PPC needs a more commercial board: Gordhan - CNBC Africa

PPC needs a more commercial board: Gordhan

Southern Africa

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Gordhan resigned as chief executive of PPC last week. PHOTO: DestinyMan

Gordhan, who resigned as chief executive last week, also stated that the company’s board has not been particularly helpful in implementing its current strategy.

(READ MORE: Ketso Gordhan resigns as PPC’s CEO)

“We spend very little time talking about the business. Tim Ross is probably one of the most valuable board members, he’s the chair of the audit committee and I’m sure he’ll tell you about a number of board meetings where the business was not discussed,” Gordhan told CNBC Africa.

“I have been partnered by Paul Stuiver, the former CEO. Paul and I are exactly on the same page, which is that the board has not been particularly helpful in getting a very complex strategy implemented. What we need is a more commercial board and maybe a more robust board, where you debate these issues.”

According to Gordhan, this does not mean a complete overhaul of the current board but rather one or two changes.

“What we’re saying is let’s get a couple of people on the board who can guide the strategy, question the strategy [and] add real value. If we can find two or three people who can do that, there is nothing that would make me happier than to go back. I remain as committed as I have been,” he said.

(READ MORECould Gordhan’s return plan to PPC materialise?)

Following a statement by PPC on 22 September 2014 regarding Gordhan’s sudden resignation, he stated that he had heard from a number of PPC’s shareholders and that he believes it is in the interest of these stakeholders that he provide clarity on the reasons for his resignation.

“It was about a decision I had made to exit a senior executive from the business. I’m well within my authority levels to make that decision but I’m not the kind of person that makes an important decision without, at least, talking to the board so I talked to the board,” said Gordhan.

“The board then extended its involvement to the point where it interfered with my ability to make an executive decision, and said I can’t.”


He further stated that the board inappropriately involved itself in operational and personnel matters, that creating a values-driven organisation is key to PPC’s success and that the board’s actions put PPC’s strategy execution, including potential shareholder value, at risk.

“[The exco member] agreed with the strategy but had issues with a number of things and constantly undermined my work. You can deal with that up to a point. It’s about what is best for the business,” Gordhan explained.

“We’re fighting on two fronts. We’ve got to defend our position in South Africa and we’ve got to raise the capital and debt to fund what is quite a big expansion programme. What you need most is a very supportive team, at the exco level, which we didn’t have and a very supportive board.”

(READ MORE: PPC upbeat over African expansion)

Gordhan also indicated that the point of this is not so much about who the individual may be, but rather about the principle of governance.

“I’m trying to make this about what is in the best interest of the company. I’m all about the company and I’m all about the shareholders and I’m saying we have a vision and we want to achieve that,” he said.

“I know for a fact that workers in PPC are genuinely unhappy. I’m sure they will communicate that to the board and shareholders in due course.”

[DATA PPC:PPC]’s biggest shareholders in South Africa include the Public Investment Corporation, Sanlam, Old Mutual and Allan Gray.

“I’ve spoken to many of them and I’m meeting all of them in the next few days. I don’t think we’ve seen much shareholder activism in South Africa and I would like a situation where shareholders, the board and myself can have, in typical South African style, a negotiated settlement,” Gordhan said.

“We had started a process at PPC with our employees which is quite ground-breaking. The reason I’m fighting to get the job back is I’m passionate about that objective, that job is undone.”