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Healthcare group saddened by passing of Meyer Kahn

Thevendrie Brewer, chair of Netcare, today expressed her profound sadness at the passing of the highly regarded South African business leader, Meyer Kahn.
Source: Supplied. The late Meyer Khan.
Source: Supplied. The late Meyer Khan.

A former chair and longstanding member of the board of Netcare, Kahn passed away at the age of 82 at Netcare Milpark Hospital on Thursday, 2 June 2022.

“We at Netcare mourn the loss of a businessman of immense stature. We have lost not only a talented and highly respected business leader, but a widely admired and courageous fellow South African. The board and the management of Netcare will always be grateful to Mr Kahn for the extraordinary contribution he has made to Netcare during his 17-year long term of office,” added Brewer.

Fellow Netcare board member and friend, advocate Kgomotso Moroka, remembers Meyer Kahn with deep affection. “I got to know Meyer as a university student through my parents who were anti-apartheid activists. Meyer always supported my mother’s projects such as the Housewives League and others, and was very involved with the anti-apartheid work both my mother and father did. He was committed to fighting apartheid in the most practical way possible through upliftment and training,” she recalls.

“Meyer Kahn went much further than most white South Africans and truly knew right from wrong. He was a courageous visionary with whom I had many robust arguments. More than anything, he was forthright and spoke his mind and was impassioned about what he believed in. There will never be anyone like Meyer Kahn – he saw the big picture. He believed in people,” says advocate Moroka.

Meyer Kahn’s achievements were many and he received numerous awards throughout his career, including being nominated one of the five Top Businessmen in South Africa (1983), Marketing Man of the Year (1987), Business Manager of the Year (1990), and the Award for Business Excellence from the University of the Witwatersrand Business School.

He was honoured by the University of Pretoria as Professor Extraordinary and awarded an honorary Doctorate in Commerce. In 2000 he was presented with the South African Police Star for Outstanding Service (SOE).

“Generations of South Africans benefitted from Meyer Kahn’s characteristic blend of remarkable business acumen, razor-sharp insights, sociability and forthright nature,” comments Netcare chief executive, Dr Richard Friedland.

“As a longstanding board member and later chair of Netcare, he imparted extraordinary wisdom and was a mentor to so many of us. For those of us who were privileged to engage with him, he was a larger than life, generous person who said it directly and exactly as he saw it. We came to love and respect him.

“On behalf of the Netcare family I wish to express our sincere condolences to his wife Lynette, his daughters Deanne and Hayley, grandchildren and extended family. Meyer Kahn has left an indelible footprint and enduring legacy in the business landscape of South Africa and will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege to know him,” concluded Dr Friedland.

A distinguished corporate career

Born on 29 June 1939 in Pretoria, Gauteng, Meyer Kahn, BA (Law), MBA (UP), DCom (hc), SOE had a distinguished corporate career. During his lifetime he served on the boards of 16 listed companies and as a trustee of numerous organisations. He was past president of the South African Foundation and was also a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council.

Meyer Kahn entered the business world in Pretoria as a junior manager with the OK Bazaars retail chain. After rapid progress, he occupied executive positions in both Afcol and Amrel. In 1977, he returned to the OK Group as chief executive officer.

He served as group managing director of SABMiller plc (formerly South African Breweries) from 1983 after joining SABMiller in 1966, where he occupied executive positions in several of the retail interests. He was executive chairman of SABMiller plc from 1990 to July 2012 and served as executive director from December 1981 to July 2012.

In August 1997, Kahn commenced a two-and-a-half year secondment to the South African Police Service as its chief executive. He co-founded AfroCentric Investment Corporation Limited in 2006 and served as its lead independent non executive director.

After serving on the board of Netcare for more than 17 years, he retired from the Board of the company on 31 March, 2018. During this time, he served as chairman of the board from November 2015 until March 2018.

Read more: Netcare, SAPS

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