Roger Jardine has bowed out from leading the largest construction company in the country, Aveng, in what appears to be the first indirect executive victim of the public’s backlash on the construction sector tender rigging scandal.
While Jardine who was appointed CEO of Aveng five years ago was not involved in the tender rigging activity, he cites the saga prominently ijn his explanation of the resignation.
Aveng admitted guilt in the tender rigging process by mainstream construction firms which have caused loud and wide public rage. Aveng attracted a R306m settlement for its part in the scandal. Observers say the contractors escaped with a slap on the wrist with some calling for criminal prosecution of individual perpetrators.
In a statement released today Aveng said Jardine tendered his resignation as CEO with effect from the 31st of August 2013. In effect this means Jardine gave a two weeks resignation notice to the public. This is odd for a listed company. JSE listed giants like Aveng, Anglo, Telkom etc tend to shy away from abrupt resignations for fear of upsetting the markets. For example resignations of immediate past CEO’s of Anglo and Telkom; Cynthia Carroll and Pinky Moholi respectively, came with almost six months notices.
Jardine’s abrupt resignation may suggest that all was not well within Aveng’s corridors of power. For his part, Jardine has issued the loudest of condemnations of tender rigging practices amongst his peers. He issued strong statements condemning the act and promising to clean up as far back as 2011 when other executives were on the defensive.
The Aveng statement said Jardine recently informed the Aveng Board that with the Competition Commission’s investigation into the construction industry now finalised, he had decided that this was an appropriate point for him to step down.
Jardine was quoted in the statement saying “It has been a privilege working for an organisation that is at the core of infrastructure development. However, the Competition Commission’s investigation process has been personally very taxing, particularly as I have had to deal with matters that occurred before my appointment and of which I had no personal knowledge”.
While the first of the Competition Commission issues came to our attention shortly after I joined Aveng five years ago, I had a duty as CEO to see the group through this process. The settlement agreement confirmed by the Competition Tribunal last month provides a fresh platform for the group to move forward and to build on the culture of ethical corporate behaviour that we have worked so hard to implement. I feel it is now an appropriate time to move on.”
Te statement added that while the performance of Aveng’s South African Construction business has been a major disappointment, Jardine said the rest of the group’s business is holding its own under very difficult market conditions.
Aveng Chairman Angus Band thanked Jardine for his commitment in steering the group through one of the most difficult periods the industry has faced and wished him well in his future endeavours. “Roger has played a primary role in managing the very complex regulatory process with the Competition Commission, as well as dealing with the consequent issues that arose as a result of the investigation. He has also had to manage the group in the midst of material economic uncertainty, which placed the sector as a whole under major pressure. Many of the changes introduced by Roger are now embedded in the group and will continue to have a positive impact on Aveng well into the future.”
The statement added that the nominations Committee of the Board will commence the process to appoint a permanent CEO. Kobus Verster will assume the role of Acting CEO. Verster joined Aveng as Financial Director in September 2010 and has served on all of the group’s subsidiary boards over the past three years, affording him insight into the operations, opportunities and constraints of the various group businesses.