Needs empowerment to at­tract Eskom busi­ness

Finweek English Edition - - Companies & Markets - BELINDA AN­DER­SON

AFRICA ????? CEL­LU­LAR TOW­ERS (Actow­ers) is, as my col­league Shaun Har­ris noted in a re­cent Port­fo­lio Punt (17 July), one of those small caps that con­tains its share of risk but could spice up a port­fo­lio due to its ex­po­sure to the fast-grow­ing African cell­phone mar­ket. Actow­ers hopes to broaden its ex­po­sure to power gen­er­a­tion and has ten­dered for var­i­ous Eskom projects. How­ever, it ac­knowl­edges it needs to work on its black eco­nomic empowerment cre­den­tials.

CEO, chair­man and 47,45% share­holder Chris Krüger prom­ises in his lat­est an­nual re­view that Actow­ers will “con­tinue to re­view our empowerment cre­den­tials as a mat­ter of pri­or­ity, es­pe­cially in light of the newly es­tab­lished Elec­tric Trans­mis­sion Tow­ers divi­sion”.

The an­nual re­port pro­vides an ad­e­quate level of dis­clo­sure and leaves the share­holder feel­ing gen­er­ally comfortable that the com­pany knows where its chal­lenges lie and that it’s do­ing some­thing to face them.

Ex­pect to see the ap­point­ment of some in­de­pen­dent, non-ex­ec­u­tive direc­tors this year (it cur­rently only has one non-ex­ec­u­tive, against three ex­ec­u­tives), as Actow­ers moves to bring it­self in line with the Cor­po­rate Laws Amend­ment Act of 2006. But don’t ex­pect the roles of chair­man and CEO to be split: AltX list­ings rules don’t re­quire that and the com­pany doesn’t deem it nec­es­sary.

It al­ways feels out of kil­ter when direc­tors of small com­pa­nies earn as much as their large listed coun­ter­parts. But that’s not the case at Actow­ers. In­clud­ing his bonus, Krüger took home R1,8m, while op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor David van Staden was paid R665 750 and fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor Jac­ques de Vil­liers earned R810 719. De Vil­liers saw his salary jump twoand-a-half fold year-on-year. But that’s hardly sur­pris­ing; it’s doubt­ful any­one pay­ing their fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor just R233 050 would be able to keep him very long.

Other fees that went up sig­nif­i­cantly this year are those of its au­di­tors, Nexia HBLT Char­tered Ac­coun­tants, which in­creased to R425 360 from R109 030 in 2007. That’s prob­a­bly be­cause the group now con­sists of three sub­sidiaries (one ac­quired, the oth­ers es­tab­lished or­gan­i­cally), in­stead of just one and has ex­panded ge­o­graph­i­cally into mar­kets such as Mada­gas­car, Congo (Braz­zav­ille) and Uganda.

All four direc­tors re­ceive gold stars for their full at­ten­dance at board meet­ings; which isn’t some­thing you of­ten see.

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