African Bank reels in new CEO once shunned by Absa’s Maria Ramos
JOHANNESBURG - AFRICAN Bank yesterday announced the appointment of seasoned banker Kennedy Bhungane to steer the ship after the abrupt departure of former chief executive Basani Maluleke over the direction of the institution.
Bungane takes over at a difficult time as the lender posted a net loss after tax of R27 million for the year to end September compared to a profit of R1.20 billion reported a year earlier.
Bungane left Absa, one of the country’s top banks, in an apparent fallout with then-chief executive Maria Ramos in 2014.
A former Absa executive who refused to be named said that Bungane left after it became clear that there was a purging of some in the leadership who did not agree with Ramos. At least four executives left Absa at the time.
“Bungane was believed to be the next in line after Ramos,” said the former executive. “However, he was also an independent thinker who took no prisoners.”
Among the casualties of the apparent purge was another rising star in Absa who was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011.
The alleged purge was eventually discussed with the ANC top echelon and resulted in Ramos not being invited to the party’s business forum, which hosted literally every influential executive with sympathies to it.
Business Report can today reveal that current Absa board chairperson, Wendy-Lucas Bull, is already said to have had a fallout with current chief executive and former SA Reserve Bank deputy governor Daniel Mminele.
African Bank appointed its chief financial officer, Gustav Raubenheimer, 3as an acting chief executive after Maluleke’s resignation while it searched for a permanent replacement.
The bank achieved a return on equity (RoE) of -0.3 percent compared to 11.6 percent a year earlier.
The bank, like most lenders, had to contend with Covid-19 and deteriorating macroeconomic conditions in South Africa, which has hit its balance sheet.
African Bank chairperson Thabo Dloti said Bungane had a keen sense for managing complex stakeholder issues.
“He has a proven track record in identifying and nurturing leadership, which promotes strong teams to deliver successful results, Dloti said.
“His passion for the role that banking can play in transforming society resonated strongly with the board.”
African Bank said Bungane brought diverse investment and strategic experience as the founder and non-executive chairperson of Nokeng Telecoms as well as the founder and chairperson of Idwala Capital. Most recently he was chief executive of Phembani Group.
An industry analyst who opted to remain anonymous said Bungane had the right credentials to lead the bank going forward.
“African Bank offers an opportunity to join a dynamic and enthusiastic team of colleagues in building the bank into a fully-fledged platform of personalised financial services and solutions to our customers.
“I believe I can play a meaningful role in the ongoing growth and transformation of the bank and continue to position it as a significant competitor within the South African financial services landscape,” Bungane said.