Exclusive: Ecobank CEO's contract must be terminated immediately - PIC letter

Sat Mar 1, 2014 2:55pm EST
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By Matthew Mpoke Bigg

ACCRA (Reuters) - The main shareholder in Ecobank (ETI.LG: Quote), one of the biggest banks in sub-Saharan Africa, called on Saturday for its Ivorian chief executive Thierry Tanoh to be dismissed immediately.

The South African government-owned Public Investment Corporation's (PIC) demand was made in a letter to the interim chairman of the bank, which is headquartered in Togo and is listed in Nigeria and Ghana and on the West African regional bourse BRVM.

Four senior executives called several weeks ago for Tanoh to step down, and the letter raises the pressure on him ahead of Monday's extraordinary general meeting of the bank, although his position is not on the official agenda.

It lists a series of allegations, including that Tanoh took a unilateral decision to dismiss finance director Laurence do Rego, contrary to a decision by the board. Tanoh did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Interim chairman Andre Siaka told Reuters he would respond to the letter, which was signed by Daniel Matjila, the chief investment officer of the PIC. Matjila is one of 12 directors on Ecobank's board.

"We ... request the chairman to persuade the GCEO (Tanoh) to resign with immediate effect failing which his contract will be terminated as soon as the Board is in the position to meet and discuss the business of the Bank," said the letter, seen by Reuters.

"If we don't take this drastic step, we may not have a bank in the near future. That will be the death of a pan African dream," it said. PIC has an 18.35 percent stake in Ecobank, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Ecobank has assets of around $20 billion and operates in 33 African countries, giving it an unusually broad footprint and a significant role in financing economic expansion on a fast-growing continent.   Continued...

French Finance Minister Francois Baroin (L) shakes hands with socialist party member Laurent Fabius (R) as Ivory Coast's Thierry Tanoh (C), IFC's (International Finance Corporation) Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Western Europe, looks on at the French employers' body MEDEF union summer forum on the campus of the HEC School of Management in Jouy-en-Josas, near Paris, August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau