Brown is eye­ing Ethiopian Air­lines, Eti­had or Emi­rates

CityPress - - Business -

Govern­ment is likely to dis­band the boards of both SAA and SA Ex­press, and reestab­lish a sin­gle board, Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown said this week.

“Is it nec­es­sary to have two air­lines be­ing flag bear­ers? We also have Mango and a small stake in SA Air­link,” she said.

This week, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han an­nounced changes to make sta­te­owned en­ter­prises more ef­fi­cient.

Brown could not put a time limit on the changes at the na­tional car­rier, while Gord­han has said that they were im­mi­nent.

SAA has not tabled its fi­nan­cial re­sults, which were due in Septem­ber last year.

SAA chair­per­son Dudu Myeni is a close friend of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, and is re­garded in political cir­cles as un­touch­able.

Brown said an equity part­ner at SAA was a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity, al­though no talks had yet started – a stake could be as high as 26% or could be lower, de­pend­ing on the car­rier’s needs.

“I’ve al­ways thought there should be a strate­gic part­ner,” she said.

Brown said she was look­ing with in­ter­est at Ethiopian Air­lines, which is fast be­com­ing the con­ti­nent’s most suc­cess­ful car­rier.

In ad­di­tion, Eti­had or Emi­rates, the hugely suc­cess­ful Gulf oper­a­tors, were also in­ter­est­ing.

SAA has pre­vi­ously ex­plored and aban­doned code-shar­ing ar­range­ments with both.

SAA sits in the awk­ward po­si­tion of re­port­ing to the depart­ment of pub­lic en­ter­prises with a tem­po­rary line to the Trea­sury un­til it is sta­bilised.

For the rest of the state’s port­fo­lio of more than 600 com­pa­nies, pri­vati­sa­tion is not likely at any sig­nif­i­cant scale, but pri­vate part­ners may be brought in to run parts of SA Inc.

South Africa’s ports would ben­e­fit from pri­vate-sec­tor ex­per­tise or oper­a­tors, said Brown, but she said se­cu­rity con­sid­er­a­tions ruled out sim­i­lar ar­range­ments in freight rail.

She added that Transnet’s board could ben­e­fit from fi­nan­cial and trans­port ex­perts as it un­der­takes a mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture drive and cap­i­tal rais­ing ex­pe­di­tion.

“I think we can strengthen the boards,” she said, but she added that, on the whole, the big paras­tatals like Eskom and Transnet had a good spread of ex­per­tise and tal­ent.

“I am not un­happy with them at the mo­ment.”

Govern­ment has ex­tended R487 bil­lion in guar­an­tees against debts of the sta­te­owned en­ter­prises, no­tably Eskom and SAA.

– Fe­rial Haf­fa­jee

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