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Absa could be without a permanent CEO for up to 10 months after Maria Ramos steps down at the end of February, according to group chairman Wendy Lucas-Bull. While Ramos’s retirement has been expected for some time, analysts say her swift exit suggests that the board was caught unaware and that it did not have a firm succession plan in place. The lender said on Tuesday that Ramos, who will have led the company for exactly a decade when she departs, would retire in just a month’s time, when she turns 60. René van Wyk, a nonexecutive director at Absa since February 2017 and a former registrar of banks at the SA Reserve Bank, will take over in the interim.

Lucas-Bull told Business Day that Absa planned to announce Ramos’s permanent replacement when it published interim results in August, and her successor would probably take over from the beginning of 2020. “We’re essentially talking about a one-year interim period,” she said. Ramos’s decision to step down followed the conclusion ...

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