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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

Steve Booy­sen

Maria Ramos

Jacko Ma­ree

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