Thursday’s departure of Wilfred Kiboro as Standard Chartered Bank chairman left the markets guessing his next move in Kenya’s relatively small but vibrant corporate landscape where experience earns top marks in any race for boardroom seats.
Interest in Mr Kiboro’s resignation, which was officially announced through a lunch time Press release, arose from the fact that Family Bank had earlier invited the press to a breakfast meeting at the Serena Hotel this morning in which he was lined up as one of the main speakers.
Family Bank said it would make “very important announcements” at the event raising speculation that Mr Kiboro was headed for a similar position in the local lender.
Family Bank chairman Titus Muya and chief executive Peter Munyiri were listed as the other speakers at the early morning event.
Though it was not possible to establish what role Mr Kiboro, who is also the chairman of the Nation Media Group, would play at Family Bank, analysts said his presence in the bank’s board would offer Mr Muya the best opportunity to comply with key banking regulations on ownership and corporate governance.
Mr Muya is the founder and single largest shareholder at Family Bank with a 17.3 per cent stake as at the end of last year.
The position left him at odds with the Central Bank of Kenya which is pushing to have independent directors chair the boards of banks as a bulwark against possible conflict of interest. The CBK defines an independent director as one whose shareholding is less than five per cent.
The Capital Market Authority also discourages non-independent directors from chairing NSE-listed firms, making it imperative for Family Bank which has ambitions of listing at the bourse in the next two years to start shopping for Mr Muya’s replacement.
Though Mr Kiboro’s decision to leave a mature and stable bank such as StanChart for the much smaller Family Bank may look puzzling, some analysts see it as strategic.
“He may feel that Family offers him a chance to apply his vast experience in mentoring budding corporate executives in the bank and help grow it to the big league, making it part of his self-actualisation agenda,” said one analyst who did not want to be named commenting on the matter before knowing Mr Kiboro’s exact role at Family Bank. “That is where the growth potential is.”
Standard Chartered Bank said Mr Kiboro had stepped down as chair of its board with effect from November 2, 2012 to pursue other interests.
He has been replaced in an interim capacity by Anne Mutahi, an independent and non-executive director of the bank.
Mrs Mutahi is the wife of former Information minister Mutahi Kagwe and the daughter of former Environment minister John Michuki.
Mr Kiboro’s exit brings to a close a six-year stint in StanChart’s board which Richard Etemesi, the bank’s chief executive described as “valuable and inspiring”.
“Mr Kiboro inspired the management of StanChart, making invaluable contributions in building corporate governance between the bank and its various stakeholders,” Mr Etemesi said. “We will miss him and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Mr Kiboro, 68, joined Stanchart’s board on April 2, 2007 and became its chairman two years later on May 28, 2009.
He has previously served as CEO of the Nation Media Group and as managing director of Rank Xerox Kenya.
He also chairs Wilfay Investments Limited, a family owned enterprise.
Mr Kiboro holds a Bachelor of Science degree (Civil Engineering) from the University of Nairobi and has become one of the highly regarded leaders in corporate Kenya.
Demand for boardroom skills is expected to rise further in the near term as the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) prepares to cap the age of Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed company directors at 75 years.
There are currently more than 10 directors of NSE-listed firms aged 75 years or more, with CMA drafting new laws that will pave the way for their resignations.