Business

Standard Bank to boost 'Africanness' after CEO resigns

Helen Nyambura-Mwaura

The new co-heads of Standard Bank has promised to sharpen the African focus following chief executive Jacko Maree's resignation announcement.

Under Jacko Maree's 13-year tenure, Standard Bank ramped up its overseas presence and aggressively added branches across Africa, a strategy that has been widely lauded. (Gallo)

The announcement by veteran chief executive Maree that he was stepping down came on Thursday.

Maree (57) will be succeeded by Sim Tshabalala, the head of South African operations who described himself as a "Zulu boy from Soweto", and investment banking head Ben Kruger.

"There is a wall of liquidity and capital coming through the African continent. But to win, we need to ramp up our Africanness," Tshabalala (45) told a news conference.

"There's been an understanding in the market that [Maree's] had a long tenure and that there could very well be a change, so it's not much of a surprise," said Steve Meintjes, head of research at brokerage Imara SP Reid.

"The fact that they are making internal appointments points to depth of management."

Under Maree's 13-year tenure, Standard Bank ramped up its overseas presence and aggressively added branches across Africa, a strategy that has been widely lauded.

But his attempt to push into other emerging markets such as Argentina, Turkey and Russia was seen as a costly blunder and the bank has since scaled back its ambitions outside Africa.

Trading with Asia
Tshabalala will remain head of the South African business and take on operations on the rest of the continent.

Kruger, who has been with the bank for 28 years, will stay in charge of personal and business banking, and corporate and investment banking.

On Maree's watch, Standard Bank sold a 20% stake to Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, a deal that highlighted China's growing role in Africa and Standard Bank's ambition to profit from trade with Asia.

Maree said he would stay on at the bank and use his wide contacts to generate business.

Kruger said Standard Bank was not intent on immediate acquisitions in Africa, where it already has 17 operations.

"We are not anti-small acquisitions but have nothing on the horizon that we are contemplating," the 53-year-old said.

Focus on Africa
South Africa's banks are focusing more on Africa, where the number of people without access to financial services is much higher than in their home market.

Rival FirstRand is making acquisitions on the continent to keep up with Standard, and Absa has bought up the African businesses of its parent Barclays to enlarge its presence to the north.

Standard Bank on Thursday reported an 8% rise in full-year profit, helped by double-digit growth in income from fees and lending. It said diluted headline earnings per share totalled 931.7 cents from 860.4 cents last year.

Its shares were slightly down at R115.93 on Thursday afternoon, lagging a firmer Top-40 index. – Reuters

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