SOUTH AFRICA – Tongaat Hulett, South Africa’s biggest sugar group, has appointed Dan Marakone, as acting CEO, following the recent resignation of Gavin Hudson.

Hudson was appointed to help lead Tongaat’s turnaround after years of business turmoil where the company was riddled with debt that threatened its survival.

The crippling debt followed a host of alleged fraudulent accounting irregularities by the previous board which took place between 2015 and 2018.

His was to conduct a comprehensive review of the finances which were reported to be criminally deceptive.

Hudson and his team managed to make some progress and reduce the debt from a staggering R11.7 billion (US$666.9M) to R6.5 billion (US$370.5M) before the onset of COVID-19, civil unrest and the recent floods in Kwa-Zulu Natal which impinged on the team’s turnaround efforts.

After four years at the helm of the sugar company, Hudson threw in the towel last week while the company was in the midst of a business rescue process.

He handed in his resignation shortly after and is scheduled to leave the company by the end of February.

Dan Marokane an Executive Director stepped in to fill the role and is expected to take over as acting CEO on March 1st.

Marokane joined the company back in 2018 as chief of business transformation officer, part of Hudson’s turnaround team, and then appointed as executive director in 2019, according to a statement released by Tongaat Hulett.

He holds a BSc in Chemical Engineering, an MSc in Petroleum Engineering, and an MBA degree and has worked in various executive roles across the oil and gas, power, and agro-processing industries over the past 20 years.

He was also previously the chairman of Hippo Valley Estates Limited, a Zimbabwean subsidiary of Tongaat Hulett.

He takes charge at a time when business rescue practitioners (BRPs) are currently working on a highly anticipated business rescue plan which is anticipated at the end of February.

The company intends to leverage his expertise and familiarity with the field and has tasked him with stewarding a difficult period for the sugar giant.

“The company acknowledges his valuable contribution to Tongaat Hulett, most notably his impact on the internal cashflow optimization programmes and the management of the company’s asset disposals,” Tongaat said.

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