South Africa: New Eskom CEO Is No Stranger to Turnaround Projects

Medupi Power Station coal yard in 2014.

After missing at least three self-imposed deadlines, four senior cabinet ministers finally settled on the appointment of Nampak chief executive officer Andre de Ruyter as Eskom's thirteenth (13th) boss since 2009. His first task will be to restore the integrity of the electricity generation infrastructure to eliminate load shedding. While Nampak is only a fraction the size of Eskom, De Ruyter is certainly no stranger to turnaround challenges.

Andre de Ruyter was appointed CEO of Nampak in April 2014 and inherited a 'dogs breakfast' of a company that had expanded into Nigeria and Angola, incurring massive dollar-based debt ahead of a collapse in the price of oil, on which these countries relied. This left Nampak with a net debt ratio of 73% in 2014.

Under his watch the diversified packaging company has not shot the lights out. The share price has slumped 84% over the past five years to R7.35, well off the R42 it was when De Ruyter took the reins.

To be fair, he could not have joined the company at a worse time. Aside from the fact that Nampak's home market of South Africa has experienced flat growth for the past 10 years, a year after he...

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