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Michael Jordaan confirms resignation

‘There are 193 countries in the world and I haven’t seen all of them.’

PRETORIA – FNB’s Michael Jordaan will step down as the bank’s CEO at the end of the year, bringing an end to his illustrious career at the bank spanning a decade. He will be replaced by Jacques Celliers, currently CEO of Business Banking and FNB’s (JSE:FSR) expansion into India.

At a press conference held in Sandton Jordaan told the media that he is not “retiring”, but rather “stepping down.” He said that he wants to spend the time reintegrating with his family and travelling.

“There are 193 countries in the world and I haven’t seen all of them. I want to visit places where there are great ideas around technology and innovation – Tel Aviv, Silicon Valley, Turkey,” he said. Jordaan added that the world was rapidly changing and that he would like to get involved in the entrepreneurial space, but still didn’t know how exactly – whether through angel investing or mentoring or in a different format. He did emphasise that it would not be in the financial sphere as FNB and FirstRand was his “spiritual home” and that he could not “attack the home” that he had been part of building.

FNB issued a statement on Wednesday confirming Jordaan’s decision to leave the group, stating that he already indicated his intention to step down as CEO to the FirstRand board in 2010.

Moneyweb reported his intention to leave the group in January this year. It was at the time of the interaction between the ANC and the bank about the group’s controversial ad campaign, but not related to the campaign itself.

Jordaan and the bank then denied that he has resigned.

Jordaan will stay involved with the FirstRand Group in a non-executive capacity on various boards and committees.

FirstRand’s share price closed 1.71% down at R31.11 on Wednesday. This while Absa Group (JSE: ASA) was 0.33% stronger at R150.00, Standard Bank (JSE: SBK) 1.07% stronger at R113.45 and Nedbank down 0.82% on R179.51.

Responding to a question on whether the reaction in the share price could be an indication that the market is dissatisfied with the appointment, FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana said that the group embraces transformation and that there were employment equity candidates as part of the interview process. He said that Celliers was the most suitably qualified person for the job.

“As to the reaction of the market, people will soon know who Jacques is. This is a long-term game,” Nxasana said.

Jordaan has been commuting for five years to and from his family home in the Western Cape.

Jordaan tweeted:

Jordaan commented that whilst he was sad to be leaving, the bank was in great shape. “Recently voted the most innovative bank in the world and with a clear leadership position in digital banking and innovative banking channels, FNB will continue with its successful strategy of generating new technologies and cost-effective products for our customers,” he said.

FNB is often equated with innovation, something that Jordaan fostered in the different units in the bank. Celliers told the media that the bank takes innovation “very seriously.”

“No one tells us to innovate. It isn’t something that is on your scorecard, we just live it,” he said.

Celliers (41) is a member of the FNB Executive Committee and also head of FNB’s Indian expansion.

Jordaan responded to a question on why he earlier denied that he was leaving the bank, stating that there was a process to follow – selecting the candidates, identifying the successor, getting regulatory approval and that the queries did not come at an opportune time. He said he is relieved that he can now admit what his future plans are.

Celliers said he is both humbled and excited to be offered this opportunity. “Over the next six months I will work closely with Michael and the rest of the FNB executive team to ensure we maintain and build on the momentum that has been created,” he said. Jordaan said they will make it the “smoothest handing over of a baton ever”.

Read the full FirstRand SENS.

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