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Ecobank replaces Kenyan unit CEO with Ghanaian executive

Ecobank Kenya managing director Ehouman Kassi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
Ecobank Kenya managing director Ehouman Kassi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

Ecobank Kenya has replaced its managing director amid staff disquiet over an alleged high number of expatriates in the local unit.

Ehouman Kassi will be replaced as managing director by Ghanian Samuel Adjei beginning April 1.

“The board of directors of Ecobank Kenya announces the appointment of Mr Samuel Ashitey Adjei as the new managing director designate of Ecobank Kenya. The appointment is effective from 1 April 2016 and is subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Kenya and other regulatory requirements,” said the Pan-African lender Tuesday in a statement.

Mr Kassi will be credited for turning around the bank from a loss of Sh1 billion to a profit of Sh40.9 million at the end of last September.

His reign was accompanied by an increase in the number of expatriates serving in the executive committee from two to eight, attracting the attention of the Banking Insurance and Financing Union.

One of the local employees dismissed during the staff restructuring under Mr Kassi, Henry Tanui, was awarded Sh6.2 million by the Employment and Labour Relations Court last December for unfair dismissal.

Mr Adjei’s appointment continues the reign of expatriates at the helm of the bank, which entered the country in 2008 through the acquisition of East Africa Building Society in 2008. Nigerian Tony Okpanachi headed the bank since 2008 before he was replaced by Mr Kassi from Ivory Coast.

In an interview with the Business Daily two weeks ago, Mr Kassi had said contracts of country managing directors usually run for three to five years. He had served for about two-and-a-half years.

“Our terms as managing director is usually three to five years, my predecessor did five years,” he said.

The change also comes at a time when Ecobank Group is restructuring its regional clustering in a move that will elevate Kenya to be the hub for 18 countries in East, South and Central Africa.

The other regional offices for the bank headquartered in Togo will be in Nigeria and Ghana. The group has made known its ambitions to grow Kenyan operations to the size of the other regional hubs.

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