Absa criticised for appointing white CEO

The Public Investment Corporation, Africa’s biggest fund manager, criticised Absa Group, one of South Africa’s largest banks, for appointing a white chief executive officer.

Absa on Tuesday (29 March) said it had appointed Arrie Rautenbach as chief executive, almost a year after Daniel Mminele, the bank’s first black chief executive officer, quit unexpectedly.

The PIC has written to Absa’s board to express its “downright disappointment” with the announcment, it said in a statement on Friday. “The PIC expected that the board would have placed the required focus on transformation in the process to recruit a new CEO.”

The PIC, which owns 6.7% of Absa, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, has asked for an urgent meeting with the bank’s board.

Rautenbach is currently Absa’s chief executive: Retail and Business Banking (RBB). He joined Absa in 1997 and has held several senior roles over the years, including chief risk officer, chief executive: Retail Banking South Africa, managing executive: Absa Card and managing executive: Branch Network, Absa Bank.

He has a Bachelors and a Masters in Business Administration (both from the University of North-West: Potchefstroom) and completed an Advanced Management Program at INSEAD.

Jason Quinn, currently interim group CEO, will resume his role as financial director of Absa Group and Absa Bank, effective immediately, and remain an executive director on the boards. Quinn held this position from August 2016 to April 2021.

Punki Modise, currently interim financial director of Absa Group and Absa Bank, will relinquish these roles and step down as an executive director of the boards, with immediate effect. She will take the position of interim chief executive: RBB and remains on the group executive committee.

With additional commentary from Absa. 

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Absa criticised for appointing white CEO