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Dudu Myeni m.i.a as SAA looks to crash and burn

Dudu Myeni m.i.a as SAA looks to crash and burn

Chairperson of the board for South African Airways, Dudu Myeni, has been missing in action (m.i.a) as the board attempts to find a way to prevent the state-owned enterprise from crashing and burning.

SAA has been in financial difficulties for some time now, but these have been exacerbated in the last few months as the maturity date for a loan from Standard Chartered Bank draws near. The company needs to repay R2.3 billion to the bank by the end of this month, and executives have been scrambling to find the money.

The board has been meeting as much as three times per week for the last while in order to find a solution to the problem.

Board chairperson Myeni has missed around eight of these meetings since April. Board members are now seeking legal advice on how to proceed on the issue of Myeni's absence, the Mail & Guardian reports. 

A board member confirmed that there were "strong personalities on this board", but was uncertain of the reasons behind Myeni's absences.

In September last year, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and the Treasury appointed a new board to turn around the beleaguered airline.

"It's all hands on deck to try and avoid a default and also make sure SAA remains a going concern. We're doing our damnedest to make sure the financial distress issue is managed," a board member is reported to have said.

The company reported spending R1.2 billion on loan repayments, and has had to survive by borrowing funds to make repayments and extending loan terms.

A board member has said that the board is considering, amongst others, approaching a consortium of South African banks to extend a line of credit or requesting the United Kingdom-based Standard Chartered Bank to hold off on calling on the repayment until October, when Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba is expected to announce a cash bailout for the airline.

But recent political developments and policy uncertainty flagged by ratings agencies has left Standard Chartered very concerned.

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