Johannesburg - Jacko Maree, the chief executive of South Africa's Standard Bank, retired on Thursday after 13 years at the helm of Africa's biggest lender.
Standard Bank said the 57-year-old Maree, one of the most respected figures in South African financial circles, would be replaced jointly by Sim Tshabalala, the head of its South African operations, and Ben Kruger, who runs its investment banking division.
“The board expresses its deep appreciation to Jacko for his substantial contribution to Standard Bank over a career of more than 32 years,” the bank said in a statement.
Under Maree, Standard Bank ramped up its overseas presence, aggressively adding branches across Africa, a strategy that has been widely lauded.
However, his decision to push into other emerging markets such as Argentina, Turkey and Russia was seen as a costly blunder and the bank has since scaled back its ambitions outside Africa.
Under his watch, Standard Bank sold a 20 percent stake to Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, a deal that highlighted China's growing role in Africa and Standard Bank's ambition to profit from trade with Asia.
“There's been an understanding in the market that he's had a long tenure and that there could very well be a change so its not much of a surprise,” said Steve Meintjes, head of research at brokerage Imara SP Reid.
“The fact that they are making internal appointments points to depth of management.”
Standard Bank also on Thursday reported an 8 percent rise in full-year profit, helped by double-digit growth in income from fees and lending.
South African banks have been targeting previously ignored lower-income earners with no-frills accounts and high-margin unsecured loans.
They are also focusing more on Africa, where the number of people without access to financial services is much higher than in their home market.
Standard Bank has operations in at least 17 African countries.
The bank said diluted headline earnings per share totalled 931.7 cents from 860.4 cents last year.
Headline earnings, the main gauge of profit in South Africa, exclude certain one-time items.
The bank said last month it expected underlying profit to rise by as much as 12 percent.
Net interest income, a measure of earnings from lending, increased by 18 percent to 34.015 billion rand ($3.74 billion) as Standard Bank wrote more loans.
The lender has increased higher risk lending across its African network, which has nudged credit impairments 37 percent higher to 8.8 billion rand.
Non-interest income, which includes revenue from arranging deals and advisory services, rose 16 percent to 34.36 billion rand, largely from increasing its number of customer accounts.
Its shares were little changed at 116.88 rand at 09:22 SA time, outperforming a slight decline in benchmark Top-40 index. - Reuters