April 30, 2020 / 9:31 AM / a month ago

South Africa's PPC names CFO, domestic April sales volumes seen 95% lower

JOHANNESBURG, April 30 (Reuters) - South African cement producer PPC said on Thursday it had appointed Ronel van Dijk permanent chief financial officer and warned overall South Africa sales volumes for April will be around 95% lower compared to the same month in 2019.

The appointment of Van Dijk, who has been in the role in an acting capacity since November, follows the resignation of Tryphosa Ramano to pursue personal interests.

PPC said in a statement Van Dijk’s appointment provides the company with continuity for all activities that she initiated since starting her role as interim CFO on November 1.

At the end of March, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced one of the toughest lockdowns anywhere in the world, banning anyone but essential workers from leaving home except to buy food or medicine, when South Africa had just 400 cases.

During the lockdown only PPC Lime operated, selling small quantities to essential customers in South Africa, while the group’s other businesses have generally been operationally constrained in their respective jurisdictions in April, it said.

It expects overall sales volumes in South Africa for April to be around 95% lower compared to April 2019 “due to the stringent lock down measures.”

PPC South Africa is preparing to start production from Friday, when the five-week long lockdown is partially lifted, to operate in line with the risk based regulations.

Under amended level four lockdown regulations, cement, other construction material and hardware firms will be allowed to operate with up to 50% of their workforce from Friday.

“Together with the other members of the Industry Association a request has been made to the Government to support the local industry, expedite construction work and implement the announced measures around infrastructure development and giving priority to local manufacturing,” it said.

Outside of South Africa, PPC Barnet in the DRC has been able to operate and is expected to produce similar volumes compared to the same period last year.

Two other PPC businesses, CIMERWA and PPC Zimbabwe, have partially resumed operations in Rwanda and Zimbabwe in the second half of April. Cement sales volumes in these countries are expected to be around 15 to 20% of the volumes sold in April 2019, PPC said.

The group said it has implemented various cost reduction and cash preservation measures to protect liquidity through and after the lockdown, while committed facilities show sufficient headroom in South Africa under various economic scenarios.

“The company is also continuously engaging with international funders to ensure sufficient liquidity in its international operations,” PPC said.

Its debt refinancing and restructuring plan announced in October is continuing as planned, it added. (Reporting by Tumelo Modiba Editing by Nqobile Dludla, William Maclean)

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