Colm Patterson, the current Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Letshego Holdings, Botswana’s top micro-lender is likely to take over as the group Managing Director (MD) when Jan Claassen leaves in 2014.Patterson declined to comment this week when approached. “I am not going to talk about that to the media, the Board of Directors is in the recruitment process and they will announce that in due course,” he said.
Letshego’s corporate strategy and communications head, Lydia Andries denied that Patterson is taking over, replacing Claassen, the out going group MD aged just over 60 years.“The Board of Directors employed a recruitment agency who will submit names of possible candidates.
Currently the Board of Directors has not received a list of these and neither has any candidates been identified. There is a due process that Letshego Board of Directors will follow to identify Claassen’s successor,” Andries said.Patterson, who is a qualified chartered accountant, has been with the Botswana Stock Exchange quoted company for six years now.
Letshego has announced that Claassen, who has been at the helm of the Pan-African micro-lender, will be handing over his position since his contract with Letshego expires on the 31st July 2014. He has advised the Board of Directors that he will not be renewing his contract. “Even though Claassen will be leaving at the end of his contract, he has indicated his willingness to make himself available, in a different role, to the Board of Directors and management across the Group post 31st July 2014,” said Andries.
She further said the board decided to start the process of recruiting Mr Claassen’s successor early to ensure that there will be sufficient time for the new Managing Director to work alongside Mr Claassen to enable a smooth transition of the Group leadership.
Andries said it was envisaged that this would give his successor the necessary time to get to know the business, investors, the culture, senior management and staff. This Tuesday, Claassen, who has been Letshego MD for over seven years now, told BG Business that, despite the fact that he has reached a retiring age, he was also abiding by corporate governance expectations.
“As a company with subsidiaries in countries like Namibia, Unagnda and others, corporate rules requires that no CEO or MD should hold such positions for more than seven years because it ends up leading to malpractice and corruption,” he said. When Claassen joined Letshego, the Group had only one company, which is Letshego Financial Services Botswana.
Claassen has pioneered Letshego Group pan African expansion from one company in 2003 when he joined to 11 countries now. Under his leadership Letshego has been a dominant player in the micro lending and financial services industry with market capitalisation growing from P100 million to over P4 billion. He also chartered out a discerned strategic roadmap to transform Letshego into a Pan-African financial services powerhouse.
In his nine years at the helm of Letshego, he assisted the Group to rebalance investments across the pan African markets to secure the Group’s future at the same time entrenching the Letshego brand in these markets thereby ensuring that the investors are with Letshego for the journey