Ecobank locked in boardroom battle over outstanding debts

Ecobank locked in boardroom battle over outstanding debts
Published: 17 July 2013
The bank that blazed a trail across African borders to build the continent's most geographically diverse network is in the throes of a bitter boardroom battle over outstanding debts owed by businesses associated with its chairman, Kolapo Lawson.

Ecobank Transnational (ETI), which was set up by mostly private west African shareholders in 1985 with a mission to develop and integrate African economies, has ridden the boom in continental banking over the past decade to gain a presence in 33 African countries with assets worth $20bn.

But the bank's leadership faces a crisis of confidence among some shareholders. At least one leading shareholder, South Africa's Public Investment Corporation, is seeking an urgent board meeting to address the controversy embroiling the bank and Thierry Tanoh, its new chief executive. Two other major shareholders have also raised concerns, although the board has given Tanoh, who was recruited last year from the World Bank's private sector lending arm full support, the chairman insists.

Documents show that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) notified Ecobank in April of  Lawson's alleged failure to "make good his promise to pay" what it called "huge outstanding non-performing facilities" owed to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, Amcon. However Lawson told the FT he had now supplied the CBN with additional information and the allegations had been laid to rest. Amcon could not be reached for comment.

Tanoh denied the PIC's suggestion that he had failed to keep the board fully informed, and said he understood Lawson had reached an arrangement with Amcon which is awaiting approval. People familiar with the matter at Ecobank said the debt to Amcon was worth N1.2bn (US$7.5m).
- FT
Tags: Ecobank, Debts,

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