Not your ordinary ou
SIZWE NXASANA’S appointment as CEO of FirstRand from the beginning of January 2010 was expected. The appointment of chief financial officer Johan Burger as chief operating officer came as more of a surprise.
Nxasana’s appointment is entirely appropriate and would have met with the approval of the Registrar
of Banks, the industry regulator, as well as the company’s founders, whose considerable personal wealth is tied to the fortunes of the group.
Nxasana, a chartered accountant by training and a former Telkom CEO, has been with the FirstRand Group for just three years.
By contrast, Burger has been with the bank since 1986, when he worked in RMB’s treasury division. The new COO has also put in time at FNB and Momentum, where he was involved in operational management before being appointed CFO of the group in 2001. Burger knows the group inside out and is a director of all its core subsidiaries. “I’ve been lucky,” he says, “to really understand the intricacies of banking and insurance.
FirstRand says it was Nxasana who recommended Burger’s appointment to the newly created COO role. Burger’s appointment is immediate, in an effort to avert Barloworld-type criticism from activist investors, such as the PIC and trades unions.
Nxasana will take up his new post only in January next year, when incumbent Paul Harris steps down.
“The role of CEO in a more complex group is different now and involves a lot more work with regulators and Government,” says chairman Laurie Dippenaar.
The power dynamics at the new FirstRand are going to be interesting to observe. Both Dippenaar and Harris will remain on the board. Dippenaar insists the new management team will be given the room it needs to run the business.