PPC chairman grilled over multiple posts

Posted On Tuesday, 29 January 2008 02:00 Published by
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PRETORIA Portland Cement (PPC) yesterday came under fierce criticism over its corporate governance and the fact that it has not disclosed its total level of carbon dioxide emissions.

john gomersallIn July, PPC was spun out of Barloworld, which owned 71% of the cement company.

At its annual general meeting yesterday, shareholder activist Theo Botha grilled PPC chairman Martin Shaw over the company’s governance and environmental practices.

Botha asked Shaw how he could state that “corporate governance continued to be a top priority” when he chaired the company, as well as PPC’s audit and remuneration committees.

“I think this must be a first for good corporate governance; you must be the only director of a listed company who is a member of every committee and the chairman of the group,” Botha said.

The second King code of corporate governance says that the chairman of the group should not be a member of the audit committee at all , as one of the checks and balances to ensure proper governance throughout the chain.

Shaw conceded the position was “far from ideal, but the best (arrangement) for the time being”. He blamed it on PPC’s empowerment deal having been delayed for so long.

The empowerment deal has been long in coming, but Shaw said there was “nothing sinister” in the delays, it was just that the deal was “so complicated”.

PPC revealed details of the deal, saying it would involve the sale of 15% of the company to new black partners.

“The reason for me continuing (on all these committees) was simply to provide continuity,” Shaw said. Once the empowerment deal was put to bed, he would step down.

CEO John Gomersal said the situation was “exacerbated by the somewhat unexpected timing of the unbundling”, as four of the nonexecutive directors, all directors of Barloworld, resigned.

Botha also asked what PPC’s level of carbon dioxide emissions actually were.

PPC did not reveal what its total emissions were, though the company agreed that “maybe we’ll do that” in future.

PPC released a trading update at the meeting, showing that first quarter sales had slowed as heavy rains had halted some building projects.

Shaw said revenue last month alone declined 1,5% compared with a year earlier, although PPC expected “improved earnings and continued strong cash flows”.

Full-year demand would continue to grow, but at a slower pace than in previous years.

Shaw said “the implications of the recent power-generation problems were cause for concern”. This was especially so as PPC was building new plants to create extra capacity.

Gomersall’s pay rose 18% to R7,2m in the year to September, from R6,1m a year earlier, according to the annual report. That excludes R3,3m in share options granted by Barloworld, compared with R10,24m the previous year.

PPC fell nearly 7%, or R2,78, on the JSE yesterday, to close at R37,10.

 

Last modified on Monday, 14 October 2013 21:42

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