latest Sasol financial report also released yesterday tells a story a sprawling energy and chemicals giant. Most notably Sasol has venture in a big way into North America seeking amongst other things shale gas. The company’s ventures into the Mozambican gas fields promises to be huge. In Sasol you have a truly global giant in the making.

Gantsho said “It is an honour to accept this appointment as chairman. I would like to thank Hixonia for her outstanding seven year contribution to Sasol. I am looking forward to serving this exciting company in a new capacity.”

Constable said “It’s been a great pleasure working with Hixonia. In addition to being a superb chairman, Hixonia’s warm and constructive leadership has been an inspiration to me. I wish Hixonia much success in the future and thank her for the years of guidance she has given to Sasol. I look forward to working with Mandla, in his new role as chairman, knowing his expertise and experience will be beneficial to Sasol and its stakeholders”.

The Sasol statement noted that Gantsho qualified as a chartered accountant in 1987 and is currently the chief executive of Africa Rising Capital. “He was the Vice President Operations: Infrastructure, Private Sector & Regional Integration of the African Development Bank from 2006 to 2009, and before that, the chief executive officer and managing director of the Development Bank of Southern Africa. He is also a director of Impala Platinum Holdings Limited and the South African Reserve Bank, and chairman of Ithala Development Finance Corporation”.

The statement added that Gantsho has served on the boards of several South African companies, including Group Five and AfroCentric Investment Corporation. “Dr Gantsho also served as a Commissioner of the Finance and Fiscal Commission, a body set up in terms of the South African Constitution to advise the South African parliament on intergovernmental fiscal transfers and the Myburgh Commission of Enquiry into the rapid depreciation of the rand”.

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