Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Astute banker Reinette van der Merwe returns

Hardly less than two years after she left the banking halls of one of the local but multi-national banker, South African banker – Reinette van der Merwe – is set to return to Botswana.

She is set to be stationed at one of its direct competitors at the Central Business District in the capital Gaborone.

Sources within the banking sector are almost certain that former Absa Botswana managing director -Reinette van der Merwe will soon steer the ship at one of the country’s smallest banks – First Capital Bank Botswana. 

While the date of when this will happen is not yet clear, it has emerged that Reinette’s imminent return to Botswana will depend on two things – the successful application for her working and residence permits at the ministry of immigration and the approval of her employment contract by the banking sector regulator – Bank of Botswana.

This week, a source close to the central bank told Sunday Standard that Reinette and First Capital Bank Botswana will certainly get what they want. While the source was almost certain about the central bank’s green light to Reinette and her new employer’s request, it has not been clear how the ‘cooling off’ concept that the banking sector is a pioneer of will work out in this case. When it comes to hiring top management, the banking sector subscribes to the “Cooling Off” period which is the time during which an employee is disqualified or recused from participation in all official matters involving an entity because of a particular situation, for example, a prior employer. Reinette’s new employer – First Capital Bank Botswana is a direct competitor of her former employer – Absa Botswana where she worked until early 2019.

Reinette was formally appointed the managing director of Absa Botswana (formerly Barclays) in late 2013 taking over from Aupa Monyatsi who at the time occupied the post on acting capacity. Prior to that appointment, Reinette was the Chief Internal Audit Executive at the then Barclays Africa.

This week it emerged that First Capital Bank Botswana – a member FMB Capital Holdings made an application with the central bank seeking permission to hire Reinette as their new corporate leader. If successful, Reinette will be taking over from Jaco Viljoen who has been working as the Chief Executive of the local banker.

The change of guard at First Capital Bank also happens at a time when the Mauritius based holding company successful acquired one of its peers – Bank of India (Botswana). The opportunity to acquire BOIB is said to have come as a result of the decision by Bank of India to divest from certain markets outside of India, including Botswana.

Meanwhile the approval of the hiring of Reinette by Bank of Botswana could be signaling a shift in an unwritten policy by the central bank which has been giving preference of locals for top banking posts. The Government of Botswana, through the banking sector regulator – BoB has been consistent in its message on prioritization in hiring of locals in top post for local banks, largely foreign owned. Currently the country’s three leading bankers – First National Bank Botswana, Standard Chartered Botswana and Absa Botswana are all led by locals.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.