Finweek English Edition - - Openers - BRUCE WHIT­FIELD

ABSA’S MOST RE­CENT ap­point­ment to head its high-turnover com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­part­ment has quit af­ter less than three months in the po­si­tion. For­mer SABMiller pub­lic af­fairs man­ager Adrian Botha has had one of the short­est stays in of­fice in a po­si­tion that’s seen five other high-profile ex­ec­u­tives leave since 2003. Botha is the fourth per­son in the po­si­tion since Bar­clays plc bought a con­trol­ling stake in Absa 18 months ago.

Botha’s pre­de­ces­sors in­clude Douglas Ramaphosa, who left Absa to join An­glo Amer­i­can; mar­keter An­gela Bruwer; and, un­til fairly re­cently, Nick Cairns, who had served African Bank be­fore join­ing Absa. Cairns left soon af­ter the Bar­clays takeover.

Mar­ket­ing guru Bren­dan O’Don­nell was briefly in the swiv­el­ling seat be­fore his sud­den shift to the Mar­ket­ing Fed­er­a­tion of SA. His suc­ces­sor, Ken­neth Clarke, also had a short ten­ure and the de­part­ment was left with­out a head for some months be­fore Botha’s ap­point­ment.

It all im­plies that there are se­ri­ous is­sues – at least within the group’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­vi­sion.

“There’s no prob­lem,” says a spokesman. “Absa is a rapidly evolv­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion. You do get ca­su­al­ties when you get the kind of growth we’ve had.”

Per­haps what’s most telling is that not one of the six com­mu­ni­ca­tions heads has re­mained within the group. All have left the busi­ness. It’s un­clear what the cir­cum­stances of Botha’s de­par­ture are, as he de­clined to com­ment – de­spite re­peated prom­ises by Absa that it would is­sue a state­ment con­cern­ing his res­ig­na­tion. Absa had failed to do so by the time of writ­ing.

Absa was once proud of its sta­tus as “Best com­pany to work for” in sub­se­quent re­views in 2002/2003. How­ever, nu­mer­ous changes have oc­curred since the Bar­clays takeover and many of those have hap­pened at se­nior level. The group’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee has seen five of its mem­bers leave of­fice over the past year.

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