Borkum’s JSE exit heralds a new era

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Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita will chair the JSE. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - Next year’s retirement by JSE Limited chairman Humphrey Borkum means that for the first time in almost 70 years there will not be a Borkum at the bourse operator. Borkum was appointed to the JSE board in 2000. In 2002 he was appointed chairman.

His father, Max Borkum, was a major figure on the JSE for decades, including two years as chairman, until his retirement in the late 1990s.

Borkum senior joined the JSE after returning from World War 2. He built up his brokerage firm, Davis Borkum Hare, into one of the biggest and most powerful in South Africa.

Following the first democratic elections in 1994, the rapid influx of major international financial players saw UK-based Smith Newcourt acquire the brokerage in 1996.

It subsequently became Merrill Lynch South Africa after the US financial group acquired Smith Newcourt. Borkum senior, who was a major force in the Progressive Party, which became the DA, died at the age of 90 in 2007.

Commenting on Borkum junior’s retirement, Nicky Newton-King, the chief executive of the JSE, said yesterday: “Humphrey’s role in the evolution of the JSE business over the decades in our industry has been immense. We will miss his quiet wisdom and counsel as we chart the next stage of our journey.”

Borkum will be replaced as independent non-executive chairman by Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita at the JSE’s annual general meeting next year. Nyembezi-Heita, who joined the JSE board in June 2009 as an independent non-executive director, is currently the chief executive of ArcelorMittal South Africa.

Earlier this week she informed the steel group that she intended to step down as chief executive and executive director from February 18.

Nyembezi-Heita has been chief executive of the steel group since 2007, and during that period has led it through a number of major challenges including considerably tougher trading conditions. One of the most significant challenges was the lapse in the iron ore supply agreement with Kumba Iron Ore subsidiary Sishen.

The agreement, which guaranteed ArcelorMittal SA supplies of iron ore on a cost-plus 3 percent basis, lapsed in 2009 when the steel group failed to convert its 21.4 percent share of the mining rights at Sishen into new order mining rights.

After considerable legal tussling Kumba and ArcelorMittal SA announced last month that they had reached a new supply agreement.

In recent years, ArcelorMittal SA has suffered a number of major interruptions to production due to forced plant closures. In addition, it has come under increasing pressure from environmental and community groups over the damage it is doing to the environment.

One analyst remarked yesterday that Nyembezi-Heita’s new role at the JSE would certainly be a far less stressful one. - Business Report

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