FirstRand appoints Nxasana as group CEO

FirstRand has appointed Sizwe Nxasana, head of its core banking unit and a former chief of telecoms firm Telkom, as its new chief executive.

Nxasana will be the first black CEO of a major South African banking group when he succeeds Paul Harris as group CEO at the end of this year, and will join only a handful of black executives running one of the country’s top-40 blue chips.

Analysts said the appointment of Nxasana, who has been at the helm of FirstRand Bank for more than three years, signalled continuity at South Africa’s number two banking group.

“Sizwe has been a decent CEO of the bank, and in terms of the group revenue, that’s really where the bulk of it actually sits,” a Johannesburg-based bank analyst said.

“So no real issues with his appointment ... It ensures continuity in terms of management.”

The company said Johan Burger had been appointed chief operating officer of FirstRand Group with immediate effect, and would also retain his position as financial director.

FirstRand shares were down 0,7% at R13,22 at 11am GMT, while the Johannesburg banking index was down 0,5%.

Nxasana, a chartered accountant, succeeded Harris as head of FirstRand Bank on January 1, 2006, and has been a non-executive director at the bank since 2003.

In his previous job he was credited with steering Telkom through a public listing and into profitability before he quit the state-controlled firm in 2005.

Nxasana founded Nkonki Sizwe Ntsaluba, the first black-owned national firm of accountants in 1996 before joining Telkom, and also served on the NBS Boland Board with Harris in 1995. - Reuters


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