reveals a lot
the group through what’s likely to be a treacherous 2009. He’s under no illusions the current six-month period will be tougher than the previous six months of last year, and that could very well impact the full year results as well.
Now 46, Booysen had been open about the fact he didn’t intend spending the rest of his working career at Absa and had indicated publicly he saw himself serving between five and seven years as CEO. His five-year tenure would have ended in August this year.
When Maria Ramos indicated she’d had her fill of Transnet and was serving as head of that public utility on a rolling contract once her five-year term expired last year, Absa chair Gill Marcus approached her to run the banking group – an appointment that was always going to be controversial, especially since she was intending to, and subsequently did, marry SA’s Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, the man who at least for now has final oversight of the country’s financial sector.
What now for Booysen? He hasn’t really had time to consider his options. The global financial meltdown has meant he and his executive team have had to focus on crisis management at the group’s operations on a daily basis. The fact Barclays plc brought forward its results to quell concerns in its own market about its future viability also meant its 2008 financial year needed to be wrapped up much more quickly than had been expected. There’s been very little time for detailed introspection and reflection.
Booysen won’t comment on rumours he’s been offered a job at Barclays – nor will he say whether he’s interested in taking one up were it offered to him.
He’s on “gardening leave” for six months but available to the bank should it need him. But he’s not expecting to receive many work-related calls. “That’s not the way it works in banking. Once you’re out you’re out,” he says.
Booysen, a former professor of accounting with a doctorate and book on accounting standards behind him, would be an attractive asset to chair audit committees on boards of large listed companies. Would that be something he’d be interested in?
Consider the second verse of his chosen song: “Like a rhinestone cowboy Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo Like a rhinestone cowboy Getting cards and letters from people I don't even know
And offers comin' over the phone”
“We’ll see if anybody wants me,” he says.