Skilled CEOs

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

That’s no crit­i­cism of Lamberti – he is ob­sessed with value cre­ation, is fe­ro­ciously eth­i­cal in his deal­ings, and has an un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to SA as demon­strated through his tire­less cam­paign­ing against ram­pant crime rates.

Im­pe­rial is lucky to have him. He will be just the third CEO in the his­tory of the com­pany, which started out of a sin­gle mo­tor deal­er­ship by founder Bill Lynch, who first bought 10% of the com­pany in 1973 and set about cre­at­ing a di­ver­si­fied con­glom­er­ate. Hu­bert Brody took over when Lynch be­came ill and died of cancer five years ago and has set about con­sol­i­dat­ing the di­verse busi­ness and giv­ing the mul­ti­ple brands owned by the group a sin­gle Im­pe­rial iden­tity.

Lamberti will be look­ing to put his stamp on a busi­ness at a dif­fi­cult point in the cy­cle. The new boss at Naspers*, Bob van Dijk, only joined the group six months ago. Nether­lands-based Van Dijk was pre­vi­ously head of eBay in Ger­many and joined the me­dia and ecom­merce group in Au­gust 2013 as CEO of on­line clas­si­fieds busi­ness Al­le­gro. Koos Bekker, eas­ily one of the long­est-serv­ing CEOs on the JSE, hav­ing started in 1997, is tak­ing an­other year off to ex­plore the world of tech­nol­ogy be­fore he re­turns to chair the busi­ness when exjour­nal­ist and pre­vi­ous CEO Ton Vosloo steps down a year from now.

He pre­vi­ously took a year off in 2007 and when he re­turned in 2008, Naspers was trad­ing at around 16 000c. It is now eight times that level. Can share­hold­ers ex­pect the same? Bekker as chair­man will be at HQ in Cape Town and Van Dijk af­ter a year to set­tle in will be based out­side the tra­di­tional cen­tre of power. It’s not a prob­lem, says Bekker: “We’re a no­madic lot re­ally. It doesn’t mat­ter where you send your emails from, as long as you turn up for the meet­ings wher­ever they are be­ing held in the world.”

*Fin­week is a Me­dia24 pub­li­ca­tion, which is a sub­sidiary of Naspers.

Koos Bekker

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