Sasol Picks Baloyi as CEO to Lead Firm Through Emission Plan

Sasol Picks Baloyi as CEO to Lead Firm Through Emission Plan

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(Bloomberg) — Sasol Ltd. picked energy operations and technology executive Simon Baloyi as the next chief executive officer of the fuel and chemical manufacturer, to help lead South Africa’s second-largest producer of greenhouse gases down a challenging path to reduce emissions.

Baloyi will take over in April, while CEO Fleetwood Grobler, who has led Sasol for four years, will remain in a executive advisory role at South Africa’s biggest company by revenue until December 2024, the company said in a statement Friday.

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Baloyi, 47, has held various management positions over two decades with the company and has master’s degrees in engineering management and chemical engineering. The board considered internal and external candidates for the job in a search that started in 2022. 

The change in leadership is scheduled to occur at a critical point for Sasol. Baloyi will have to convince investors that Sasol will be able to achieve its 30% emissions-reduction goal by 2030. The company plans to replace some of the coal it uses — to make synthetic fuel and chemicals — with natural gas. The company is also testing the viability of making green hydrogen.

Sasol’s shares, which have declined 24% this year, dropped 0.9% at 9:02 a.m. in Johannesburg.

It took a 35 billion-rand ($1.9 billion) writedown in August on a facility at the heart of its operations and warned of regulatory uncertainty in the country as its greenhouse gas emissions rose. Gas pricing, carbon tax clarity and constraints on the grid to add more renewable plants are other obstacles the company faces.

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Some investors have accused Sasol of having a vague plan to deal with emissions. Old Mutual Investment Managers said it will vote against a number of resolutions at the annual general meeting on Friday because of poor performance on climate targets. Ninety One Ltd. also plans to vote against Sasol’s climate report.

Another change among Sasol leadership was announced earlier this week when Sipho Nkosi, its chairman, stepped down. The company said Nkosi resigned to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest arising from an investment in an Australian gas explorer that could potentially supply the fuel and chemical manufacturer’s South African hub.

—With assistance from Rene Vollgraaff.

(Updates with details of succession throughout.)

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