Barclays Africa bosses face chop as Maria Ramos gets bank back into Absa shape

EDINBURGH — After a failed attempt by South African banking group Absa to reinvent itself as Barclays Africa, the company is being pared down as its CEO Mario Ramos gets back to business basics. Absa was transformed into Barclays Africa after London-listed Barclays moved in to take a controlling stake of the Johannesburg-listed Absa in 2013. But after Barclays faced a number of scandals, including the involvement of its employees in Libor rigging which entailed fraudulently manipulating global interest rates, its London bosses had a rethink on global operations. Barclays decided to exit from South Africa, reducing its holding last year as the country was reeling from the details of the state capture scandal. But, since then, power has been wrestled from Jacob Zuma and there are efforts to clean up and rebuild South Africa. Absa, meanwhile, is moving to strip back costs and become more nimble in the new, more business-friendly, era. – Jackie Cameron

By Roxanne Henderson

Bloomberg – Barclays Africa Group Ltd. may halve the number of top jobs at its South African retail and business bank as it reorganises after its British parent cut its stake, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Johannesburg-based lender started talks to consult executives on a plan that may result in the reduction of top management posts in the unit to 12 from 27 to flatten the company’s management structure, the person said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Once the consultation process is completed, the jobs will be advertised and executives who aren’t selected for the posts will be considered for employment elsewhere in the company, the person said.

Maria Ramos speaks during the Group of Thirty (G30) International Banking Seminar in Washington, D.C, in this file photo. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg

Barclays Africa is reverting to the Absa Group name and revamping its strategy after Barclays Plc cut its controlling stake to below 15 percent to trim back its international operations. Chief Executive Officer Maria Ramos is embarking on a second round of top management changes after announcing in April that she is refocusing the company around four main divisions – retail and business banking, corporate and investment banking, rest of Africa, and wealth management and insurance.

The South African retail and business banking division “is the first to commence a process of overhauling its structure” so that it fits with an organizational culture built around entrepreneurial drive and accountability, while “restoring market leadership in our core businesses,” Barclays Africa said in an emailed response to questions. “The aim is to create businesses that are agile” and collaborate well, it said, declining to comment further until the process is complete.

On the Payroll

The lender is seeking to double revenue from its business in the rest of the continent to 12 percent, while regaining market share among consumers in South Africa, where the retail and business banking unit accounts for more than half of the group’s earnings. Arrie Rautenbach, the CEO of the retail and business bank, will keep his job, the person said.

Plans to cut the number of executive jobs come a month after Deputy Chief Executive David Hodnett, who in May last year was put in charge of the retail bank, resigned before completing a two-month sabbatical. Each person affected by the changes could remain on the bank’s payroll for up to three months before making a decision to either stay with the company or move on, the person said.

Craig Bond, the chief executive officer of partnerships, joint ventures and strategic alliances, stepped down on Thursday after choosing to take early retirement, according to an internal memo, which was seen by Bloomberg News. Bond decided the time had come to “pass on the baton to new leadership,” it said.

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