Mteto Nyati new CEO at Altron.   Picture: SOWETAN
Mteto Nyati new CEO at Altron. Picture: SOWETAN

Mteto Nyati is the CEO of Altron.

BUSINESS DAY TV: Mteto Nyati is the new CE of the Altron Group, taking over from Robbie Venter. He comes into the group at a difficult time in the midst of a turnaround strategy, with the group seeing a revenue drop of a hefty 26% in the 2016 financial year.

Mteto ... I want to talk about the turnaround strategy and your vision for Altron going forward. But starting off how far down the line is Altron in selling off noncore assets, which, of course, is part of its turnaround strategy?

MTETO NYATI: Robbie and his team have done a great job over the last year in terms of execution when it comes to disposal of the noncore assets. We currently have only two key assets still left that need to be sold, PowerTech and a company called UEC. Companies like Autopage and Aberdare Cables have all already been sold and they did a great job in doing that.

My priority right now is to make sure that we close the two.

BDTV: And after that, what will the new Altron look like?

MN: Our mandate and the mission ... that’s why they decided to bring in someone with my expertise, we want to have a very strong African ICT (information communication technology) company. That is what we are going to build. And we are going to be building that on top of the great capability that we already have in Bytes.

Bytes Technology is already a great ICT company but we want to ensure that we pivot it to be relevant in the new areas of growth like cloud computing, like advance analytics, that’s where we would like to pivot it to.

BDTV: And how much growth is there in that, what are the growth prospects and when will you recover the 26% drop you saw in revenue?

MN: If you look purely at the 26% you would think, "Hey it was a terrible performance." But what you need to do is to unpack that number a little bit and if you look at the continued operations, how did the continued operations perform and compare like with like

If you’re comparing like with like, taking out the companies that we have sold, you will find that the group actually delivered a 6% year-on-year growth both on the bottom line and the top line, which is a good performance in a market that is really challenged.

BDTV: But when do you see the Altron Group getting back to revenue as it was in previous years?

MN: Our drive is to make sure that we continue to be driving that growth and for me, I would like to see as soon as we get rid of these noncore assets, we would like to ensure that the business that we have left behind is growing at high single digits....

BDTV: So you say that you want to expand, you want to increase your rest of Africa operations, but the group has had problems in rest of African countries in the past.

MN: We can’t necessarily generalise. There was a mishap, a decision that was made to invest in Kenya and that’s just one of the many operations that we have in Africa. That Kenyan decision was a bad one and we managed to close that operation. But the rest of our operations in Africa are doing fantastically. What I would like to do is to make sure that we expand the offerings that we put into those markets.

BDTV: How easy is it for you to come in as new CEO and to implement someone else’s turnaround strategy, a strategy that you haven’t been involved in and that you weren’t a part of drawing up?

MN: Again, probably a big misreading of the situation. I am not going to be executing somebody’s strategy. I would never take a job where I have to execute somebody else’s strategy. Right now what I am doing with my team, we are busy putting together a strategy for the new Altron. The strategy that you were talking to broadly was about disposal. Disposal is not a strategy and that’s the one that you were referring to.

Right now, we are putting together what is going to be helping this company to grow, going forward.

BDTV: And when will you will be ready to tell the market about that?

MN: I will be ready to tell the market ... we’re having great sessions that we are planning in June and by the end of June, beginning of July, I will be going out on roadshows and sharing with the rest of the market and whoever is interested.

BDTV: So the previous CEO Robbie Venter is going to be moving into a nonexecutive position, is that going to be awkward because as a nonexecutive you can advise on implementation but you cannot actually do it. Is it going to be awkward?

MN: You have a person by the name of Robbie who has been an executive for such a long time, and people in those jobs understand their responsibilities and I’ve already dealt with him for almost one-and-a-half months. I can see that he is somebody that was mature and who now understands his new responsibilities and is respectful of the new CEO and the leaders that are taking this business forward.

BDTV: Just very briefly what are the biggest risks to this group going forward?

MN: I wouldn’t say that there are risks. There are two priorities that we have as a group, to get rid of the two operations that are noncore. Once we have that behind us, we have a group with a great and fantastic future.

BDTV: And then to come up with a sustainable strategy ...

MN: Yes.

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