This is my first AGM, since I only joined Absa on 1 April this year.
There have been changes to the Board since the last AGM. Ivan Ritossa and Antony Jenkins have stepped down from the Absa Board. Ivan because he left the Barclays Group at the end of the year, Antony because he took up the reigns as Chief Executive of the Barclays Group.
On behalf of the Board I thank both of them for their contributions. On 1 March the Board appointed two new members from Barclays, namely Ashok Vaswani and Patrick Clackson. Ashok is the Chief Executive of Retail and Business Banking for Barclays; Patrick is the Chief Executive of Corporate and Investment Banking for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region.
I also wish to thank my predecessor, Garth Griffin for his leadership of the Board over the last two years, his extensive contribution to the Group over a period of 12 years.
The changes to our boards are to enable the creation of the appropriate governance structure to support the coming together of the Barclays and Absa businesses in Africa. Following the implementation of these changes we will have three strong boards (being Absa Group – to be renamed Barclays Africa Group Limited, Absa Bank, and Absa Financial Services) with an appropriate mix of executive, non-executive, and independent members.
There are 5 directors who are retiring from the Absa Group Board at the end of this AGM. They are Shauket Fakie, Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe, Louis von Zeuner, Eduardo Mondlane and Johan Willemse. Louis currently serves on both the Bank board and the Absa Financial Services board and will remain on these boards; Thoko and Shauket will remain on the Bank Board; and Eduardo and Johan will join the Absa Financial Services Board.
Following this AGM our Group Board will consist of 12 members. During the course of the coming months, two additional Board appointments will be made, to represent the Pan-African interests of the Group going forward. At that point the Group Board will consist of 14 members, down from the current 17.
This is an exciting time to be chairing a financial services group which has the scope, through its One Africa strategy, to become the ‘Go-To’ Bank in Africa. Notwithstanding that, there is lots of work to do and we have an executive team that has many new members, is highly energised, and is well-equipped for the task at hand.
We are uniquely positioned with the combination of Absa and Barclays Africa to have both an Africa footprint (with well-established banks on the continent) and a strong global shareholder.
With regard to our proposed Barclays Africa transaction itself, I am pleased to report that there has been significant progress since the Special General Meeting on 25 February 2013 at which shareholders voted in favour of the component parts of the transaction. The progress includes the publicly announced approval by the SA Minister of Finance and the South African Reserve Bank, and well-advanced regulatory processes in all other jurisdictions.
We are encouraged by the progress achieved to date and wish to thank Maria Ramos in particular for leading the Group through a complex and multi-stakeholder engagement process.
There were 15 resolutions before shareholders at today’s AGM meeting, all of which were passed.