Executive director and CEO of Caxton and CTP Publishers and Printers’ newspaper division, Piet Greyling, lost his battle against leukaemia on Monday night.
The 62-year-old media executive joined Caxton in 1998 after it merged with Perskor, where he was managing director.
Chairman of Caxton and CTP Publishers and Printers, Paul Jenkins, delivered the news to staff. “There are no words to express the shock of this unexpected news,” Jenkins said. “It is like Piet was the leader of the team and we were all cheering for him as he faced the hurdle of his leukaemia so bravely. He was doing so well and we all could see the old Piet back on his feet and interacting with us in his inimitable way. And now it is not to be, he is gone and it just feels like we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.”
In a SENS announcement on Tuesday, Caxton directors Jenkins, CEO Terry Moolman, and CFO, Tim Holden, said Greyling’s death was “untimely” after recently being diagnosed with leukaemia. They said he was an “integral member of the Caxton family”, and extended their condolence to Greyling’s wife Martie, sons Richardt and Armand and their immediate family, “as well as his wide-ranging and extensive circle of colleagues and friends, inside and outside the Caxton group. Piet leaves an indelible mark on our lives and he will be sorely missed”.
Publisher of The Citizen, Eureka Zandberg, said Greyling had “inspired with his sharp intellect, knowledge, wisdom, energy, courage and commitment.
“However, it was above all his ability to achieve success through others that made him such a beloved leader. He was strategic, yet tactical; tough, yet sensitive; decisive, yet inclusive,” she said, adding that Greyling was a “truly an authentic, down-to-earth gentleman”.
Greyling was an active member of the Publisher Research Council. “He offered guidance and direction to head of research, Peter Langschmidt, and I, and we valued his opinions,” said CEO Josephine Buys.
“A quick grasp of numbers and deep understanding of the newspaper sector supported his decision making abilities, while his wisdom and sense of responsibility contributed significantly to our strategies. He set challenging performance parameters, making it clear what he expected from PRC executives and fellow sub-committee members. He was always the first to put his hand up in support of our efforts and we will miss his sage advice and support.”
Greyling was widely respected by Caxton’s competitors too.
“Piet was a man of absolute integrity and commercial astuteness,” said Andrew Gill, managing director of Arena Holdings. “I always enjoyed negotiating with Piet as both parties walked away feeling a bit happy and a bit sore. He gave more than his fair share of time to the industry and was a great supporter of media in South Africa. His great sense of humour and no-nonsense honesty was appreciated by all. His untimely death is a great loss both professionally and personally.”
Caxton’s advertising arm, SPARK Media, said in a tweet:
“I always count on one hand the five smartest people I have ever met in advertising. Piet Greyling was one of them,” said advertising industry stalwart, Gordon Muller. “Tough as ysterhout, he didn’t suffer fools lightly. But he was always ready to listen to reason. This is a major blow to a publishing industry in dire need of leadership.”
Publisher Sandra Gordon added, “He was media shy and avoided the limelight, but he played an enormous role across the group. A straight talker who cut to the chase while others were fussing over non essentials, he was driven by results and at his enthusiastic best when the newspaper division broke turnover records,” she said.
“He was supportive and offered a steady hand to fellow board members, management and staff. A true and committed leader of a tribe of committed media people who looked to him as a beacon of honesty, humility and strength.”
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