Sizwe  Nxasana
South Africa

Sizwe Nxasana

Chief Executive Officer, FirstRand Limited

Date of Birth: 07/08/1957

Education: BA, Commerce, University of Fort Hare; Bachelor of Accounting Science, University of South Africa, 1983.

Career: Audit Supervisor, PricewaterhouseCoopers Int. Ltd.,1984-86; Business Advisor, Small Business Development Corporation, 1985-86; Finance Accountant, SA Sugar Distributions Ltd.,1986-89; National President, Absa Group Ltd., 1994-98; Managing Partner, Nkonki Sizwe Ntsaluba; CEO of Telkom, 1998-2006; Exectuive Director, of FirstRand Ltd., 2006 to date; CEO FirstRand Ltd., 2006 to date.

Commentary: In 2009, Nxasana led negotiations for an alliance with China Construction Bank (CCB). The two banks have signed a deal which commits FirstRand (the second biggest bank in South Africa) to offer financial and advisory services to Chinese investors in Africa and CCB (the second biggest in China) to do the same for African companies in China.

When Nxasana succeeded founder Paul Harris as CEO of FirstRand Ltd., the parent company of FirstRand Bank, he became the first black CEO among the four major South African banking groups. Nxasana has been on FirstRand's board since 2003. An unapologetic capitalist, he is not as involved in the ruling African National Congress as many other financially-minded people.

Nxasana favours FirstRand's African expansion and the courtship of Asia. Nigeria is a target, as is Kenya. But the bank will close operations in recession-hit Europe. The CCB-FirstRand agreement is more modest than the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's purchase of a 20% stake in Standard Bank in 2007. But the alliance will serve Nxasana's ambitions to develop business around Chinese investment. The Indian market will not be neglected: in 2009, FirstRand became the first African bank to open a branch in India.