Moneyweb columnist Hilton Tarrant was among the first to share a graph on social media tracking Nampak’s share price’s downward trajectory while Andre de Ruyter was CEO.
De Ruyter surprised South Africa on Monday when he was announced as struggling energy utility Eskom’s new CEO, over South African-born former LNG Canada CEO Andy Calitz, who was widely expected to take the reins.
Others tipped included former Eskom group capital executive Dan Marokane and former Eskom boss Jacob Moroga.
Tarrant made his scepticism regarding De Ruyter’s appointment clear.
“Andre De Ruyter was an underwhelming choice to lead the then R29 billion Nampak in 2014. Today, Nampak’s market value is R5 billion,” he tweeted.
“Really not sure what the Eskom board and/or [department of public enterprises] have seen that we may have missed…” he added.
In a second tweet, he added a graph showing that Nampak’s value has decreased by 84% in the past five years.
The graph from Tarrant has been shared on Twitter many times, with some using it to add weight to a theory – advanced by voices including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – that Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and others are engaged in a plan to “run Eskom into the ground”, as one user put it, so that the utility can later be privatised.
But while some accused De Ruyter of having “destroyed” Nampak, others defended him.
Journalist James Styan, the author of The Bosasa Billions (2019) and Steinhoff en die Stellenbosse boys (2018), responded to one user who shared the much-repeated information about the company’s value decreasing from R29 billion to R5 billion.
“Do you know anything about the business and history of Nampak at all? Including the Nigerian and Angolan crisis in 2015?” he asked.
Nampak already had a net debt ratio of 73% in 2014, when De Ruyter was appointed. This was because the company expanded into those two African countries, but a collapse in the oil price led to the company incurring multimillions of US dollars in debt.
“Isn’t it sad how people jump to conclusions based on a (contextless) graph and someone’s skin colour?” Styan added.
And in another tweet, he said: “Some believe if it wasn’t for him Nampak would have gone under years ago…”
Another user who said he “worked at Nampak from 2008” said another user who accused De Ruyter of forcing a company on a “growing trajectory” into “decline” of “talking rubbish”.
“I know what happened there when Andrew Marshal was CEO before Andre de Ruyter,” he said.