Denel dismisses CEO while promoting Asian business


Denel has reportedly dismissed CEO Riaz Saloojee after its new board suspended him and two others in September last year. It is alleged that Saloojee was pushed out to make way for the Gupta-connected Denel Asia joint venture. Denel is currently promoting its presence in Asia.

Saloojee’s dismissal happened on Thursday, according to Netwerk24, without any evidence or charges of misconduct being brought against him. The publication alleges that Saloojee was urged to make ‘prescribed’ appointments at the group’s subsidiaries, but he was reluctant to do so and was subsequently suspended.

Saloojee was suspended along with chief financial officer Fikile Mhlontlo and group company secretary Elizabeth Africa, at first allegedly due to cash flow issues relating to the purchase of BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (now Denel Vehicle Systems), but then two weeks ago Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said the three were being investigated into irregularities in the state-owned company’s profit statement.

Denel today issued a statement stressing the importance of south-east Asia as a growth market for its products, and announced it will be out in full force at this week’s Defence Services Asia (DSA) exhibition in Malaysia.

In January Denel announced it was creating Denel Asia, a joint venture company in Hong Kong in partnership with VR Laser, which is partially controlled by the Gupta family.
“South East Asia is a critical region for Denel and we continue to explore opportunities to grow our order book in this market,” said acting chief executive Zwelakhe Ntshepe. “The recent establishment of Denel Asia…and Denel’s high-profiled presence at the Defexpo show in India are signals the company intends to grow its market share in south-east Asia,” Denel said.

The Denel Asia initiative is currently on hold pending investigation by National Treasury as the joint venture has apparently not been approved by either Brown or the National Treasury.

The 2016 edition of DSA in Kuala Lumpur will see defence decision makers and industry representatives from more than 50 countries on hand to see the latest in defence technology.

One of Denel’s major breakthroughs in the Malaysian defence sector is the supply of turrets and integrated weapons systems for the country’s new generation 8×8 armoured vehicles. This is the largest export contract to date in Denel’s history and contributes significantly to company revenue. The turret will also find its way onto the new South African infantry fighting vehicles – the Badger – now in the first stage of production at Denel Land Systems (DLS) in Lyttelton, Centurion.

A further pointer to the relationship between Denel and Malaysia was the recent visit of the deputy secretary general in the Malaysian Ministry of Defence to South Africa. His visit was to explore opportunities for future co-operation in, among others, manufacturing and industrial offset programmes.

Denel Dynamics will have its, according to the company, “battle proven” Seeker 200 on display in Kuala Lumpur this week. The UAV has a 10 hour endurance and a range of 250 km.

Display models of four Denel Dynamics designed missile systems – the A-Darter air-to-air, the Umkhonto surface-to-air, the Mokopa air-to-ground and the Ingwe anti-tank guided weapon are expected to attract a high level of interest.

The Malaysian exhibition will also see the regional debut of Denel PMP’s Inkunzi, a semi-automatic 20 mm weapon that can destroy high-value targets at up to a thousand metres using specially designed ammunition.

At the time of publication, Denel had not responded to questions regarding Saloojee’s position at the company.