Retirement for celebrated Remgro CFO Leon Crouse, founding CFO of Vodacom

One of South Africa's most impressive CFOs, Remgro's finance boss Leon Crouse, is retiring today, on 31 March 2016. As founder member of the management team of Vodacom he was instrumental in the launch of the mobile communications giant, where he was in charge of the purse until he joined the Stellenbosch-based investment holding company Remgro in 2008.

CFO South Africa contacted Crouse (63) this morning to congratulate him on his remarkable career and to ask him about his thoughts on his retirement. This was his response:

"I feel very blessed to have had a very rewarding and fun-filled career of 42 years where I met and worked with many fantastic people that made a difference to my and my family's lives. I have been very fortunate to be part of two very successful startups, namely Compagnie Financière Richemont and Vodacom, and in addition to finish my career at Remgro. I was able to do these jobs successfully because I surrounded myself with positive people who shared my values. I look forward to a new chapter of my life where I will have more time and freedom to do things spontaneously without the daily responsibilities of an executive position."

Crouse started his career in earnest in 1986 with one of Remgro's previous incarnations, the Rembrandt group, the business empire founded by Dr Anton Rupert. He likes to tell the story of how he was presented with some air tickets by the company and told that he was being transferred to Switzerland to hold the position of financial controller of Compagnie Financière Richemont AG in the small town of Zug. Crouse was an instrumental part of the team that unbundled the luxury goods business from the Rembrandt group to form the separately listed Richemont.

Crouse's most visible success in South Africa came when he joined the Vodacom Group in 1993 as its fifth employee. The mobile telecoms giant was co-founded by Rembrandt, which 'deployed' Crouse as one its wisest finance heads. During the spectacular growth of the firm between 1994 and 2008, Crouse was its CFO working side-by-side CEO Allan Knott-Craig. According to Knott-Craig, Crouse was "an integral part of [Vodacom's] success", praising him at the time of his departure as "a world-class CFO, [...] a confidante and a friend".

After Crouse became Remgro CFO, he oversaw the remerger of Remgro and VenFin in 2009. One of the last spectacular projects Crouse was involved in was funding the reverse takeover of Al Noor by Mediclinic, of which Remgro owns 41% of the shares. In the previous years, Crouse has also been a non-executive board member at FirstRand, MMI Holdings and Rand Merchant Insurance Holdings. He will be succeeded as CFO by Neville Williams, Remgro's current head of corporate finance.

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