Absa Group Cuts Ties With Sipho Pityana

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The Absa Group on Wednesday announced that it had removed Sipho Pityana from its boards

“The Absa Group and Absa bank boards have resolved, in terms of section 71(3)(b) of the South African Companies Act, to remove Mr. Sipho Pityana as a director of the Boards, with immediate effect,” said a terse statement from the financial services group.

The announcement comes just two weeks after the Absa Group removed Pityana from his position as a lead independent director and chairperson of the remuneration committee.

“The decision followed a 23 November 2021 meeting during which Mr. Pityana was provided an opportunity to address the Boards’ allegations that he had neglected or had been derelict in the performance of his functions as a director of the Boards and had failed to conduct himself in the interests of Absa,” said the statement.

“After careful consideration of the matter and Mr. Pityana’s responses to the allegations, the Boards arrived at the view that, amongst others, Mr. Pityana pursued his own personal interests to the detriment of Absa and thereby created a material and sustained conflict between his interests and those of Absa.

The Absa Group said it has a duty to its stakeholders to put the group’s interest before individual interests.

Last month Pityana publicly accused former Absa CEO Maria Ramos of using a false sexual harassment charge against him at Ashanti Gold to influence the bank not to make him chair of the Absa group.

Ramos succeeded Pityana as the chair of AngloGold Ashanti.

Pityana, who rejects the sexual harassment claims as false, also took the matter to court citing the Absa group as a respondent.

On Tuesday, the Absa Group filed its answering affidavit in the application instituted by Pityana against the Prudential Authority, in which he cited Absa as a respondent.

Absa said it opposed the application because the advice Absa has received is that the relief sought by Pityana implicates the financial services group in participating in what he alleges was an unlawful informal process by the Prudential Authority.

Absa said it has been advised that it is likely that the court case will be heard next year.

“While the Boards respect Mr. Pityana’s individual right to administrative fairness, unfortunately in this matter, the Boards concluded that the pursuit of his personal interest at the cost of the group’s interest created a sustained and irresoluble conflict,” said the Absa Group on Wednesday.

Pityana says he will challenge his removal from the Absa Group boards.