LOCAL lender Absa has finally achieved a 50% black component on its executive board after two decades of jostling and jeering by those advocating for transformation and employment equity in the workplace.
On Monday, Absa, now known as Barclays Africa Group, said Yasmin Masithela would become its chief executive of strategic services and that Peter Matlare would remain chief executive for “the rest of the Africa” division. This led to the group executive committee being 50% white and 50% black. The Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (Absip) congratulated Absa on its new business and leadership structure.
It expressed the hope that the executive appointments would “accelerate and deepen transformation in the financial services sector”. “Following these executive appointments the group will now be 50% blackled and more than 40% women-led,” Absip’s president Sibongiseni Mbatha said. “This is a step in the right direction, despite the fact that the bank reached this point only after two decades of democracy.
“It has taken the bank 24 years to get to 50-50 at the top. One can only imagine how long it will take to change every business division of the bank in terms of transformation,” Mbatha said. He said while the group was in the process of again branding as Absa after its marriage with Barclays came to an end, this was an opportunity for the long-time dream of a black-owned bank to be realised.
This was also an opportunity for Absa but the big question remained, who would fund it, because the financial sector would delay funding to black groupings if they were geared to buy an entity as big as Absa. “We are ready to have a discussion on a black-owned bank,” he said. PIC, with a holding of about 7%, could buy at least an additional 31% stake According to Absip, the Public Investment Corporation could join other funders and investors to make the dream of a majority black-owned bank come true.
PIC has expressed an interest in increase its stake to 31%. “We will do what we can within our powers to be closer as a majority shareholders for Absa. Absip will mobilise,” Mbatha said. Recently, the ruling party called for transformation in the financial sector to step up and called for the creation of a state-owned bank.
Former ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, now the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, earlier said that there was a gap in the banking sector – with no dedicated institution to help empower black entrepreneurs. At the time, Mkhize punted that the support of black entrepreneurs was essential and that a special bank to cater for their needs was urgently needed.