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Eskom appoints chief executive

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Andre de Ruyter has been appointed as the new group chief executive of struggling state-owned power utility Eskom.

Andre de Ruyter has been appointed as the new group chief executive of struggling state-owned power utility Eskom, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan announced yesterday.

De Ruyter currently serves as CEO of Nampak, Africa’s biggest packaging company, and previously worked for petrochemical group Sasol in a number of senior management positions.

Gordhan said he had ample experience in the energy sector.

“I would like to thank Mr De Ruyter for not only accepting this position at a difficult time for Eskom, but, given Eskom’s current financial situation, also agreeing to a lower compensation package than the position currently pays.”

Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza has been acting as chief executive of Eskom since Phakamani Hadebe stepped down at the end of July.

Urgent

The appointment of a new permanent CEO has been much awaited; putting Eskom on a sound footing is seen as the most urgent step towards shoring up the South African economy.

The utility has debt of R441 billion and by the end of March had used R295 billion of the guarantees offered by the government.

De Ruyter will have the task of steering Eskom through an unbundling of its generation, transmission and distribution capacities in a bid to make the company more efficient and curb its losses, which reached R20.7 billion

Eskom posted a record annual financial loss of R20.7 billion, and will receive a R59 billion bailout from National Treasury over two years, in addition to the R69 billion over three years pledged by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in his February budget.

Mboweni last month disappointed those who had hoped that he would announce debt-restructuring measures for Eskom, with the finance minister saying he first needed to see a clear commitment towards restructuring and cost saving on the part of the utility.