Peter Staude’s retirement as CEO of sugar producer Tongaat Hulett is presumably not a moment too soon for some analysts, including Investec’s Anthony Geard. Geard garnered a truckload of attention when he wrote in a June research note, following the publication of Tongaat’s "appalling" full-year results, that Staude’s departure from the company was long overdue. The note led to Investec apologising to Staude for any embarrassment caused, citing their "long and fruitful relationship". Geard argued that Staude, who has been Tongaat’s CEO since 2002, should step aside given Tongaat’s "painfully slow pace of unlocking value", having prevailed over consistently declining returns that culminated in a 37% slide in headline earnings for the 12 months to end-March. Well, that moment is upon Tongaat, but the company’s problems may be bigger than its CEO given that no successor has been lined up. This is a pretty big oversight: Staude is retiring given his age – 65 – which the Tongaat board sh...

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