Bank CEOs Lobbied Zuma on Finance Minister After Market Turmoil

  • Goldman, Barclays unit, Standard Bank met South African state
  • Bank shares rebound after losing $10 billion in value

The heads of South Africa’s biggest banks held talks with the government in the days after President Jacob Zuma’s shock decision to remove Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, according to a statement from nine chief executive officers.

Colin Coleman, head of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in South Africa, Maria Ramos, the CEO of Barclays Africa Group Ltd. and Sim Tshabalala and Ben Kruger, joint CEOs Standard Bank Group Ltd., were among those who signed the statement.

The Johannesburg market’s banking index gained 9 percent by 3:57 p.m. after Zuma late Sunday replaced Nene’s successor, David van Rooyen, with Pravin Gordhan, who has already served a term as finance minister. Monday’s advance recouped some of the 19 percent plunge in the index and about 155 billion rand ($10 billion) in share value lost over two days last week after Nene was fired. The index is still experiencing its biggest December decline this century, down 14 percent this month.

“We appreciate that the presidency asked for and listened to the input of a wide range of South Africans, including ourselves,” the bank chiefs said. “Given the extraordinary volatility experienced in the rand, bonds and equity markets during Thursday and Friday of last week, it was vital that the South African government send as strong a signal as possible to both citizens and investors.”

‘Many Representations’

South African business leaders pressured senior members of the ruling African National Congress into demanding that Zuma review his decision to appoint Van Rooyen on Dec. 9, three people familiar with the situation said earlier. The heads of private sector companies met with ANC officials including Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, two of the people said. Party spokesman Zizi Kodwa declined to comment when contacted by phone.

Zuma said Sunday he was appointing Gordhan, who held the role between 2009 and 2014, after he received “many representations to reconsider my decision.”

“Minister Gordhan brings a wealth of experience and is well known to, and trusted by, the international investment community,” said the bank CEOs, who also included Johan Burger from FirstRand Ltd., Mike Brown of Nedbank and Investec Plc’s Stephen Koseff.

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