One thing Danie du Toit has an appetite for is a daunting challenge. This is what he faces as he takes up the position of Denel group CEO: rescuing the state-owned arms manufacturer that has been battling over the past year to generate sufficient cash to stay afloat. Asked what made him take on the challenge, he says: "It’s an enormous opportunity to make a difference to the country." Du Toit, 52, has had a long career in the defence industry, mostly with Swedish aerospace and defence group Saab. Being a white man, his appointment came as something of a surprise — it was justified by the Denel board on the grounds that he was the best candidate. Since taking over the job in mid-January, the former MD of Saab Medav Technologies in Germany has been analysing the business, having strategic meetings with management teams in the various divisions and meeting staff. His most immediate challenge is to get cash. Denel’s severe liquidity crunch has made it difficult to pay suppliers and empl...

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