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Cement producer PPC’s CEO Darryll Castle has resigned, with immediate effect. Castle will be “available to ensure a smooth handover” for a period of six months, the company said in a statement.

Johan Claassen, the Managing Director of the South African cement business has been appointed as interim CEO of PPC Limited and as an executive director to the PPC Board, until such time as a permanent CEO and Executive Director is appointed. Claassen is an engineer and has served as a member of the PPC Group executive team since January 2013.

Darryl Castle PPC CEOCastle’s resignation follows shortly after former Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni resigned as an independent non-Executive Director and Chair of the Social, Ethics and Transformation Committee of the board of PPC. Castle took up PPC’s leadership in 2015, and was instrumental in stabilising the company and overseeing the commissioning of several new projects, according to PPC Chairman Peter Nelson.

PPC, which is busy negotiating a possible merger with Afrisam, saw shares drop to their lowest level in more than a year in response to Castle’s resignation. The company reported a 93% drop in annual earnings last month, but its outlook had been improving. Projects in Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo as well as the commissioning of a mill in Zimbabwe have increased PPC’s cement capacity to 11.4 million tonnes per annum.

Castle, who will be “pursuing other interests”, is the second PPC CEO to resign with immediate effect. Ketso Gordhan, who held the post until 2014, resigned due to differences of opinion with the board “regarding board procedures for the approval of certain decisions”. Bheky Sibya, PPC’s Chairman at the time, served as CEO until Castle’s appointment the following year.

Analysts were disappointed by Castle’s resignation. Afrifocus Securities equity analyst Tinashe Kambadza told Moneyweb that there have clearly been disagreements either with the company’s strategy in Africa or over the Afrisam deal, which raises more questions going forward. “Darryll Castle seemed to have steadied the company and the timing of this raises questions given the recent resignation of Tito Mboweni as well,” he said.

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