Standard Bank joint CEO Ben Kruger. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA/FINANCIAL MAIL
Standard Bank joint CEO Ben Kruger. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA/FINANCIAL MAIL

Ben Kruger will step down as joint CE of Standard Bank with immediate effect, the banking group said on Tuesday.

This leaves Sim Tshabalala as the only head of Africa’s biggest bank by assets.

Kruger and Tshabalala took up their joint roles in 2013, following the retirement of Jacko Maree, who led the financial services group for more than 13 years.

The company said in a statement it was satisfied that the structure, which has been in place since 2013, "has met and in many respects exceeded expectations".

Kruger will remain an executive director, reporting to the CE.

The market met the joint CE structure with scepticism when it was first announced. Questions were raised over how the dual leadership structure would practically work and whether there would be a tussle for control between Tshabalala and Kruger.

It seems, however, to have worked for the bank, which reported an 11% rise in half-year profit for the six months to June.

This has not been without challenge, with the bank having to endure losses on metals financing fraud in China and a R300m loss from credit-card fraud in Japan. Since 2013, Standard Bank has also dialled down its global expansion plans, electing instead to focus on Africa, which appears to have paid off.

"The resounding success of the joint-group CE structure is testament to the group’s culture and values, which include working in teams, respecting each other and upholding the highest levels of integrity. Good momentum has been achieved in the implementation of the group’s refreshed strategy," said group chairman Thulani Gcabashe.

"The board expresses appreciation to both Ben and Sim, who have successfully led the process of refreshing the group’s strategy and managed complex challenges which faced the group in several jurisdictions, while delivering respectable returns to our shareholders."

Kruger’s new role will include a mixed bag of responsibilities, including contributing to management of Africa regions; guiding the continued digitisation of the group; broadening the group’s relationship with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China; helping with the management of the group’s risks; and maintaining key client relationships.

Standard Bank shares were up 0.48% at R163.67 in early trade, giving the group a market value of R264.8bn.

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