Vaka clinches top BIHL post

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Diversified financial services concern Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) has appointed Regina Sikalesele-Vaka as the new group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), grinding to a halt the rumour mill that has been running since last year regarding the appointment.

While Sikalesele-Vaka has clinched the lucrative post that has been linked with a number of high profile personalities in the financial industry including Barclays Chief Thuli Johnson , fellow colleague and former joint MD for BIHL Victor Senye seems to have lost out and has now been redeployed to head a newly formed property division. Sikalesele-Vaka and Senye who were at par in the BIHL hierarchy  as joint MDs  since 2005, while also heading Botswana Life and BIFM respectively were both said to have been competing for the post.

Announcing the appointment in Gaborone yesterday, after the presentation of the group financial results for the year ended 31 December 2009, BIHL chairperson Batsho Dambe-Groth said the continued growth and expansion of the group has necessitated the appointment of a substantive head of the group that has been growing at a fast pace. " The new group CEO will be charged with overseeing and directing the operations of the entire BIHL group as it consolidates its dominant position in Botswana and expands into the region. The company has embarked on a new strategy to become a broad and diversified financial services firm," said Dambe-Groth, who was also this week confirmed as the substantive Chairperson for BIHL.

Dambe-Groth took over from MacLean Letshwiti in 2008 and has been in an acting capacity for the past 15 months. Apart from the property development division, which will be headed by Senye and the newly acquired Letshego Guard and Letshego Guard Insurance companies, the group is also putting up infrastructure to introduce Unit Trusts to the markets.


Currently the group, which is the fourth largest company on the Botswana Stock Exchange has assets worth as much as P11 billion in Botswana and about P5 billion in Zambia where they are in the asset management, employee benefits and property business.  "Our new group is going to have five subsidiaries which include, BIFM, Botswana Life, Unit Trusts, Property Fund and the Short term insurance and all these divisions will have their respective heads whom we are going to appoint in the near future," said Dambe-Groth.

Sikalesele-Vaka(44) who has been CEO of Botswana Life since 2004 and MVA before that, has 22 years experience in the corporate world, 17 of them in the financial services sector. She is a holder of a Bachelor of law Degree from the University of Botswana in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh and has been a non-executive director of several blue chip companies including FNB Botswana, Engen Botswana, Sechaba Breweries, G4S and Sefalana. Commenting on her appointment, Sikalesele-Vaka thanked the board for showing faith in her abilities. " I feel humbled by this appointment and I would like to thank all the stakeholders for showing faith in my abilities by giving the mandate to lead this bigger group of companies into the next phase of growth and expansion. "If you have taken me this far, I will need your continued support if I am to   go as far as I want to," she said.

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