SOUTH AFRICA – South African based sugar producer, Tongaat Hulett, has again postponed the release of its audited financial statement for the latest full year ended March 31 from the previously anticipated release date of October 31.

The firm said earlier this year that it would restate prior financial information after a formal review revealed accounting practices that required remedial action.

A forensic review by PricewaterhouseCoopers has been completed and the final report has been issued to law firm Bowman Gilfillan.

 The sugar producer who has been battling to restore investors’ confidence has stated it will update shareholders on a new release date on November 18.

Chairman Louis Von Zeuner said that the process of identifying the restatements had been thorough, with the right level of governance. “We are cognisant of the need to provide stakeholders with reliable financial information,” he said.

“The board, together with management, continues to relentlessly drive the turnaround plan with the preservation of shareholder value being the key priority,” he added.

Tongaat having operations in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, is also considering selling assets, raising capital through a share sale, or a combination of the two in order to reduce the group’s debt.

Tongaat said debt restructuring talks with South African and Mozambican creditors are progressing well, and that it is looking to conclude agreements as soon as reasonably possible.

In June the company unveiled plans of closing down its sugar company in Mafambisse, central Mozambique. The company has already halted the production of cane to mill sugar in 2020 and is currently sourcing the raw material from the previous crop season.

Last month the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) suspended Tongaat Hullet Zimbabwe’s subsidiary, Hippo Valley Estates Limited, from trading its shares on the local bourse.

According to the stock exchange, this follows the sugar giant’s failure to release its full year financial results who missed the June 30 deadline and also missed the extended deadline of July 31.

In addition to that, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed sugar producer has also secured a voluntary suspension of the listing of its shares on the Johannesburg and London Stock Exchanges, to cut costs and streamline its shareholding structure.

Tongaat-Hulett major board shake-up

Struggling sugar producer last month, announced a major board shake-up on switching out four directors and replacing its current chairperson Bahle Sibisi with Louis von Zeuner.

Von Zeuner, an independent non-executive director appointed to the group’s board in late 2018, assumed the role of chairman on October 1.

Sibisi stepped down from his position as chair, as well as director, on Sept 30 “having overseen the orderly transition of the board, including the appointment of new directors,” the group said in an update to shareholders.

Other directors who left on Sept 30 include, Rachel Kupara, Thandeka Mgoduso, Brand Pretorius and Tomaz Salomão.

The group announced the appointment of four independent non-executive directors i.e. Andile Sangqu, Linda De Beer, Jean Nel and Robin Goetzsche.

Sibisi stated that, “We are confident that Von Zeuner and new directors, together will bring new insights, and their contribution will strengthen board oversight as the company embarks on a path of restructuring its business and securing value for its stakeholders on a sustainable basis.”