Comair chair leaves board after 46 years
Shareholders called for board shake-up over concerns about lack of independence
Airline group Comair says its former chair Pieter van Hoven has resigned from the board after 46 years with the company.
Comair, which owns kulula.com and operates British Airways flights in Southern Africa, also announced on Thursday that Derek Borer would resign as company secretary with effect from February 15.
The latest announcements come after shareholders raised concerns about the lack of independence among some Comair board members.
The company said on the JSE’s stock exchange news service that Van Hoven, who retired as chair at the end of October after eight years at the helm, has resigned as independent non-executive director and lead independent director of the company with immediate effect.
Van Hoven is a former MD of Comair, having held that role for 26 years.
At Comair’s annual general meeting last October, Van Hoven and new chair and Bidvest CEO Lindsay Ralphs faced questions from shareholder Danny Tuckwood about the tenure of long-standing board members and their independence.
Tuckwood is a director of Metaco, a leadership consultancy firm acquired by Comair in July 2018 and later sold.
Ralphs told the Financial Mail this week that Bidvest, which holds 28% of Comair, felt some directors had overstayed their tenure.
“Many of the nonexecutives had been there for far longer than the King code recommends. We tried to engage with them, but we encountered a lot of resistance, so we exercised our rights and voted at the AGM,” he said.
Other directors who have resigned in the past few weeks include Rodney Sacks, who resigned from Comair’s board on December 31 after 39 years of service, and Martin Moritz, who resigned on January 2 after 40 years on the board.
Comair’s financial director, Kirsten King, also resigned in 2019, effective end-February 2020.
Wrenelle Stander was appointed as group CEO in December. Stander was previously a joint CEO with Glenn Orsmond, who was appointed CEO of Comair’s airline division.