Over the last year, a few sudden and surprising chief executive changes have occurred, including at Naspers, Pick n Pay, and Nedbank.
2023 has been a challenging year for many South African companies because of slow economic growth caused by structural problems.
Load-shedding, Transnet’s railway and port issues, crime, political uncertainty, and business-unfriendly policies have halted economic progress.
High inflation, rising interest rates, global economic challenges, and the war in Ukraine exacerbated the situation.
Most trading updates were littered with terms like “challenging business environment”, “load-shedding”, and “uncertainty”.
South African consumers are under severe pressure, and local retailers, financial institutions, and many other companies are struggling.
The result was that chief executives faced tremendous pressure to show growth in a very difficult environment.
Unsurprisingly, there were many changes at the top level of South African companies. Some of these changes were expected, while others came as a surprise.
Here are a few of the significant chief executive changes announced in 2023.
Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk replaced
On 18 September, Naspers and Prosus informed shareholders that CEO Bob van Dijk stepped down. Ervin Tu assumed the role of interim CEO of Naspers and Prosus.
Pick n Pay CEO Pieter Boone replaced by Sean Summers
On 2 October, Pick n Pay announced that Pieter Boone stepped down as group CEO and was replaced by Sean Summers, who was Pick n Pay’s CEO between 1999 and 2006.
Nedbank CEO Mike Brown replaced by Jason Quinn
Nedbank appointed Absa financial director Jason Quinn as its new chief executive, replacing Mike Brown on 31 May 2024.
EOH CEO Stephen van Coller resigns
In October, EOH announced that Stephen van Coller would step down as chief executive and retire from the company’s board on 31 March 2024. A new CEO has not been announced yet.
Transnet CEO Portia Derby
In September, Transnet CEO Portia Derby and CFO Nonkululeko Dlamini resigned following pressure from business lobby groups, mining companies, and unions.
Amplats CEO Natascha Viljoen resigned
In February, Anglo American Platinum’s CEO, Natascha Viljoen, resigned after three years at the helm to join Newmont, the world’s No. 1 gold miner.
Transaction Capital CEO David Hurwitz gone
Transaction Capital CEO David Hurwitz stepped down as chief executive and all his board positions following the company’s poor performance.
Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson replaced by Jorge Mendes
Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson stepped down on 31 March 2023 and was replaced by former Vodacom executive Jorge Mendes.