A Life Healthcare hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. Photo: Terry Haywood
A Life Healthcare hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. Photo: Terry Haywood

Leadership shake-up at Life Healthcare

By Edward West Time of article published Jul 28, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Life Healthcare , recently rated as the fastest-growing brand in the country, has announced significant changes to its leadership with the appointment of Peter Wharton-Hood as chief executive from September 1, while chairperson Mustaq Brey has opted to step down.

Current independent non-executive director Victor Litlhakanyane has been appointed as chairperson-designate, with immediate effect. Brey will remain on board until the 2021 annual general meeting, after which Litlhakanyane will assume the role.

Wharton-Hood is a well-known South African executive, having previously held executive positions with Standard Bank, where he gained experience in running retail businesses, operations and information technology. He has also sat as a non-executive director and chairperson on multiple boards, and audit, risk and remuneration committees.

During his time with Deutsche Bank (DB) in London, Wharton-Hood was head of operations for the global markets division, and subsequently global chief operations officer for the corporate and investment banking division of the bank, which included responsibility for technology and operations. He also managed the Brexit transition process for the bank. He will be based in South Africa in his new position, a company spokesperson said.

Previous acting chief executive Pieter van der Westhuizen, who had been with the company for more than 20 years and recently had to lead it in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and a cyber attack, would also provide support to the new chief executive.

Brey said Wharton-Hood had a “solid” track record of driving transformation programmes, locally and internationally, and he also had strong experience in dealing with regulators across the world.

Litlhakanyane is currently managing director of Bigen Africa Health and executive director of Bigen Africa Group Holdings.

He obtained a medical degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 1988 before completing a Master's in medicine (radiotherapy) at the University of the Free State in 1995, after which he registered as a radiation and clinical oncologist with the Health Professions Council of SA.

He also holds a Master´s in Business Administration in health care.

Life Healthcare was recently named fastest-growing brand in South Africa, after it gained five positions, or 29percent, in the Brand Finance South Africa 50s 2020 ratings, which annually lists the top 50 brands in the country.

The report said since its inception, Life Healthcare had undertaken numerous acquisitions and constructed new hospitals to become the second-largest private hospital group, claiming more than a quarter of the market share.

“Life Healthcare has achieved solid results despite the contracting South African economy. On the front line of the global Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, Life Healthcare and fellow hospital group brands MediClinic (brand value fell 15percent in 2020) and Netcare (brand value also fell 50percent) were expected to be some of the few brands to benefit as a result of increased demand.

“This has not been the case, however, with all three brands showing significant loss in revenue as non-essential elective procedures have been cancelled and due to the slump in general demand as people avoid hospitals due to fear of infection,” the report said.

Life Healthcare shares closed 2.24percent higher at R19.13 on the JSE yesterday.


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