TMCnet News

Last thing Tiger Brands needs is Jimmy as CEO
[December 13, 2007]

Last thing Tiger Brands needs is Jimmy as CEO

(Business Day (South Africa) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Last thing Tiger Brands needs is Jimmy as CEO WHEN I read that Jimmy Manyi thought he was in the running for the top job at Tiger Brands I just had to laugh.

At this point in its life Tiger Brands needs to improve its image, not wreck it and I'm afraid after Manyi's performance this year, he's a wrecker. When it came to Alexander Forbes, the financial services group that lost its black CE after shareholders forced a white guy into the position of executive chairman, Manyi was outspoken and lambasted the company. He should really have been lambasting the shareholders, but details tend to get in the way of a good yelling match.

So there he was all indignant with Alexander Forbes, but with Tiger Brands, which did not have one black executive director on its board and which cheated the poorest South Africans out of money when it fixed the price of bread, Manyi is all in favour.

The head of the Competition Commission, Shan Ramburuth (bless his soul) cornered Manyi on the radio a couple of weeks back and asked how it was that on the one hand he stood for values, morals and transformation, yet at the company he works for, his standards are vastly different. Manyi did not come up with a satisfactory answer except to say the issues were different. But they're not really. If you believe in attaining the highest levels of corporate governance, both companies erred. And if you had to measure that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst, I'd say Tiger would score an eight and Alexander Forbes would score a five. Enron would have been a 10.

Interestingly after Manyi's support for Tiger was publicly questioned, another body that Manyi heads up, the Black Management Forum, put out a statement that did not use Manyi's name but loudly decried the resignation of Tiger Brands' CEO Nick Dennis. It would have taken a particularly stupid person not to figure out that this was Manyi getting his cronies to put out press releases on his behalf and in support of his other cronies.

These are just Manyi's most public antics this year, but let's not forget the fiasco last year when as head of the Employment Equity Commission he backed up the labour minister when a number of high-profile companies were lambasted for not sending in their employment equity reports. But, oops, a number of those named, including the likes of Comair, had in fact sent in their reports. I'm not taking away from the fact that transformation is poor at many of SA's largest companies. We need watchdogs and commentators to slap said companies around the chops every now and then. But it's far better when those commentators actually get their facts straight.

With all of this in mind any rational person would surely have to conclude that Manyi is not the man for the job at Tiger Brands. I guess if our political situation is anything to go by, it doesn't seem to matter much what a person's past history is when they're being considered for the top job.

However, large corporations do seem to care more about their reputations than our country does right now, so I would imagine Tiger Brands is planning some sort of clean sweep. Hiring an external and black CEO would be first prize. It wouldn't hurt if that person was a woman. But this is not a company that has demonstrated a deep willingness to transform so you wouldn't want to throw someone in there who had no choice but to fail. If there is a tight collegiality between the white, male executives it could be a particularly horrible position to put a black woman into. Then again, how does transformation happen if not without difficulties and a fair amount of discomfort? But these are issues for Tiger Brands and its no doubt overpaid headhunters to ponder. All I want to say is: No. Just say no to Jimmy.

Copyright 2007 Johnnic Communications, Source: The Financial Times Limited

[ Back To's Homepage ]