Media reports on SAA, Airbus swap deal premature - ministry | Fin24
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Media reports on SAA, Airbus swap deal premature - ministry

Nov 24 2015 19:58
Carin Smith

Cape Town - Media reports about the position of the National Treasury and the minister of finance on the swap transaction of South African Airways (SAA) with Airbus are premature, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.

According to the ministry, SAA last week submitted a section 54 application to Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene to restructure the Airbus deal.

"National Treasury's Fiscal Liabilities Committee is currently studying the application and will make recommendations to the minister in due course. A decision is yet to be made on the application," according to the ministry.

It emphasised that the minister will be looking for a deal that benefits the airline financially, or at least one that does not leave SAA in a worse-off position.

The ministry also said that Nene is concerned about senior management movements at SAA.

"Leadership stability is crucial to implementing the long term turn-around strategy so that the airline can return to financial sustainability. I have, therefore, requested the board to brief me on these developments and their impact on the operations of the airline," said Nene.

He added that the board of SAA is in quorum and the process of appointing a full board is underway.

Early on Tuesday SAA brought an urgent interdict to curb several media outlets, including Media24 of which Fin24 is a part, from publishing the contents of a leaked internal memo to the SAA board from former acting CEO Thuli Mpshe and prepared by the head of legal, risk and compliance at SAA, Ursula Fikelepi.

It related to the legal risks and implications resulting from correspondence between SAA and Airbus and a potential dispute over the purchase and swap of Airbus aircraft, according to Fikelepi's affidavit to support the gagging order.

READ: SAA gags media

Mpshe, who held the CEO position on a temporary basis for less than four months, was last week replaced by Musa Zwane, former head of the state-owned carrier’s maintenance unit.

Zwane is the seventh permanent or acting CEO at SAA in less than four years, if Nico Bezuidenhout’s two stints in the position are counted separately. Mpshe replaced Bezuidenhout when he returned to his role as head of the company’s low-cost unit Mango.

SAA made a loss of R648m in the first six months of the 2015 financial year.

ALSO READ: 5 reasons why SAA is experiencing turbulence

saa  |  nhlanhla nene  |  aviation


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