10/02/2012 Group CEO of Absa Maria Ramos during their financial results at Sandton JHB. (793) Photo: Leon Nicholas

Londiwe Buthelezi

Less than three weeks after Absa shareholders put the banking group’s management in a corner, calling on it to account for the unexpected decline in profit for the six months to June, an unconfirmed number of senior managers are believed to have been fired by the bank.

Yesterday Business Report learnt that Saks Ntombela, the head of Absa Retail Bank and Gustav Raubenheimer, the bank’s chief credit officer, were among those that left the group.

It is believed that some managers walked out while others were dismissed.

Yesterday Absa denied there had been resignations at executive level but confirmed that some of their senior managers would be leaving.

“In one of our business units, in the normal course of business, two senior managers have been offered positions outside of the group and will shortly leave our employ… Naturally we will have disappointments from time to time, just as any other organisation,” the company said in an e-mailed response.

Absa said it could not specify the names of the two individuals referred to in the statement without their consent.

The departures could be seen as a move by Absa chief executive Maria Ramos to clean house, since she finds herself in a corner having to answer for the recent poor performance of the bank.

The departures come after weeks of reputational tainting and consequent negative market reaction which sent the Absa share price to its lowest level in years. Absa has had to deal with the downgrade of its credit ratings, followed by the rate-fixing scandal of its controlling shareholder Barclays, and later an 8.6 percent decline in its profits.

Dimitri Mitropapas, an analyst and stockbroker at PSG Konsult, said having been under pressure for some time Absa might have seen an opportunity to clean up.

“They are facing similar challenges as First National Bank a couple of years ago and they just have to do what they have to do,” he said.

Mitropapas said after the clean up, Absa would pick up and would find other people in no time. He said bringing new people in and refocusing the group would position Absa well and enable it to take market share from the smaller banks.

Absa shares closed 2.2 percent higher at R143.06.