PIC backs plan for interim board at Ecobank

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Bloomberg

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) supported the creation of an interim board of directors at Ecobank Transnational that included chief executive Thierry Tanoh, a person close to the matter said.

The current board was seen as divisive and unable to make decisions, the person said, asking not to be identified before Ecobank’s shareholder meeting votes on a new board on March 3 in Lomé, Togo.

Nozamo Petje, a spokeswoman for the PIC, which owns about 20 percent of Ecobank, declined to comment.

The new board would implement recommendations by Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission, which probed allegations of senior management fraud.

Four Ecobank executives, led by deputy group chief executive Albert Essien, wrote to chairman Andre Siaka on February 11 asking that Tanoh step down.

The proposed interim board also includes Siaka, representatives of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, the International Finance Corporation and the PIC, according to a meeting notice on Ecobank’s website. It does not include Essien.

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria is Ecobank’s second-biggest shareholder with 8.6 percent.

Mwambu Wanendeya, a spokesman for Ecobank, declined to comment.

Nigeria’s regulator investigated Ecobank after Laurence do Rego, the lender’s former group executive director of risk and finance, told the regulator in August that Tanoh and former chairman Kolapo Lawson planned to sell assets below market value. Do Rego said she was pressured to write off debts owed by a business headed by Lawson and manipulate the bank’s results. Both Tanoh and Lawson deny any wrongdoing.

Lawson, who retired at the end of last year, said he was stepping down to end uncertainty and “media speculation” over Ecobank.


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