Publication: Business Report Date: 2005-04-13 Reporter: Roy Cokayne Reporter:

Saab is Tight-Lipped on Talk Grintek Chief Will Head Denel



Business Report




Roy Cokayne

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Saab of Sweden, which owns 21.1 percent of listed defence and telecommunications group Grintek, would not confirm an approach by public enterprises minister Alec Erwin for discussions on defence parastatal Denel and the future of the local defence industry.

A spokesperson for Saab said yesterday that the company had "nothing to say" about speculation that Denel chief executive Victor Moche was to be dismissed and replaced by Grintek chief executive Shaun Liebenberg.

Earlier this week, Liebenberg declined to comment on the rumour. But he did say he had been approached for discussions with Erwin on the future of the industry.

"Clearly, there are concerns at Denel and not only myself but the Kunene brothers [Grintek's black economic empowerment partners], Saab and a number of other members of the industry have been approached to collectively look at the issues in the industry."

Attempts to obtain comment from the Kunene brothers were unsuccessful.

Liebenberg added that there was a view that if the problems at Denel continued, the rest of the defence industry could not thrive.

"The minister is trying to get a lot of inputs from the private sector, government and from the industry, both local and abroad, on how these issues can be rectified. We're trying to assist and advise."

He added that Grintek was involved in many strategic activities and he was focusing on the company's strategy "until further notice".

Johan van Niekerk, a senior manager at trade union Uasa, said at the weekend that an extraordinary meeting of Denel's board of directors had been called this week to discuss a number of specific things, including "discipline".

Gaynor Kast, the ministerial spokesperson for public enterprise, has confirmed that Erwin would make a number of announcements about the state-owned enterprises, including Denel, during his budget vote speech on Friday.

With acknowledgements to Roy Cokayne and the Business Report.