March 4, 2019 / 2:04 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-South Africa's Bidvest confirms Madisa as CEO-in-waiting

* Appoints insider Mpumi Madisa as CEO designate

* Current CEO will continue in his role till FY 2021

* HEPS (headline earnings per share ) up 9.6 pct

* Bidvest shares down 0.07 pct to 211.46 rand at 1350 GMT (Recasts with CEO designate)

By Nqobile Dludla

JOHANNESBURG, March 4 (Reuters) - South African conglomerate Bidvest confirmed on Monday that executive director Mpumi Madisa will succeed Lindsay Ralphs as chief executive from 2021, as it reported rising earnings in the last six months of 2018.

Madisa, 39, will work closely with Ralphs until the 2021 financial year, the trading, distribution, and services firm said, without giving any details on Ralphs’ future.

“This is consistent with a comprehensive succession plan that was developed and has been executed over the past several years to specifically mentor and continue her (Madisa’s) preparation for the chief executive role,” Bidvest said.

Madisa, who joined Bidvest in 2003, has held strategic leadership roles at subsidiary, divisional and group level.

She is an executive director on the Bidvest Group board and holds other external non-executive director roles, including at Adcock Ingram and Business Leadership South Africa.

“When I started here I didn’t think I’d go all the way to the top but certainly over the last six years Lindsay and I have been working towards this moment, so I’m really honoured to be in this position,” Madisa told Reuters after the results.

Ralphs, who joined the company in 1992, is 63 and took over from founder Brian Joffe in May 2016 after a deal to spin off the Bidvest’s food business.

Bidvest shares were down 0.07 percent to 211.46 rand at 1350 GMT.

POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY

Bidvest, whose business still spans freight, automotive, aviation services and office and print, reported a 9.6 percent rise in headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the six months ended December to 629.1 cents from 574 cents a year earlier.

Normalised HEPS, which exclude acquisition costs and amortisation of acquired customer contracts, were 635.7 cents, while the group’s trading profit increased 6.3 percent to 3.3 billion rand ($233 million).

The results were bolstered by services, freight and office and print divisions, despite a sluggish economy and political uncertainty, the group said, ahead of elections in May.

The services division’s trading profit broke through the 1 billion rand mark, with strong domestic and overseas growth underscoring its annuity nature, Bidvest said, while office and print’s result “was pleasing” given structural decline.

The freight division’s trading profit rose 8.6 percent to 700.1 million rand. Freight volumes were buoyant for the first four months, but slowed in the last two.

Bidvest, which also operates in financial services and automotive retailing, declared an interim dividend of 282 cents per share, up 10.6 percent. ($1 = 14.1618 rand) ($1 = 14.1550 Namibian dollars) (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Shreejay Sinha and Alexander Smith)

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