Ecobank’s Profit Climbs After Pan-African Lender Curbs Expenses

Ecobank Transnational Inc’s profit climbed last year as Africa’s most diverse lender by geography curbed increases in expenses.

Net income more than doubled to $394.8 million from $147.8 million in 2013, the Lome, Togo-based bank said in a statement Monday published on the Nigerian Stock Exchange website.

“The focus on driving efficiencies in our businesses paid off, with operating expenses up 6 percent,” Chief Executive Officer Albert Essien said in the statement. “All our geographic clusters increased revenues higher than operating expenses.”

The bank’s cost-to-income ratio, a measure of efficiency, improved to 65 percent from 70 percent, it said in the statement. Assets rose 8 percent to $24.2 billion.

Ecobank has shares traded in Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast and operates in 36 African countries. The lender is embroiled in a battle with former CEO Thierry Tanoh. Tanoh, who left Ecobank a year ago, won defamation cases against the lender in Ivory Coast and Togo for wrongful dismissal.

Ecobank has been in dispute with Tanoh since 2013 after regulators investigated allegations of management fraud and poor governance. Tanoh has denied any wrongdoing. The bank, ordered to pay Tanoh about 13.2 billion CFA francs ($21.5 million), is appealing the judgments and intends to fight his claims in English courts after appealing judgments made in Ivory Coast and Togo, Essien said in March.

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