Financial Mail

PROFILE Expanding horizons


Invicta has earned a hard-won reputation as one of SA’s outstandin­g industrial companies over the past decade. Few people could be better suited to head it than Charles Walters, who takes over as group CE from Arnold Goldstone in April.

“It will be a pleasure to lead the team into the future,” says Walters.

“It’s a group of highly motivated, down-to-earth people.”

Walters (46) has been part of the Invicta team since becoming MD of its Bearing Man Group (BMG) division in 2006. Under his watch, which coincided with the 2009 recession, BMG’s operating profit more than doubled.

His achievemen­t at BMG is built on a solid career at Anglo American and Mondi. His academic credential­s are as solid.

“I matriculat­ed from St Johns College in Johannesbu­rg in 1989 and went on to obtain a BSc in mechanical engineerin­g at UCT on an Anglo American scholarshi­p,” says Walters.

A 12-month stint in the army followed, a period he put to good use. “I began studying for my BCom through Unisa while I was there,” he says. He was to round this off later with an executive management qualificat­ion from Harvard.

After his time in the army it was on to Anglo, at first as an engineer on gold, coal and diamond mines. His big break arrived in 1993, when he became one of six people admitted to Charles Walters Intensive search for foreign acquisitio­ns becoming MD of BMG.

In his role as group CE Walters will join forces with Goldstone, who remains a key part of the Invicta team as executive deputy chairman. Together they will drive Invicta’s next big growth phase, which is focused on foreign expansion.

“We now have the management capacity to look intensivel­y for foreign acquisitio­ns,” says Walters. “We already have a number of potential deals.”

The target is to lift non-SA revenue to 50% of the group total in three to five years. “I would hope it is closer to three than five years,” says Walters.

Invicta is already well on the way, deriving 11% of its revenue from Africa and 12% primarily from its wholly owned Singapore-based earthmovin­g equipment unit, Kian Ann, of which Walters is chairman.

Acquired in 2012 for R1,36bn, Kian Ann was Invicta’s first big step outside Africa. “It would take two Kian Ann-size deals to reach our 50% target,” says Walters. “We are capable of one big acquisitio­n a year.”

Though Africa is part of Invicta’s foreign plans, Walters says non-African expansion will lead the way. “We want to expand in Asia and will also look closely at the US,” he says.

The market will be looking for big things from Invicta. It is unlikely to be disappoint­ed.

Stafford Thomas

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