South African Airways Names CFO to Replace Suspended Nhantsi

(Bloomberg) -- South African Airways appointed Old Mutual Plc veteran Bob Head as interim chief financial officer to replace the suspended Phumeza Nhantsi as the embattled state carrier strives to turn around its fortunes.

The former head of insurer Old Mutual’s southern Africa operations was one of seven appointments announced by SAA Thursday. Under new Chief Executive Officer Vuyani Jarana, the airline has set a three-year recovery plan, which includes cutting routes, flights and planes, having failed to make a profit since 2011.

Head will fill the gap left by Nhantsi, who is facing a disciplinary hearing alongside ex-CEO Musa Zwane following unspecified allegations made against them. Their departures came as new President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to clean up state-owned entities that have been embroiled in allegations of mismanagement and corruption. He’s also approved new boards at utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. and defense company Denel SOC Ltd.

In a report released last month, Auditor General Kimi Makwetu said that under Zwane and Nhantsi, SAA failed to properly value assets or correctly record irregular or wasteful expenditure. He concluded that SAA made a net loss of about 5.6 billion rand ($466 million) in the year through March 2017, and may not be able to operate as a going concern.

The other SAA hires include African Bank Ltd.’s Hendus Venter, who takes on the role of chief information officer. Pumla Luhabe joined as chief commercial officer in February, according to SAA, while heads of legal affairs and procurement have also been drafted.

South African labor union Solidarity said earlier on Thursday it would approach the High Court to have SAA placed under administration. CEO Jarana said in March the cash-strapped carrier will probably break even in 2020.

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