Power struggle continues at pan-African lender Ecobank

The biggest shareholder in Ecobank Transnational has accused its chief executive of using the bank for “personal gain” and demanded his immediate resignation

Power struggle continues at pan-African lender Ecobank

World Bulletin/News Desk

The future of the crisis-hit pan-African banking giant Ecobank is under threat as shareholders contend with an escalating boardroom "power struggle" with a special meeting Monday hoped to iron things out, Africa Review review.

Chief executive officer Thierry Tanoh is allegedly refusing to heed calls by the bank's largest shareholder, South Africa`s Public Investment Corporation (PIC), to resign.

The Ivorian has been at the helm of head of the Lome-headquartered bank since last year.

According to the report, previously vice president of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, Tanoh joined Ecobank in July 2012 and formally assumed the top post in January 2013, succeeding Nigerian Arnold Ekpe.

Ecobank, known formally as Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), is one of the biggest banks in sub-Saharan Africa with presence in 33 African countries. It boasts of an assets-worth of over $20bn as of 2012, an increase from $8.3 billion in 2008.

It's other shareholders include the Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development (6 per cent), and Ghana`s Social Security and National Insurance Trust (5 per cent).

Ecobank has blazed a trail across borders by building a presence in 34 African countries. But it was pitched into crisis last July by allegations of mismanagement by Laurence do Rego, the subsequently sacked executive director in charge of risk and finance.

However, the beleaguered CEO and his supporters alleged that some powerful people who fear exposure for dubious acts are behind the ouster campaign.

Reuters wire agency Sunday cited a letter by PIC accusing the chief executive of governance breaches and of failing to raise capital.

Besides the South African Fund, reports indicate at least two other major shareholders are aggrieved by the current management set up.

The Ecobank board comprises 12 executive members. But only four are reported to have demanded Tanoh step down, including deputy chief executive Albert Essien.

Mr Tanoh is also accused of taking a unilateral decision to dismiss a top former executive, Laurence do Rego, Finance Director in charge of Risk Management & Finance, against the board`s decision.

Ecobank was set up by mostly private West African shareholders in 1985 with a mission to develop and integrate African economies.

It has grown to be the leading independent regional banking group in the West and Central Africa region.

With a total of 600,000 shareholders, its shares are traded on three West African stock exchanges - Nigeria, Ghana and the Francophone West African regional exchange BRVM which also owns a 4 per cent share in it.

In 2013, PIC announced a $250 million shares purchase which gave it its 18 per cent stake.

Despite priding itself as a giant pan-African bank, Ecobank has been unable to play a lead role even in West Africa where it has its roots.

The quality of its customer services is for instance among the most criticized.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Mart 2014, 15:59