Andy Baker has become the third top executive at JSE-listed technology and telecommunications group Reunert to quit in as many months, following the departure of CEO Nick Wentzel in September and commercial director Gerrit Oosthuizen in October.
Baker, who will leave the group at the end of January, is CEO of Nashua, Reunert’s largest subsidiary, which accounts for 65% of Reunert’s revenues. Before that he was chief operating officer at Altech Group.
Reunert has suffered from extensive staff turnover at senior level since Gerrit “Boel” Pretorius resigned as CEO last year, with the reins going to Wentzel. Reunert’s financial director, David Rawlinson, was named as Wentzel’s successor on 21 September. Wentzel left Reunert “with immediate effect” by way of a “mutual agreement” with the company.
Both Wentzel and Oosthuizen on Friday declined to comment about their reasons for leaving Reunert, while Rawlinson says all groups go through periods of management instability from time to time and adds that the group’s succession planning has always been good and remains strong.
Baker has been at Nashua for only nine months. He was appointed to replace Nashua Mobile MD Chris Scoble, who left late last year amid a restructuring programme that resulted in 160 jobs being cut at the company. Baker was subsequently elevated to look after the entire Nashua group.
On Baker’s watch, Nashua has undertaken a sweeping restructuring and has overseen the acquisition of telecoms company ECN in a deal worth almost R200m. The acquisition was done to bolster Nashua’s presence in the voice services market. Website Business Live reported in July that five previously autonomous entities were being brought into a “single solution” that would fall under two “subsections”, Nashua Mobile and Nashua Business. Baker was leading this process.
However, Rawlinson tells TechCentral that the announcement of the planned restructuring of Nashua into two main entities was “premature”. Rather, Nashua will be structured into its “natural product areas”. Asked if changes to the restructuring plan had influenced Baker’s decision to resign, Rawlinson says: “I think you should ask Andy Baker that question.”
TechCentral could not reach Baker on his mobile phone on Friday morning.
Nashua Mobile is SA’s second biggest independent cellular service provider after Altech Autopage Cellular but went through a round of retrenchments late last year, partly as a result of falling mobile termination rates — the fees the mobile operators charge to carry calls onto their networks. Nashua Mobile was exposed to the least-cost routing (LCR) market, where companies took advantage of arbitrage opportunities when termination rates were higher. LCR has become a less attractive proposition as the rates have come down. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral
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