French National Order of Merit awarded to Mark Wilson
On September 10th 2009 the executive chairman of Alstom South Africa, Mark Wilson, was awarded a knighthood in the French National Order of Merit.
Speech of His Excellency, Mr. Denis Pietton, Ambassador of France in South Africa, on the occasion of the “Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite” Award conferred to Mr. Mark Wilson
September 10th, 2009
"It gives me great pleasure to be with you today, Mr. Wilson, with all your family, friends and business partners, on the occasion of this ceremony to bestow upon you the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite.
This title is granted by the President of the French Republic in recognition of distinguished achievements and exceptional contributions to France.
I’m therefore delighted that today’s ceremony is to honor you, Mr. Wilson, for your outstanding role in supporting the development of French business in South Africa and in strengthening our bilateral economic relationship.
It is customary in such circumstances to highlight the decisive phases of the career of the recipient and to praise his exceptional achievements. I will, with your permission Mr. Wilson, carry on with this tradition.
Born in Durban, you studied business and accounting at the University of Witwatersrand and you passed the Chartered Accountants Board Examination in 1982.
After a few years with an auditing firm, you joined Alstom in 1988 and since then you have held various financial and managerial positions in the company. You were appointed as Chairman of Electrical Machines in 1993 and Group Managing Director of Alstom South Africa in 1996. In 1997 you were appointed Alstom Country President and in 1998 you took charge as Executive Chairman of Alstom South Africa.
In 2002, Alstom decided to sell the majority of the equity in its subsidiary, Alstom South Africa. This gave you the opportunity to lead a management buyout of the Alstom South African business, in partnership with banks and black empowerment groups. The success of the buyout was based on key technical partnerships with Alstom and Areva and the introduction of very strong BEE partners.
This new set-up has worked to perfection, in great part because the leaders of the two companies, you Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Philippe Joubert, President of Alstom Power, worked closely together to ensure its success. The presence today of Mr. Philippe Joubert bears witness to the strength of this relationship.
Over the years, the result of this partnership is indeed amazing. Alstom has positioned itself as the leader in the Power Generation market in South Africa with a global market share of about 80 per cent. And Alstom South Africa has dramatically developed its portfolio in the energy market, employing a workforce of more than five thousand now.
Based on this very strong position, Alstom had the competitive edge to win three major contracts with Eskom : in 2006 the retrofit and upgrade of the Arnot Power Station, and in 2007 and 2008 the supply of the power generation equipment for the giant Medupi and Kusile power plants, among the largest built in the world.
Your leadership and your vision, Mr. Wilson, have been truly instrumental in this success story for your company, for Alstom and for French business. You have also shown the way business should take part in building the future of South Africa, with a total commitment to the national objectives of empowerment and employment equity. I understand that new developments are under way very soon for your company to better meet the local market conditions and requirements.
Last but not least, I wish to emphasize that you are a true friend of France. I can testify that you have always supported all the events organized by this Embassy to promote French business in South Africa and strengthen trade relations between our two countries.
I am therefore particularly happy that the French Authorities have decided to reward you officially and to confer upon you the award of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.
M. Mark Wilson, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous remettons les insignes de Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite".