Ecobank Group has tasked its incoming chief executive Jeremy Awori with raising its return on assets and cutting costs as it looks to improve its profitability across the continent, the lender’s chairman has said.
The Togo-headquartered pan-African lender yesterday confirmed the appointment of Awori — the outgoing Absa Kenya chief executive — to replace Nigerian Ade Ayeyemi, who is set to retire after attaining the age of 60 in accordance with the bank’s policy.
Ecobank chair Alain Nkontchou said Awori beat his peers by his experience, delivering an above-average return on equity and reduction of cost-to-income ratios at Absa Kenya.
He said the Kenyan banker emerged the best fit for Ecobank as the lender consolidates its position on the continent through bringing costs down to 50 percent of income, managing structural currency losses, driving digital transformation and increasing profitability through diversified growth.
“Jeremy was fairly ahead of the pack in the sense of what he has been able to achieve in his previous career starting from return on equity of 23 percent over the last few years and cost-to-income ratio coming down from 56 to 43 per cent,” Nkontchou told Business Daily.
“So that’s a good performance, coupled with decent knowledge about the African market.”
Awori joins the pan-African lender at a time it is angling for a larger market share as multinational banks exit the continent
Barclays, Standard Chartered and Atlas Mara have exited several African markets recently, leaving a void for local banks to exploit.
“Obviously this opens some doors to Ecobank to capture some market share and which is always welcomed. We are, committed to the countries where we are investing, focusing on our customers and delivering a return to our shareholders,” Nkontchou said.
Ecobank is one of the largest banking groups on the continent outside of South Africa, with an asset base of Sh3.3 trillion ($27.5 billion) and more than 32 million customers in 33 markets across the continent.
Awori will however take over at a time when African lenders are being squeezed by currency woes— with the local currency losing value against the dollar and shortages of hard currency hitting some key markets such as Nigeria.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY