Sasol chair quits to avoid conflict of interest

Sipho Nkosi resigned as Sasol chairman to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest arising from an investment in an Australian gas explorer that could potentially supply the fuel and chemical manufacturer’s South African hub.

Nkosi stepped down on 10 November because “he was concerned that some of his business interests may be perceived to place him in conflict with the interests of Sasol,” even though he was confident of meeting compliance, the company said in a statement Monday. 

Sasol confirmed the issue referred to Perth-based Kinetiko Energy, “There is no formal commercial arrangement in place between Sasol and Kinetiko, and it was agreed that for as long as that remains, any potential conflict could have been managed effectively through disclosure and recusal,” it said in a reply to questions.

Kinetiko secured A$6.5 million ($4.1 million) in funding from investment company Talent10, according to a 4 September announcement. Nkosi is Talent10’s chairman.

The Australian gas explorer, which focuses on coal bed methane, has a block located on the border of Sasol’s Secunda facility and flagged the “potential to supply that plant via pipeline from the fields in that block,” it said in its latest annual report.

Sasol CEO Fleetwood Grobler said in August that discovery by Kinetiko could provide gas supply and that the companies were engaging over potential options.   

Talent10 has backed independent film production and gaming companies and has a portfolio of companies in excess of $1 billion, according to a website for the firm.

A Kinetiko spokesperson declined to comment. Talent10 didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Nkosi is on several boards and was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year to head a team tasked with removing restrictions that stifle business. He was named Sasol chairman in 2019.