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Review to merge SAA, SA Express at an advanced stage

SA Express.Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba says the work of assessing the viability of a merger between South African Airways and SA Express is done, pending a government review.

He said this during his maiden appearance as Finance Minister to answer oral questions during a question and answer session in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Minister Gigaba’s remarks come after former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in the Budget Speech on 24 February 2016 that he, together with the Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, agreed to explore the possible merger of South African Airways (SAA) and South African Express (SA Express) under a strengthened board, with a view to engage a potential minority equity partner and create a bigger and more efficient airline.

Minister Gigaba said National Treasury and the Department of Public Enterprises jointly adjudicated the bids received in response to the tender that had been issued.

Subsequently, government appointed Boston-based management consulting firm, Bain & Company, and South African consulting and advisory firm, Abacus Advisory, to assist government to undertake a comprehensive assessment of all options before reaching a final decision on the optimal ownership and corporate structure of the State-owned airlines.

“The work is complete and the next step is for government to review the options and recommendations to allow an informed decision to be taken on how to proceed, including alignment to the review currently underway on SAA’s long-term turnaround strategy.

“The review by government will determine whether equity partners, if any, would become part of the ownership structure of the State-owned airline assets,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phumeza Nhantsi has been appointed as Chief Financial Officer of South African Airways.

“South African Airways has announced the appointment of Phumeza Nhantsi as SAA’s new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The appointment is effective from 1 May 2017,” SAA said on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old Nhantsi was appointed as SAA’s Interim CFO in November 2015 after the position was left vacant following the departure of Wolf Meyer.

The appointment followed a rigorous recruitment and selection process before a recommendation was made to the Shareholder for concurrence.

“Since the appointment of the full-strength Board in September 2016, the focus has been on stabilising the business and one of the priorities was to ensure that key management vacancies are filled.

“This is one such key appointment for the airline to ensure that SAA’s strategic objective of transforming the business into a financially sustainable aviation group is achieved,” said SAA Acting Chief Executive Officer Musa Zwane.

Prior to joining SAA, Nhantsi was a Director at SizweNtsalubaGobodo, the fifth-largest accounting firm in Southern Africa and the largest black-owned and managed firm.

She was temporarily seconded from SizweNtsalubaGobodo to SAA.

Nhantsi, who is a chartered accountant, has extensive experience in the financial services and aviation arena.

“We congratulate Ms Nhantsi on her appointment and wish her well in executing her responsibilities,” said Zwane.

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