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Life CEO hugs Mkhize, enthuses over NHI, then packs bags for Australia

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The out-of-the-blue resignation of Life Healthcare CEO Dr Shrey Viranna from has raised eyebrows, as well as sparked some pointed observations on social media, writes MedicalBrief.

A Business Day writes that “the decision comes as a surpise” and quotes the company, South Africa’s second-biggest private hospital group by market value, as saying that Viranna is “stepping down after almost two years at the helm with immediate effect” and is emigrating to Australia with his family.

“Dr Viranna is emigrating to Australia for personal and family reasons,” the group said in an update to shareholders.”  CFO Pieter van der Westhuizen has been appointed acting CEO, but will also retain his current position.

TimesSelect health journalist Katharine Child recounts on Twitter that she was last week attending a meeting at which Viranna “gushed about NHI and rushed over [and] hugged the health minister [Dr Zweli Mkhize] and told him how excited Life was about NHI. He defended NHI to me afterwards and suggested I needed media training. Truth – he is emigrating and quit. Corporates need balls.”

The report says Life restructured its offshore businesses under Viranna’s management. In June, the group concluded the sale of its stake in Indian hospital group Max Healthcare Institute for R3.7bn, the disposal of which resulted in an after-tax loss of R406m, because of the mark-to-market loss on the foreign exchange contracts, taken out to protect the proceeds. The report says the group is considering an exit from its Polish business ScanMed so it can focus on Alliance Medical abroad. ScanMed has been hit hard by government-imposed tariff cuts. Life would retain a footprint in Poland through Alliance Medical.

Full Business Day report

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