SIKI MGABADELI: The scrutiny continues on African Bank Investments. We are speaking now to the curator, Tom Winterboer. Tom is with PricewaterhouseCoopers. He was appointed by the Reserve Bank in the announcement made on Sunday.
Tom, thanks so much for your time this evening. Can you explain to our listeners exactly what your role means?
TOM WINTERBOER: Hi Siki. Yes, curatorship means that firstly it’s a protective measure for a bank in terms of the Banks Act. So it’s meant to protect the creditors and depositors – and in particular the retail depositors in this case. We’ve got to protect the employees and then also look after the banking system in terms of soundness as other banks play a role.
So those would be the sort of three main objectives. But the other side of it in this case is where we have a proposed deal on the table, underwritten by a consortium of banks. So hopefully one can pull this through.
SIKI MGABADELI: Well, a big part of what you have to do is of course to keep the doors of the “good bank”, in the way it’s sort of been split up, keep those doors open, restore faith so that the public continues to come through the doors and take out loans. Do you anticipate that that’s going to be hard?
TOM WINTERBOER: Absolutely. I think it’s important to keep the doors open and, as we said, doors open for business.
The important part also is just the fact that our customers just should be reminded that they must pay – that’s quite important. They’ve got obligations with the bank. And once enough people don’t pay clearly the information goes through to credit bureaux and the like. But we value the relationship with our clients and that must remain intact.
So I think as for the proposed “good bank” – we need to reassess in terms of the business model and how we do things. I think it has the likelihood of being a very good, viable bank.
SIKI MGABADELI: Have you started the work with your team?
TOM WINTERBOER: It’s early days. I was only appointed on Sunday and cut off this year yesterday. So I think its early days, but work has started and we’ll obviously put a plan together. But overall certainly the good bank is proposed and we believe that’s it’s a viable proposition.
SIKI MGABADELI: And it’s also early days, but do you have a sense of how long this might last for?
TOM WINTERBOER: One would probably look for the short to medium term, to get all the things in place once all the details have been sorted out – probably three months. And between three and six months to have it implemented. But certainly all the building blocks have been made available and it’s just a matter of making sure that everyone is on board.
SIKI MGABADELI: Thanks to Tom Winterboer.
David, what do you think is going to be the toughest thing for Tom?
DAVID SHAPIRO: I don’t know whether he’s got a tougher task than your previous guest! What would you rather do – rather run this bank or walk to the north pole?
SIKI MGABADELI: I would go with the polar bears.
DAVID SHAPIRO: I think it’s a very tough job. And not only that, he’s got to keep it as a good bank and not let things get out of control. And of course he’s got his underwriters at the moment whom he has to look after as well. But conditions aren’t that great in the economy. He’s got to prevent things worsening there.
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