When Aveng Group CEO Roger Jardine joined Aveng Limited in 2008, part of his motivation was the importance of infrastructure as a key economic driver for the country and the contribution he personally was qualified to make. Then came the 2008 economic meltdown, on top of the investigation that had already started into collusion in the construction industry.
“My personal opinion is collusion is a nice sanitised word for corruption. It is staggering to see how deep this behaviour was running through the industry,” said the now soon to be ex Aveng Limited CEO, on the eve of the Aveng Board announcing that after five years at the helm, Jardine had tendered his resignation as CEO of Aveng Limited with effect from 31 August 2013.
According to Jardine, who was being interviewed on The Money Show on Talk Radio 702, he had walked into the issue as a new CEO in June 2008 and decided he would have to stay to the helm until there was a resolution with the Competition Commission. For the purposes of settlement, Aveng Limited had agreed to a lot that the Competition Commission had put forward at face value in order to achieve resolution. He stated that the majority of individuals involved in the decisions at the time under investigation had already left the company.
“The collusion issue goes to the heart of where we are as a country and for Aveng and the Industry in the middle of this, we needed to resolve this issue. It could not go on perennially,” said Jardine, adding that he had informed the Aveng Board that with the Competition Commission’s investigation into the construction industry now finalised, he had decided that this was an appropriate point for him to step down.
Commenting on the announcement, Jardine said: “It has been a privilege working for an organisation that is at the core of infrastructure development. However, the Competition Commission’s investigation process has been personally very taxing, particularly as I have had to deal with matters that occurred before my appointment and of which I had no personal knowledge. While the first of the Competition Commission issues came to our attention shortly after I joined Aveng five years ago, I had a duty as CEO to see the group through this process. The settlement agreement confirmed by the Competition Tribunal last month provides a fresh platform for the group to move forward and to build on the culture of ethical corporate behaviour that we have worked so hard to implement. I feel it is now an appropriate time to move on.”
While the performance of Aveng’s South African Construction business has been a major disappointment, Jardine added the rest of the group’s business is holding its own under very difficult market conditions. Commenting on the announcement Aveng Chairman Angus Band thanked Jardine for his commitment in steering the group through one of the most difficult periods the industry has faced and wished him well in his future endeavours. “Roger has played a primary role in managing the very complex regulatory process with the Competition Commission, as well as dealing with the consequent issues that arose as a result of the investigation. He has also had to manage the group in the midst of material economic uncertainty, which placed the sector as a whole under major pressure. Many of the changes introduced by Roger are now embedded in the group and will continue to have a positive impact on Aveng well into the future.”
The statement released by Aveng on Wednesday indicated that the Nominations Committee of the Board would be commencing the process to appoint a permanent CEO. According to the statement, Kobus Verster will assume the role of Acting CEO with effect from 1 September 2013. Verster joined Aveng as Financial Director in September 2010 and has served on all of the group’s subsidiary boards over the past three years, affording him insight into the operations, opportunities and constraints of the various group businesses.