Metair’s CEO Resigns, Ford Project Accelerates, and Antitrust Heat

  • CEO Resignation: Metair's CEO, Mr. Sjoerd Douwenga, resigns due to health reasons, prompting a search for his successor.
  • Ford Project Update: The Ford Project in South Africa progresses as planned, with positive developments in Hesto Harnesses' commercial negotiations.
  • Antitrust Concerns: Metair and its subsidiary, Rombat S.A., face European Commission's antitrust scrutiny over potential violations in automotive batteries.
By Lethabo Ntsoane

In a recent announcement, Metair Investments Limited revealed that Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Sjoerd Douwenga is set to resign from his position and as an executive director effective January 31, 2024, citing health reasons. Having served on the board since 2014, initially as Chief Financial Officer and later as CEO, Douwenga’s departure marks the end of an era for the company.

The Board expressed gratitude for Douwenga’s dedicated service and wished him well in his future endeavors. Currently, a recruitment process is underway to identify a suitable successor, with a comprehensive plan in place to ensure a seamless leadership transition. To facilitate this shift, Douwenga has committed to remaining available until March 31, 2024, ensuring an orderly handover.

Ford Project Update: Positive Momentum Amid Challenges

Metair’s operational update provided insights into the progress of the Ford Project in South Africa, a pivotal element for the Automotive Components Vertical. The report indicates that the project is on track, and investee companies associated with it continue to meet expectations. Notably, Hesto Harnesses, a Metair associate, has seen positive developments in commercial negotiations.

Ford Project ProgressOn track as per expectations
Hesto Harnesses UpdatePositive progress in commercial negotiations
Commercial AdjustmentPending final approval; expected July 2023
Hesto’s Strategic MoveAppoints Mr. Theo Loock as consultant till March 2024

The negotiation includes a proposed commercial price adjustment, set to compensate for increased product design complexities during the ramp-up phase. This adjustment is anticipated to substantially boost Hesto’s revenues and operating profit for the remaining model life. Furthermore, Hesto has taken internal measures to enhance efficiencies and reduce costs. To provide operational and strategic guidance to Hesto, Mr. Theo Loock has been appointed as a consultant until March 2024.

European Commission’s Statement of Objections: Antitrust Concerns

On Thursday, November 30, 2023, Metair and its Romanian subsidiary, Rombat S.A., received an advance copy of a Statement of Objections from the European Commission. The Statement outlines concerns that Manufacturers, including Rombat, may have violated EU antitrust rules in the realm of automotive lead-acid starter batteries from 2004 to 2017.

Key PointsDetails
Date of ObjectionsNovember 30, 2023
Focus of ConcernsPotential antitrust violations between 2004 and 2017
Response DeadlineWithin 2 months (deadline extendable)
Confidentiality ObligationsProhibits disclosure of further information at this stage

Rombat, like all Metair Group companies, is committed to conducting its business in full compliance with European law. It’s important to note that the Statement does not constitute a definitive ruling, and a final determination will be made after the Commission evaluates Rombat’s detailed response, in line with EU Competition Law procedures.

Despite the challenges posed by the CEO’s resignation and the European Commission’s antitrust concerns, Metair remains focused on its commitments to stakeholders, shareholders, and compliance with regulations. The company assures stakeholders that the leadership team is stable, experienced, and actively working towards a smooth transition. Further updates on these developments are expected as the situations unfold.

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Lethabo Ntsoane

Lethabo Ntsoane holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of South Africa. He is a Financial Product commentator at Rateweb. He is an expect financial product analyst with years of experience in reviewing products and offering commentary. Lethabo majors in financial news, reviews and financial tips. He can be contacted: Email: Twitter: @NtsoaneLethabo