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Banking

Essien’s Ecobank charm offensive

Albert Essien has brought much-needed calm to a bank that, just a few months ago, was in crisis. Ecobank’s African network remains intact. It now has two powerful, strategic shareholders. But can the bank avoid repeating the mistakes of the past?

Albert Essien

Money doesn’t like noise.”

Albert Essien, chief executive of Africa’s Ecobank for a little more than six months now, speaks these words with a resigned smile. He knows all too well the truth of the statement he has just repeated.

Ecobank was the boardroom battle that played out in the media. It resulted in an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria, the removal of a chairman and the dismissal of the CEO. The bank was in turmoil.

When you start washing your dirty linen in public, anything can come out,” says Essien. “If for some reason you start bringing issues from the house onto the street, you may not be the worst couple, but you start to appear that way. Problems like this should be resolved at home.”

He goes on: “Everything that happens in the boardroom should stay in that room. But it didn’t. After every board meeting something was leaked, something went out. Ask yourself who was this mole and why would people do that?”

There was speculation that the bank would struggle to recover from the infighting and hostility that had come to characterize the board.

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