* Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi to succeed Mokhele as chair
* Company flags as much as 40% HEPS decline
* HEPS hurt by COVID-19, restructuring costs and poor H1
* Will lose 302 mln rand from foregoing price increases (Adds details and earnings forecast)
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 21 (Reuters) - South African food producer Tiger Brands said on Friday Khotso Mokhele would step down as chairman of the board on Dec. 31.
Mokhele will be replaced by Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, a lead independent director at mining firm Exxaro, who will take over on Jan. 1 after a handover period starting from September.
Fraser-Moleketi, 60, served in various cabinet roles from 1996 to 2008, including as Minister of Public Service and Administration and Minister for Welfare and Population Development.
The owner of popular South African food brands Jungle Oats and Tastic rice also said it expected its headline earnings per share (HEPS) from total operations for the year ending Sept. 30 to fall between 35% and 40% from the 1,322 cents ($0.7693)reported a year earlier.
Excluding its Deli Foods business in Nigeria and processed meat business, which are both discontinued, HEPS - the main profit measure in South Africa that strips out certain one-off items - is expected to fall by up to 33%.
The firm blamed a poor first half performance, COVID-19 related costs of 255 million rand ($14.85 million) and restructuring costs estimated at about 70 million rand.
Tiger Brands also said it would lose 302 million rand in the period from deferring food price increases as part of government regulations to protect consumers during the lockdown.
It said the loss was significant when compared with an operating profit of 1.4 billion rand from continuing operations in the previous six-months period.
While revenues rose by 11% in the three months to June, thanks to increased at-home consumption, volumes in categories such as baby nutrition and products for the food services industry suffered.
$1 = 17.1756 rand Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Emma Rumney and Mark Potter
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