NBK on the spot over failure to reveal sacking of CEO


Former National Bank managing director Munir Sheikh Ahmed. PHOTO | FILE

Troubled lender National Bank is once again on the spot for belatedly reporting the exit of its chief executive and two other senior managers without notifying the capital markets regulator and the investing public within 24 hours as required by law.

Munir Sheikh Ahmed, the bank’s suspended chief executive, last week revealed that he left National Bank’s corner office on April 13, 2016, a fortnight after he was sent on compulsory leave along with five other senior executives.

National Bank on Friday sent a notice to the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) notifying them of the management changes - more than a week after Mr Ahmed had left.

National Bank’s regulatory filing, made public on Monday, also says the bank’s chief finance officer, Chris Kisire, and executive director in charge of corporate institutional and business banking, Boniface Biko, had left.

Companies listed at the Nairobi bourse are required to notify the public and the CMA of all material information - such as executive changes, profit alerts – within 24 hours of their occurrence.

“An issuer shall disclose all material information … within 24 hours of the happening of the event,” the CMA regulations state. This is the
second time in less than a month that NBK is breaching listing regulations, having reported a Sh1.15 billion full-year loss without prior warning to investors as is provided by law.

The CMA on April 8, 2016 disclosed that it had fined National Bank an undisclosed amount for failing to publicly issue a profit alert ahead of announcing a loss.

National Bank declined to comment on this story and the mid-sized lender also refused to confirm the exact date it sacked Mr Ahmed.

“I’ve exited. It was a sack. Suspension was a nice way of putting it,” said Mr Ahmed last Friday in an exclusive interview with the Daily Nation.

Mr Ahmed regretted that the public sector does not reward performance, noting he had helped the bank diversify its products, cut expenses to improve cost to income ratio, grow balance sheet and use technology to improve operations.

“I took up this job with a lot of enthusiasm. But I’ve now established that doesn’t work well in public sector. It creates a lot of enemies,” said Mr Ahmed who took over the bank on August 1, 2012.

READ: National Bank of Kenya confirms sacking of former CEO

Wilfred Musau, the bank’s director of retail and premium banking, is now acting managing director of the bank pending fresh recruitment of a CEO.

Kenya’s capital markets regulator Monday said it was duly notified of the executive changes at NBK last Friday and was seeking proof that there was a one-week delay in making public the notice.

“We would welcome any evidence that may be in your possession that would suggest the above referenced notice of changes in management was lodged out of time to inform appropriate action by the authority,” CMA said in response to queries from the Business Daily.

The CMA had in National Bank’s profit warning debacle said the lender was in compliance, only to make a dramatic U-turn one week later to slap the bank with a financial penalty.

READ: CMA punishes NBK for breach of profit alert rules

The drama at National Bank started on March 29, 2016 evening when the bank’s board of directors directed Mr Ahmed and five other manages to “immediately proceed on leave but will be expected to comply and make key submissions to the internal audit process.”

The following morning, National Bank notified the CMA of a profit warning and later at midnight the released full-year results without first publishing in the dailies the profit alert.

The surprise net loss of Sh1.15 billion for the period to December 2015 came after National Bank had made a net profit of Sh2.25 billion in the nine months ended September 2015.

National Bank said the earnings were hit by a sevenfold increase in loan impairment costs, which saw provisions to cover for bad loans hit Sh3.7 billion compared to Sh525 million as at December 2014.

The bank’s gross toxic loans grew by nearly two-thirds to Sh11.7 billion in the period under review, reflecting deteriorating asset quality.

Mr Ahmed said he is not to blame for the bank’s non-performing loan portfolio, saying all loans were approved by National Bank’s board credit committee which was responsible for review of the quality and performance of the credit portfolio.

“All the loans were approved by the board credit committee as well as entire board. The ultimate responsibility lies them. I didn’t make any decisions,” Mr Ahmed said in an interview.