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

Published March 01, 2014

| Reuters

Ecobank chief executive Thierry Tanoh's contract must be terminated immediately, the bank's top shareholder Public Investment Corporation (PIC) said in a letter to the bank's interim chairman seen by Reuters on Saturday.

The letter lists a series of grievances against Tanoh, including that he 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 had received the letter, which was signed by Daniel Matjila, the chief investment officer of the South African PIC, and would respond. 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 obtained 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," said the letter.

The PIC has a 18.35 percent stake in Ecobank, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The letter comes ahead of Monday's extraordinary general meeting of the bank, which is one of the biggest financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. That meeting at the bank's headquarters in the Togolese capital Lome will vote on governance reforms.

The letter will raise pressure on Tanoh, a former vice president of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation who took over as CEO in January 2013. Four executives at Ecobank called in an email to Siaka on February 13 for Tanoh to step down, citing a long-running crisis of leadership.

(Reporting by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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