Dramatic board changes at Huge Group

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 24 Oct 2022
Huge Group CEO James Herbst.
Huge Group CEO James Herbst.

Three directors, including chairman of the JSE-listed Huge Group, resigned on Friday.

The company announced the surprise departure of chairman Duarte da Silva, Dr Craig Lyons and Professor Brian Armstrong through the Stock Exchange News Service.

Huge Group has since appointed Veran Kathan as new independent non-executive chairman, Mike Beamish as non-executive director, and Izak van de Merwe as new chief commercial officer and executive director.

“The board wishes to extend its gratitude to Dr Da Silva, Dr Lyons and Professor Armstrong for their valuable contribution to the company during their tenures,” reads the company statement.

Kathan, Huge Group’s new chairman, is a qualified chartered accountant who holds a BCompt (Hons) from UNISA, and a Higher Diploma in Taxation from the University of Johannesburg.

He also completed the senior management development programme at the University of the Witwatersrand.

“Veran is an established corporate executive and entrepreneur. He is currently a shareholder and the managing director of The Specialists Franchise Group, which has been operating since 1978 and has more than 70 branches in Southern Africa, who offer pest control, hygiene and cleaning services. He also currently serves as chairman of the Vodacom Group Pension Fund and a member of its investment committee and as a member and the chairman of the Vodacom Group Provident Fund,” Huge says.

On Beamish, the company says: “Mike is the founder and chief investment officer of Praesidium Capital Management, an investment company that was founded in 2003. Mike has extensive experience in the investment management industry, and he has a successful track record in the management of various hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, derivative and listed equity investments.

“Mike specialises in finding fast-growing businesses that have global scale. He represents the largest shareholding in Huge Group and, given the recent change by Huge Group to become an Investment Holding company, Mike has made himself available to use his skills in this regard by service to the board.”

Huge Group says Van de Merwe has significant experience in developing and successfully executing business strategies.

“Zak is a telecoms and technology leader who has worked across multiple vertical market segments and on projects in more than 20 geographic regions across the African continent. Up until very recently, he was the CEO and an executive director of Virgin Mobile South Africa, having been approached by the board in 2019 to step in and facilitate a business turnaround.

“He oversaw the placement of the business into business rescue and after a 24-month process, joined the team of Huge Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary company of Huge, as its commercial and operations director.”

The board changes at the company led by CEO James Herbst come at a time Huge Group is diversifying its portfolio by acquiring entities whose revenues are generated from cloud, software and x-tech.

As part of the strategy, Huge has since acquired Glovent Solutions, which Herbst said gives the company “an exciting entry into markets and industries that are key investment focus areas of ours”.