Ecobank Said to Pay $12 Million to End Dispute With Ex-CEO

  • Out of court settlement ends cases in West Africa, England
  • Shares drop in Lagos trading to end three days of gains

Ecobank Transnational Inc. settled an almost three-year long dispute with former Chief Executive Officer Thierry Tanoh which stretched to courts across three countries, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The lender agreed to pay Tanoh $12 million to end all legal action related to his termination, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. An agreement was signed Thursday by the bank, Tanoh and the Public Investment Corp., South Africa’s state-owned money manager and Ecobank’s third-largest shareholder, Ecobank said in a statement Friday that didn’t give details on the magnitude of the settlement.

“We decided the best way forward was to settle out of court,” Dan Matjila, the CEO of the Pretoria-based PIC, said by phone. He declined to give details on the size of the settlement.

Tanoh, an Ivorian who was last working in the office of President Alassane Ouattara, left the bank in 2014 as Nigerian regulators investigated allegations of management fraud and poor governance while he was CEO in 2013. He denied any wrongdoing. He sued Ecobank for unfairly terminating his contract in Togo and for defamation in Ivory Coast, winning both cases last year. A London judge overturned an order in July blocking payments of about $24 million that had been awarded to Tanoh.

Upset Investors

Ecobank, which operates in more than 35 sub-Saharan African countries and has about $23 billion of assets, has shares trading in Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Cost. The stock fell 1 percent 15.60 naira in Lagos on Friday, ending three days of gains.

“It will be an expense on the income statement of the bank,” Lanre Buluro, an equity broker and analyst with Primera Africa Securities Ltd., said by phone from Lagos. “It’s not something they expect. Investors will be upset.”

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