LAWRENCE OF ARA­BIA

Finweek English Edition - - Companies & Markets - BRUCE WHIT­FIELD brucew@fin­week.co.za

BANK­ING GROUP ABSA has lost two se­nior hu­man re­sources ex­ec­u­tives in a mat­ter of weeks. The res­ig­na­tions come amid one of the firm’s big­gest cor­po­rate re­struc­tur­ings un­der­taken in re­cent years. How­ever, out­go­ing HR di­rec­tor Lawrence Mlotshwa says there’s no cri­sis within the divi­sion. He’ll re­main in his po­si­tion till year-end, when he’ll join par­ent com­pany Bar­clays plc’s emerg­ing mar­kets busi­ness head­quar­tered in Dubai.

Absa’s re­cently ap­pointed head of tal­ent man­age­ment, Phil Mnisi, is sac­ri­fic­ing his cor­po­rate am­bi­tions to serve as deputy gov­er­nor at the Swazi­land Re­serve Bank.

Their re­place­ments haven’t yet been an­nounced.

Sources tell Fin­week Mlotshwa had been in­tent on leav­ing the group but had been con­vinced to join the Dubaibased busi­ness of Bar­clays, which re­lo­cated there from Jo­han­nes­burg more than a year ago. But whether he’ll re­lo­cate his fam­ily there re­mains a bone of con­tention, as he’s ea­ger to re­main domi­ciled in SA.

Mlotshwa has been HR di­rec­tor for less than two years. He took over from Al­lan Fielder at end-2006, when he re­turned to Bar­clays af­ter his sec­ond­ment to Absa. The af­fa­ble Mlotshwa had pre­vi­ously been head of or­gan­i­sa­tional de­vel­op­ment. He sees new op­por­tu­nity in the Bar­clays post. “I’ve been as­tounded by the level of tal­ent in the bank­ing sec­tor in other parts of Africa – it gives me great hope for the con­ti­nent,” he says.

It’s un­der­stood that Mnisi, who only joined Absa ear­lier this year af­ter a stint as CEO of the In­sti­tute of Bankers, had been frus­trated with the level of work he was given. He de­clined to elab­o­rate on the rea­sons for his de­par­ture but de­scribed the move as ex­cit­ing and of­fer­ing “bet­ter prospects”. He is a for­mer deputy MD of Stan­dard Bank Swazi­land and started his ca­reer as an in­vest­ment project an­a­lyst at the Swazi­land In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Com­pany in 1992.

So far this year Absa has cut more than 60 gen­eral man­agers’ po­si­tions at head of­fice and re­cently an­nounced it would elim­i­nate more than 400 more re­gional man­age­ment jobs in its ef­forts to stream­line its op­er­a­tions and make the group, which is con­trolled by Bar­clays, more ef­fi­cient.

In July, Absa said it was putting a freeze on new posts and would al­low nat­u­ral at­tri­tion to stream­line its staff num­bers, as an­a­lysts fore­cast slower earn­ings for SA’s bank­ing sec­tor for the next 18 months.

No cri­sis. Lawrence Mlotshwa

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