Liberty CEO Thabo Dloti quits

Cape Town - Liberty CEO Thabo Dloti has resigned with immediate effect following a difference of opinion with the board on the company's immediate focus, the financial services company announced on Tuesday.

The company said in a note to shareholders the difference of opinion comes at a time when the organisation is facing tough operational and environmental challenges.

Standard Bank [JSE:SBK], which owns 55% of Liberty [JSE:LBH], said in separate statement that given Liberty’s importance as an institution to the Standard Bank Group, the ongoing priority is to enable the company to achieve its growth by focusing on a short-term recovery plan and a longer-term strategy to reinforce its competitiveness.

"Liberty remains a fundamentally sound business and Standard Bank is confident of Liberty’s long-term profitability, competitiveness and sustainability,” said Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala.

Liberty said David Munro, the current chief executive of Standard Bank Group’s Corporate & Investment Banking (CIB) division and a current non-executive director of Liberty Holdings, will assume the role of Liberty CEO with immediate effect.

"Thabo believes that given this environment, alignment among key stakeholders is imperative to ensure the effective execution of the strategy required to drive the company forward. This alignment coupled with the ability to act decisively is in the best interests of the company and hence Thabo is stepping aside," Liberty's statement read.

Standard Bank Group said that Kenny Fihla, the current deputy chief executive and head of client coverage at its CIB division, will replace Munro with immediate effect.

The banking and investment group said Fihla has been a key player in driving CIB’s growth and in managing key corporate clients across the continent and major financial centres around the globe.

"He has demonstrated his ability to consistently drive performance in his various leadership roles with CIB and his experience equips him well as he takes on his new position."

Tshabalala said the appointments demonstrate Standard Bank’s deep pool of expertise and the group's ability to integrate and optimise the deployment of its key talent.

Fihla was previously the chief executive of Business Against Crime from 2003 to 2006 and prior to that held various leadership positions within the public sector.

"Liberty remains a fundamentally sound business and Standard Bank is confident of Liberty’s long-term profitability, competitiveness and sustainability,” said Tshabalala.

Liberty shares were trading 2.09% up at R113.17 on the JSE at 09:23, Standard Bank shares were 0.48% down at R151.37.

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