Absa’s share price was up almost 2 percent when markets opened to trade at R178.33 after news broke that Maria Ramos will retire from Absa Group and Absa Bank at the end of February 2019. René van Wyk will take over on 1 March 2019 as interim chief executive until a suitable replacement is found.
Van Wyk has been an independent non-executive director on the boards since February 2017. He was previously the Registrar of Banks within the South African Reserve Bank and retired from that position in May 2016. Van Wyk has 19 years of experience with Nedbank, including as Executive Director of Risk for the then listed Nedcor Investment Bank. He was also Chief Executive Officer of Imperial Bank.
Ramos has been Group Chief Executive for 10 years. Absa is South Africa’s third largest lender. As stated by Bloomberg it lags FirstRand, Nedbank Group and Standard Bank Group “in the average number of products per customer and the loyalty of its clients. It has also lost market share among the youth, mass market, middle income and affluent groups. And, to top it all, Absa was 2018’s worst performer in the six-member South African banking index”.
In a Sens statement the African bank says, Ramos has led the “group through significant milestones, including the aftermath of the global financial crisis and acquiring the Barclays Africa subsidiary banks in 2013.
“She had indicated a desire to step down earlier, but agreed to see the group through the separation negotiations with Barclays PLC, the ensuing sell-down and key separation milestones, including PLC achieving regulatory deconsolidation and refreshing Absa’s brand identity. With the separation on track and our new strategy as a standalone financial institution in place, Maria feels that this is the right time to retire.