Denel names new finance chief

South Africa’s Denel named a new chief financial officer (CFO) on Monday, as the struggling state-owned defence firm seeks to improve corporate governance and return to profitability.

A cornerstone of the country’s once-mighty defence industry, Denel recorded a R1.76 billion ($119 million) loss – its first in eight years – in 2018 and is among several state-owned enterprises being kept afloat with government bailouts.

Carmen Le Grange, a chartered accountant who served as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers before founding her own consultancy, is joining Denel this week as CFO and will serve on its board, the company said.

“We expect Ms. Le Grange to play a leadership role to further stabilise Denel’s finances and implement the measures introduced by the Board to improve performance and restore confidence in the future of the company,” Denel CEO Danie du Toit said.

In 2016, Denel’s senior management became embroiled in a corruption scandal involving friends of former president Jacob Zuma, the Gupta brothers. In response, banks pulled lending.

It is slowly filling senior management positions – du Toit was appointed in December – and is pushing ahead with a turnaround strategy that could see it begin exiting loss-making businesses and forging new equity partnerships within months.