The release of a business rescue plan for embattled sugar producer Tongaat Hulett has been pushed by a month until the end of February, when CEO Gavin Hudson will also leave the firm after just over four years in the job.
The firm’s business rescue practitioners said in a statement that the delay came amid efforts to secure post-commencement financing for the company, meeting with affected groups, as well as investigating the affairs of the company, “which are very complex”.
The firm said Hudson would be leaving the group with effect from 28 February 2023, but his core team of executives would remain.
Hudson, a former SABMiller executive, was appointed on 1 February 2019 to spearhead a turnaround of the group, a mandate which included a comprehensive review of its finances. This review, along with an initial investigation into allegations made through a whistle-blowing line, prompted further examinations. This then led to the firm asking the JSE to suspend trade in its shares in June 2019, amid concerns that its previous financial results couldn’t be relied upon.
In what subsequently turned into SA’s second-biggest accounting scandal after Steinhoff, a PwC probe identified 10 executives, including former CEO Peter Staude, who were allegedly involved in profit inflation. Charges have been laid against some of the former executives, and proceedings are expected to resume in 2023, with a pre-trial conference scheduled for 17 February.
Tongaat had entered business rescue in October, and lenders had previously agreed to about a two-month extension to its rescue plan. — Fin24