Fasika KebedeBy Bewket Abebe

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The Board of Directors of Enat Bank has suspended its founding president, Fasika Kebede, effective Thursday, September 26, 2013, Fortune has learnt.

The Board made the decision after a dispute arose between the president and board members over the resignation of employees at the top level, including the human resources director, who left the post recently, according to sources at the Bank.

The Board then intervened in the dispute by requesting the director to return to the Bank. The disagreement, however, aggravated when Fasika refused to allow the reinstatement, which led to her suspension, sources close to the issue told Fortune.

Fasika was said to have last been seen at the office on Tuesday afternoon, September 24, 2013. Some of the top management leaders say she is not in the office because she took a leave of absence.

“She is on leave. That is all I can tell you,” said Meaza Ashenafi, chairperson of the Board of Directors, who resisted confirming the suspension of the President.

An extraordinary meeting of the Board was held on Thursday, September 26, 2013, in the late evening, at the Bank’s headquarters in Enat Tower, located around Kazanchis in Kirkos District, an eyewitness confirmed to Fortune.

The Board then appointed Birtukan Gebreegzi, Enat’s vice president, as acting president, Fortune learnt.

Birtukan, who previously worked as a manager of international banking at the Bank of Abyssinia (BoA), was the first choice candidate proposed by the Board as President a year ago, when the Bank was getting ready to open its doors for the first time.

However, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) rejected the selection, saying that she lacked experience in credit mobilisation, forcing the Bank to search for other candidates.

Fasika was the bank’s third choice after the central bank further rejected the nomination of Brutawit Dawit Abdi, a veteran in Ethiopia’s private banking industry, due to issues related to her resignation from Zemen Bank where she had been president.

The Board of Directors was holding yet another serious and drawn-out meeting on Saturday, beginning at 8:30am. At around 1:00pm, the meeting was still in progress, without a break since its early start.

A Vice President who will take up the position previously held by Birtukan will be appointed, Meaza told Fortune.

The Bank – where women take six of the 11 seats on the board- is expected to appoint another woman to take up the now vacant position of Vice P resident.

It has thus far been administered by women in both the President and Vice President positions, in line with its vision to become a “world class bank mainly by leveraging women’s capabilities”.

Whether Fasika will come back to take up her position is, however, doubtful.

“She is on leave. I have no idea when she will get back,” Meaza told Fortune.

Source: AddisFortune.com