Maria Ramos to retire as Absa CEO at the end of February

The CEO says that it was never her intention to stay for this long.

Group chief executive officer of Absa Maria Ramos will be retiring at the end of February when she turns 60. She has spent 10 years as the group CEO of Absa and has led the group through significant milestones. 

Maria’s leadership brought a lot of change for Absa when she joined the group during the financial crisis in 2009 and steered it through the resulting challenges. Under her leadership, Absa acquired Barclays’ eight African subsidiaries - the largest African acquisition ever by a South African bank. 

She also led the organisation through a period of challenges, including the financial market disruption in South Africa in December 2015, and issues related to the Public Protector Report

Maria stated the following: 

"It had never been my intention to stay this long, as I have always believed that a CEO’s tenure should allow for a regular refresh. My earlier intentions to step down were curtailed by Barclays PLC’s 2016 decision to sell down their controlling stake, a unique set of circumstances that required continuity. So with my coming 60th birthday I have made the decision to leave the position open for a new chief executive to lead the group on the next leg of its exciting journey.” 

She further stated: 

“I would like to thank members of the Board and Exco, past and present, for all the support they have provided over the years. I am also grateful for the opportunity to lead an organisation with committed colleagues.” 

René van Wyk has been appointed as the interim CEO with effect from 1 March and will remain on the boards. As of 1 February, he will be classified as an executive director.

René has been a non-executive director on the boards since February 2017. Prior to joining the Absa Group, he was the registrar of banks within the South African Reserve Bank, from which he resigned in May 2016. He has 19 years of experience with Nedbank and was also the CEO of Imperial Bank.

Absa has stated that a permanent appointment to the position will be announced in due course, following the finalisation of the process of appointing a new CEO, and the requisite regulatory approvals. 

Absa Group chairman Wendy Lucas-Bull released the following statement: 

“On behalf of the Boards, I wish to thank Maria for a decade of dedicated service to our Group and wish her all the best in her future endeavours. Absa is a different business to the one Maria joined in 2009. Instead of a South African bank it is now a pan-African financial services provider with a footprint in ten countries across Africa. She will leave the group with our major priorities on track including the separation from Barclays and the implementation of our corporate strategy.”