Absa announces first internal chief executive appointment since 2006

Almost a year after the shock departure of Daniel Mminele from the helm of Absa, the banking group has appointed Arrie Rautenbach as its new chief executive.

Absa announced on Tuesday that the appointment of Rautenbach, who served as the chief executive of the group’s retail and banking business, would be with immediate effect. Rautenbach is the first internally appointed chief executive since 2006.

Rautenbach said he was “humbled and honoured to lead Absa during challenging conditions locally and internationally”. 

“I look forward to working with the board and the executive in consolidating our strategy and performance, driving organisational and cultural transformation, and delivering financial and social value for all our stakeholders, and sustainable future growth and returns for Absa and its shareholders,” he added.

Mminele’s resignation was announced last April. His departure, reportedly resulting from ructions among Absa’s board, came just over a year after he was appointed to head the group in January 2020.

He described his departure as regrettable. “It is, however, important for the chief executive to be in complete alignment with the board on critical issues such as strategy and culture. I became enamoured of the brave, passionate and ready people of Absa and wish the group well for the future,” Mminele said.

Absa’s new chief executive has more than 25 years of banking experience, which includes serving as the group’s chief risk officer, the group said in a statement. 

Rautenbach began his career with the Absa group at Bankfin in the late 1990s.

“His extensive experience in the banking sector, his in-depth knowledge of Absa through several executive roles over the years, and his experience and strengths in strategy development and execution for the group, position him ideally to lead the group at this time.”

Wendy Lucas-Bull, outgoing Absa board chairperson, said Rautenbach’s appointment ensures the group is in good hands. 

“I am confident that his leadership will provide the continuity and stability necessary to consolidate our purpose and strategy,” she said.

Lucas-Bull is set to be replaced by Sello Moloko in April. “I am pleased to be handing over the chairmanship to Sello, with the group in very good shape, having delivered record results for 2021 and with strong capital and liquidity ratios,” she said.

Moloko’s appointment as Absa board chairperson was eclipsed after businessman Sipho Pityana publicly accused the Prudential Authority of allegedly flouting process by blocking his nomination for the position. Last November Absa announced it had fired Pityana as a director with immediate effect.

In its statement, Absa said that after careful consideration of the matter and Pityana’s responses to the allegations, “The boards arrived at the view that, among others, Mr Pityana pursued his own personal interests to the detriment of Absa and, thereby, created a material and sustained conflict between his interests and those of Absa”.

But in an interview with the Mail & Guardian shortly after his firing was announced, Pityana called Absa’s decision unlawful.

Rautenbach’s appointment “will anchor our performance and growth, as we consolidate our position as a leading financial services provider on the continent”, Moloko said.

“Arrie is aligned with the board on our organisational imperatives, including talent management and transformation. The board looks forward to working with Arrie and the executive to ensure a pan-African financial services group that creates sustainable value for all its stakeholders,” Moloko added. 

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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