MANAGEMENT: Durand At Remgro's Helm
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE tragic death of long-serving Remgro CEO Thys Visser in a motor vehicle accident at the end of April has seen Jannie Durand taking the helm at the Stellenbosch investment giant.
Although taking up the CEO position a good deal earlier than planned, Durand had largely been groomed for the top job. As Remgro’s Chief Investment Officer, Durand effectively served as an understudy to the legendary Visser.
Durand also has previous experience of running a sizeable investment company, having served as CEO of Remgro associate Venfin (which held an array of technology-aligned investments).
It was during his tenure at Venfin – after the company had delisted from the JSE after selling off its valuable stake in cellular services company Vodacom – that Durand cemented his reputation as a savvy executive.
On Durand’s appointment, Remgro CEO Johann Rupert noted that the company was fortunate to have had more than one good candidate for the CEO position.
“One of the deciding factors was that the board wanted a new generation appointment similar to when Thys Visser was appointed. The board is positioning itself for the future.”
The investment community does not expect a dramatic strategic change at Remgro under Durand’s watch. Like Visser, Durand – although only in his mid-forties - is steeped in the Remgro traditions of preserving and building value for shareholders over the long term.
One observer noted: “Jannie is relatively young…clearly they want him to be heading the company for the next two decades.”
Observers have noted that the bulk of Remgro’s value and earnings power is built around a handful of investments like Medi-Clinic, RMB/FirstRand, Distell, Rainbow Chickens and Unilever.
They argue that the challenge for Durand – who might be perceived as a bolder investor than the late Thys Visser - will be to ensure newer investments like Grindrod, SEACOM and Dark Fibre Africa deliver on promise.
Durand might also be expected to accelerate Remgro’s drive for sizeable new investment opportunities. The company is sitting with billions of rands in free cash.
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