Former Ecobank directors defend under-pressure CEO Tanoh

Sun Mar 2, 2014 12:02pm EST
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By Matthew Mpoke Bigg

ACCRA (Reuters) - Two former directors of Ecobank defended CEO Thierry Tanoh and said he is under pressure to resign because he is dealing with governance problems that allegedly took place before his tenure began at one of the biggest banks in sub-Saharan Africa.

Their views are likely to be advanced to shareholders by the company on Monday at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) at its headquarters in the Togolese capital Lome to vote on governance reforms.

Several current and former senior bank officials rejected the claim as false and said it was an effort to divert attention from governance problems which, they asserted, started once Tanoh became chief executive in January 2013.

Ecobank (ETI.LG: Quote) is divided over the leadership of Tanoh, an Ivorian who was vice president of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation.

The bank's main shareholder Public Investment Corporation of South Africa said in a letter on Saturday Tanoh should be dismissed immediately, accusing him of governance breaches and of failing to raise capital.

On February 13, the executives on Tanoh's top management team called for him to step down to resolve a leadership crisis.

Former directors Babatunde Ajibade and Kolapo Lawson, who served on a board that now has 12 members, said criticism of Tanoh is rooted in fear by other senior executives that his willingness to reform governance may expose past problems.

In interviews, both men declined to spell out those alleged failures in detail. But Lawson said in a resignation letter dated February 7 and seen by Reuters that they stemmed from "the ETI public offering of 2008", which refers to the bank's flotation on the Nigerian stock exchange.   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