SOUTH AFRICA – Tongaat Hulett, the JSE-listed sugar producer and property developer, has announced the appointment of the current Chief Financial Officer, Rob Aitken, as interim CEO.

Rob will assume the role effective March 1, following the departure of CEO Dan Marokane, who has been appointed as the CEO of State-owned power utility Eskom. 

Dan Marokane will collaborate with the Tongaat Hulett team and business rescue practitioners until the end of February 2024 to ensure a seamless handover. The timing aligns with the adoption of the Vision business rescue plan and the ongoing planning for its implementation.  

Dan Marokane, integral to Tongaat Hulett’s board and executive team since 2018, has played a crucial role in supporting the business rescue practitioners throughout the process. 

Rob Aitken, the current CFO, has been instrumental in Tongaat Hulett’s turnaround and has provided vital support to the business rescue practitioners since October 2022. Both Dan and Rob have collaborated closely during the entire turnaround journey, demonstrating commitment and leadership in challenging times. 

As Tongaat Hulett undergoes a pivotal leadership transition, there are significant developments on the business rescue front. After an extensive process, the financially distressed sugar producer and property developer is poised for resolution through acquisition by Vision Partners. 

Vision Partners, a consortium comprising Guma Agri & Food Security Group, Remogogoo Investments of Zimbabwe, the Terris Fund, and Pakistani sugar giant Almoiz, has submitted a comprehensive business rescue plan.  

The plan involves acquiring Lender Group claims and security totaling approximately R8 billion, with about R4.1 billion of these claims to be converted into new equity in Tongaat Hulett Limited. 

Under the proposed agreement, Vision Partners is set to secure a 97.3% ownership stake in Tongaat Hulett, while existing shareholders will retain a 2.7% interest following the debt-to-equity conversion.  

This marks a significant development in Tongaat Hulett’s journey, potentially steering it away from liquidation, which could have had adverse effects on employees, farmers, and unsecured creditors. 

The acquisition by Vision Partners comes after a protracted and contested process, marked by multiple court appearances and the resolution of a threat to interdict the process by RCL Foods, owner of Selati Sugar, over unpaid levies.  

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