NYEMBEZI-HEITA was making steady progress in building German-listed IchorCoal by snapping up undervalued coal assets in South Africa with the backing of the company’s chairman, German millionaire Lars Windhorst. This included the purchase of some of Continental Coal’s assets which, added to IchorCoal’s existing asset base, made for a handy platform. Then IchorCoal’s takeover bid for Universal Coal, in which IchorCoal already held 29.99%, caught the eye of David Brown of Coal of Africa, who stepped in with a higher offer. At the time of writing, IchorCoal had not indicated whether it would enter a hostile bidding war, but its unlikely Nyembezi-Heita will back down unless there’s no value to be had in a fight. She learnt rapidly as CEO of ArcelorMittal SA (AMSA) that the mining industry is a combative one. Shortly after she joined AMSA in March 2008 the drawn-out dispute began with Kumba Iron Ore over AMSA’s right to favourably-priced supply from the Sishen Iron Ore Mine. At the same time she had to deal with other problems, including government pressure for a ‘developmental’ steel price for the local market and a global collapse in steel prices. The issues facing IchorCoal may be smaller, and less in the public eye, but they still need a redoubtable CEO.
LIFE OF NONKULULEKO
Its hard to imagine stylish Nku suspended from an electricity pylon, but she actually studied electrical engineering and holds a master’s degree from the California Institute of Technology. Before heading ArcelorMittal SA, she was the head of mergers and acquisitions at Vodacom. She is currently also the chairman of the JSE.
- Web Address: www.ichorcoal.com