MEETS SA'S BANK CEO
So Barclays CEO Anthony Jenkins says that Maria Ramos has done a good job running the group’s African business and he hopes to continue working with her for many years to come. It ’s an endorsement Ramos will welcome following the public roasting that she and the group’s executive team received at the most recent Absa (now Barclays Africa) f inancial results presentation. The most severe criticism came from the irate toprated banks analyst Henry Hall, who pointedly and publicly criticised results that failed to meet market expectations as “disappointing”. At the same presentation Hall said there was a disconnect between the apparent satisfaction of management with their achievements and the bank’s actual performance.
Jenkins’ endorsement of the performance of Barclays A frica under Ramos’ nearly f ive-year tenure is interesting considering the substan
tial under- per f or mance of t he group’s shares relative to those of its rivals, which have done far better over t he same p e r i o d. Our g r a ph shows the total return t hat South African banks have delivered to shareholders over the past f ive years and it has been pretty impressive – fuelled by growth in retail banking and particularly by the substantial profit margins t hey have earned on unsecured lending.
Whi l e Ba r c l a y s Africa has substantially underperformed its peers, Ramos did receive a hospital pass in many respects when she took over from Steve Booysen. Not that she knew it at the time but she inherited a couple of lemons when she took over in January 2009 – among them the debacle in single stock futures which caused the bank to write off some R1.3bn and an overextended loan book, which she has had to reign in since she took over. It has cost market share but she’s previously defended her actions to this magazine as necessary to stabilise the business.
It doesn’t change the fact though, that Barclays Africa is the country’s worst performing big bank share since her appointment in January 2009. It does raise the question, therefore, as to who is South Africa’s best bank CEO?
Recently-retired Standard Bank CEO Jacko Maree may have been the f irst white person honoured by the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (ABSIP) as being key to driv ing t r a ns f or mat i on i n the f inancial services sector. He is rightly lauded as being a powerful and instrumental leader who w a s w i d e l y respected throughout his career in investment banking and l ater his t enure a s bank CEO. After all, it