An analyst says the surprising resignation by Sasol's chief financial officer is "very unusual" and has unsettled some in the market.
The sudden resignation of Sasol’s chief financial officer, Christine Ramon, just two weeks before the release of what appears to be a good set of company results, has unsettled some in the market.
One analyst said it was “very unusual for someone this senior to leave without some prior indication in the market” and at the start of a capital investment programme, including a $21-billion investment in two gas-to-liquids plants in the United States.
Ramon’s resignation follows her sales of R33-million of her shares on May 14. The mystery is unlikely to be solved, however, until September 9, when Sasol’s annual results to June 2013 are presented.
Sasol spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan said the company was in a closed period and could not comment.
“Sasol is required legally, as soon as a decision of this nature has been made, to make it public, but no further comments can be made during the closed period,” O’Sullivan said. “Ramon will be presenting the financial results on September 9.”
David Shapiro of Sasfin did not see anything “sinister” in Ramon’s resignation. He said in a market review on radio this week that there is a new chief executive and managing director at Sasol and this had, perhaps, prompted the change.
But the market was taken unawares by the announcement on Monday that the petrochemical giant’s second-most-senior executive was leaving. Concerns were raised about a possible gap in management as a result of her departure.
Paul Victor, executive: group finance, will take up the position of acting chief financial officer on September 10.
Ramon joined Sasol in 2006, after resigning as chief executive of Johnnic Holdings, holding the position of director of various businesses within Sasol before taking up her role of chief financial officer in 2009.
In a JSE statement, Chief executive David Constable credited Ramon with a number of “landmark” achievements at the company, including the Sasol Inzalo Black Economic Empowerment deal in 2008, the company’s Canadian gas acquisitions in 2010/2011 and the 2012 $1-billion bond issue.
On August 1, Sasol said it expected its earnings to rise by between 20% and 30% for the previous financial year, owing to Sasol Synfuel’s improved production and favourable exchange-rate conditions.