In an unprecedented turn of events, Dashen Bank has lost both its President, Berhanu W. Sellasie and its Vice President for Resource & Facilities Management, Abebe Teklu in less than a week’s time, while the board chairman hints that their replacements could come from within the Bank.
The President and Vice President, who were not available for comment, tendered their resignations within days of each other as the former presented his to letter the Board of Directors on Friday April 3, 2015, while the latter submitted his letter to the President on Monday March 30, 2015.
“People come, people go, this is normal,” the newly elected Board Chairman of the Bank, Teka Asfaw told Fortune. “There are competent people in the Bank who can take their places.”
Berhanu, who had been serving the Bank as a Vice President for Systems & Operations under Leulseged Teferi, took over the presidency when Leulseged left the bank in February 2012.
Dashen Bank, under the presidency of Berhanu, made a net profit of 712.48 million Br, in 2013/14, up from the preceding year’s 606.7 million Br. It was the highest profit a private bank ever made in Ethiopia. Nevertheless, the earnings per share had declined from 832 Br to 670 Br.
“There is not much significant difference in the performance of the bank from the time of Leulseged,” said Teka. “It is undeniable that the capital and the deposit mobilisation of the Bank have increased, this is not individual but rather collective success; the bottom workers need to be appreciated more than the management.”
Berhanu’s resignation followed a resignation by Abebe whose resignation was accepted on Monday March 30, 2015, by Berhanu himself himself and Berhanu tendered his resignation to the extraordinary meeting that the board called on April 3, 2015, at Sheraton Hotel prior to the planned meeting of Wednesday. Berhanu told Fortune at the time that Abebe was leaving on his own will. Both Berhanu and Abebe were later not available for comment, as both were not answering their phones.
“As many of the board members were planning to go abroad, we made the meeting on Friday; the quorum would not be fulfilled if we waited for that time to come,” said Teka.
The Board of Directors of the Bank has nine members and the quorum is fulfilled when five of the nine are present.
Abebe had been Controller at the bank since June 2005, before he assumed the position as a vice president, in October 2012.
The Controller is responsible for the accounting operations of the company including the production of periodic financial reports and maintenance of an adequate system of accounting records.
Despite unconfirmed reports earlier that a Vice President for a key department was contemplating leaving the Bank, the only remaining Vice President, Abebe Girmay, in charge of the IT department, told Fortune that he had no intention to resign.
“I’m with no intention to leave,” Abebe said in a written statement he sent to Fortune.
The new board, elected in November 14, 2014 and approved by the central bank on December 17, accepted both resignations on April 3rd, sources disclosed to Fortune.
“We had conducted evaluation at department level and found holes in the performance of the departments in the logistics, human resource planning and engineering,” Teka says.
Teka also confirmed that there had been an on-going investigation on the President and Vice President who resigned in relation to their work procedures. The investigation has been abandoned, because it was something they could not be held legally accountable for. But he says he believes that this is not the reason for the resignation.
The board, after coming to power, started implementing a work procedure called “Operation, Leadership, and Organisation” in order to “improve the work procedure and customer satisfaction in the Bank”.
In order to put these procedures into effect, a department called Change Management Project Office was established to train the administrative body and the other staff.
“There might be people that are frustrated by this and plan to leave; the case with the ones who resigned will be known in time whether it is with this reason or not,” Teka stated.
The board is also planning to establish a new structure for the Bank that will based at district level and authority such as disbursing loans will be vested in those in charge.
“The management at the head office level needs to work on policy and strategy issues only and other implementation issues can be dispersed to the District Managers,” Teka says. “The power on the top has to be dispersed.”
The Board has appointed Asfaw Alemu, vice president for Operations Management, as an acting president, Teka confirmed to Fortune.
“We will be looking for competitive candidates to fill the position, giving priority to the existing workers; if we cannot find from inside, we will go on recommendations,” said Teka.
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