Sim Tshabalala, a 49-year old company veteran who describes himself as “a Zulu boy from Soweto”, joins only a handful of black executives at the helm of one of the country’s top-40 blue-chip companies.

He has become the first black person to lead Africa’s largest bank by assets without sharing power, after his co-CEO stood down, South Africa’s Standard Bank said on Tuesday.

“The board is satisfied that the structure, which was necessary in 2013, has met and in many respects exceeded expectations,” Standard Bank Chairman Thulani Gcabashe said in a statement.

“Good momentum has been achieved in the implementation of the group’s refreshed strategy.”

In their joint 4 1/2-year tenure, Standard Bank has added branches across Africa while selling assets in Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Argentina under a revamped strategy that scaled back its ambitions outside the continent.

Black executives’ lobby group, Black Management Forum (BMF), welcomed Tshabalala’s appointment, saying it showed Standard Bank had respect for black talent.

“The BMF trusts that this announcement will mark an end to the joint CEO appointments phenomena that we have come to see,” the group said.