Lindsay Ralphs, who was recently elected as the chairperson of Comair, said Comair was not complying to King IV regulations on corporate governance. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG – Bidvest chief executive Lindsay Ralphs said Comair’s remuneration policy needed to be re-looked thoroughly after Bidvest voted against the aviation company's remuneration policy last month.

Bidvest, the JSE-listed diversified group, holds a 27percent stake of Comair, which operates Kulula and British Airways. Last month Bidvest rejected Comair’s proposal to hike the annual fees of its chairperson to R1.6million in 2020 from R1.59m in 2019. It also voted against the proposed increase of the vice-chairperson’s fee to R487805 in 2020 from R464576 in 2019.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Bidvest’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Johannesburg yesterday, Ralphs said that Comair needed to modernise its remuneration policy. Ralphs, who was recently elected as the chairperson of Comair, said that Comair was not complying to King IV regulations on corporate governance, adding that Bidvest had used its votes to reflect that opinion.

“Remuneration has become a sophisticated part of the way that business is run in South Africa. One needs professional advice to run the remuneration committee and they (Comair) do not even have advisers. They are still doing things in the old-fashioned way and we voted against them so that we could attend a meeting, which we did this week. We recommended to them that they appoint a professional adviser who can bring them up to speed with a more modern remuneration strategy. They have asked for our assistance,“ said Ralphs.

Bidvest later yesterday announced prominent executive, Bonang Mohale, as the new chairperson of the group, with effect from today. Mohale, who has been a non-executive director of Bidvest since July 1, 2019, replaces Eric Diack, who filled this position temporarily since May 1, 2019. The group also announced the retirement of Anthony Dawe after spending 26 years with the group, including 13 years as an executive director. Dawe did not make himself available for re-election as an executive director.

The group said Tania Slabbert and Nigel Payne, both of whom had been independent non-executive directors on the board for longer than nine years, retired at yesterday's AGM. 

Ralphs told the meeting that the group had delivered a resilient organic operational performance in a challenging market.

“Domestically, demand is lacklustre in an environment plagued by low business confidence and constrained consumer demand. Cost and capital discipline together with improved margins were highlights. Acquired businesses delivered in line with expectations,” he said. Bidvest, which employs 123000 people, restructured from seven divisions into six amid the difficult economic climate.  

Ralphs said that Bidvest Freight’s R1billion Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) project in Richards Bay was progressing well.

“The arrival of the world's largest LPG storage tanks and the establishment of the terminal was celebrated at the end of October 2019. Approval has been given for a further R205million investment in an inland LPG terminal. Work on this will start once the Richards Bay terminal is operational,” said Ralphs.