Roger Jardine. File photo: Leon Nicholas
First Rand Limited has announced that Roger Jardine will be its next chairperson from April, the preferred candidate, Sizwe Nxasana, having declared himself unavailable for the job.

The position became vacant when First Rand announced Laurie Dippenaar’s departure as board chairperson and non-executive director with effect from March 31.

The group said Jardine would be appointed independent non-executive chairperson of the board with effect from April 1, and he would step down as chief executive of Primedia.

“The group is fortunate to have someone of Mr Jardine’s experience and calibre on its board and believes that following 13 years of service as a non-executive on various First Rand Bank and First Rand Limited boards and committees, he has the necessary business insight and leadership skills to chair the board going forward,” the group said.

Dippenaar is one of FirstRand’s founding members. The others are Paul Harris and Gerrit Thomas Ferreira.

In paying tribute to Dippenaar, the group said the board would like to thank him for his long and distinguished service.

“Under Mr Dippenaar’s chairmanship, FirstRand has navigated many challenges with resilience and has consistently produced strong growth in shareholder value.”

Dippenaar served as group chief executive from the creation of FirstRand in 1998 until he stepped down in 2005. He was appointed as non-executive chairperson in 2008.

Industry analysts said Dippenaar would leave a lasting legacy at FirstRand.

Brad Preston, a director: listed investments at Mergence Investment Managers, said Dippenaar had left a very strong legacy, given the excellent performance of the business during his tenure as chairperson and also in his role in founding the business.

BayHill Capital equities trader Jordan Weir also weighed in. Dippenaar left behind an unshakable foundation for FirstRand, built over 19 years, to use “as a reliable platform to traject itself to new heights within the global banking race”, Weir said.

Worthy successor

Both analysts said that the group had found a worthy successor in Jardine.

“Jardine has been a non-executive board member of FirstRand for a long period and should be a capable successor, and I would not expect any change in strategy due to this,” Preston said.

He added it was a loss for FirstRand that Nxasana would not be taking up the role of chairperson, but a gain for South African society that a businessman of his experience and calibre was committing his focus on civil society.

The group said Nxasana’s various civil society and investment activities had, however, placed extensive demands on his time, and he had confirmed to First Rand that he could not commit to the role of non-executive chairperson.

Weir said it would be business as usual at First Rand.

“While Jardine takes on more of a responsibility in driving FirstRand’s longer-term strategy focus on expanding its business offshore, I think it is safe to say that it will be business as usual at FirstRand.

“I imagine that, if any changes are seen within First Rand group after Jardine’s appointment, they would naturally fall in line with First Rand’s growth strategy,” he said.