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SAA partner bails from the board, Gordhan blames detractors

pravin gordhan opening his mouth

After a key member of SAA’s selected equity partner, the Takatso consortium, decided to resign over concerns about the deal, the government asserted that “certain elements” were spreading “deliberate misinformation” in an attempt to derail the deal, News24 reports.

On Monday, the former co-CEO of and co-founder of LIFT, Gidon Novick resigned from the consortium’s board, citing concerns over its ability to raise sufficient funds and “a lack of information and communication” in an interview with News24. Global Airways, an aviation leasing group that owns LIFT, was represented on the board by Novick.

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) issued a statement on Friday morning stating that “the public should be aware of the efforts of competitors, detractors, and other forces to undermine our efforts to save jobs and maintain a viable airline.”

saa planes parked on the runway
SAA planes parked on the runway

“Government is awaiting the completion of regulatory processes and will then finalize Takatso‘s purchase of 51% of SAA’s shares. “The transaction is not at risk,” said DPE.

Since the departure of Gideon Novick [sic] from the Takatso consortium’s board of directors, we condemn the deliberate dissemination of false information and the sowing of doubt regarding the transaction and regulatory processes.

“DPE thanks the traveling public and loyal SAA customers for their ongoing support. Your contribution has contributed to the creation of over 800 jobs for pilots, cabin crew, and other workers.

“Their jobs are in jeopardy due to the egotism, irresponsibility, and greed of a few elements.”

Takatso is owned by infrastructure investment firm Harith and airline LIFT owner Global Airways.

This week, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan dismissed Novick’s resignation in parliament, referring to him as a “small and relatively minor party in a transaction.”

Nevertheless, a senior industry figure told News24 that Novick’s experience was crucial to the SAA deal’s due diligence. Novick and Global Airways were to provide SAA with aviation expertise.

The DPE stated on Friday that he was confident that “Takatso will bring the necessary technical, financial, and operational expertise to the company and that deal was not at risk”.

Additionally, there were previously doubts about Harith’s ability to raise the necessary funds from the outset.

Harith CEO and Takatso chair Tshepo Mahloele told News24 on Tuesday that Harith is unable to secure the final funding for the deal until the government pays SAA’s outstanding debt.

Mahloele told News24 that he applauded Novick’s resignation, as it resolved competition concerns with LIFT.

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