South African sugar producer Tongaat Hulett’s local unit — Hippo Valley Estates Limited — has appointed Aiden Mhere as its chief executive officer with effect from December 1, 2019.
Mhere has been acting CEO of the company since November 1, 2018.
A chartered secretary and registered public accountant with Master of Business Administration Degree from the University of Zimbabwe, Mhere joined Hippo in November 1999 as commercial executive responsible for marketing and strategy.
Over the years he has held various executive roles including being procurement director for Tongaat Hulett — Zimbabwe operations from 2007 to 2012.
He further acquired valuable exposure to regional and global commercial dynamics as team leader of the Tongaat Hulett Strategic Sourcing Division, based in Durban from 2012 to 2014.
On his return to Zimbabwe in October 2014, he was appointed commercial director and operations executive responsible for commercial, agricultural and manufacturing operations for Tongaat Hulett operations in Zimbabwe.
He also participated in the Anglo-American Group’s Advanced Management Programme (AMP), delivered at the Universities of Pretoria and London in 2003/4.
In a statement this week, Hippo said: “The board is confident that he possesses the requisite capabilities to handle this challenge and will make a meaningful contribution to the business going forward. The Board would like to congratulate Aiden on his appointment.”
His appointment comes at a time the sugar making firm is working on its turnaround strategy code named “Project Crystal”.
The strategy was promulgated by its holdings company, Tongaat Hulett in an effort to reduce costs, increase value and reposition all sub-Saharan operations and bring them back to profitability.
The holdings company also introduced the proposed turnaround strategy with the ultimate goal to rebuild trust and align operations towards growth following the key findings of an investigation by the Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).
Among others, the investigation, whose findings were released on November 29, 2019, revealed insufficient internal accountability and flawed governance and financial oversight by certain senior executives.
Currently, the Hippo’s shares are suspended from trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) after the firm had missed deadlines to publish its financial results.
Allegations of financial misappropriation against South African-headquartered parent company Tongaat Hulett Limited, had forced Zimbabwean subsidiary, Hippo to postpone publication of its FY2019 results.
The financials, for the year to March 31, 2019, that were finally released in December showed sugar cane production increased by 26 percent. Revenue went up 54 percent to $244,9 million from $159 million in 2018 as operating profit surged 923 percent to $113,6 million. Cash generated from operations rose to $37,2 million from $16,6 million.