Volume 17, Issue Number 883 of your Newspaper published on Sunday, April 2, 2017 carried a news story under the headline “Dashen Keeps Auction Under Wraps”. The story reports on the bid opening following the public tendering of 2,136 shares (with par value of Birr 1,000.-) previously held by foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin. The auction was conducted in accordance with the regulatory requirements of the National Bank of Ethiopia for relinquishing shares of foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin (Directive No. FIS/01/2016) and Dashen Bank’s procedure for open tenders.
Nonetheless, the news story, starting from the headline made highly opinionated assertions that the auction was “markedly different from peers” and that the “auction format was more closed than other banks”. The reporting sounds more of a prejudiced personal remark than a professionally measured and ethical reporting. The second sentence of the second paragraph, reads and I quote, “Its auction format was more closed than other banks, with bidders required to check in and present identification documents before being allowed into the auction floor”. The premise makes the conclusion drawn by the writer self defeating. The Bank has obligation to verify the identity of those who presented themselves at the auction, to ensure that they are the ones who have bought the tender document or rightly represent the bidders who have bought the tender document and are Ethiopian nationals, which is a mandatory legal requirement. This has been clearly stipulated in the tender announcement and there is no valid ground to delegitimize the conduct of checking Identification Cards during the auction. If there was any person denied of access to the auction floor, though unfortunate, it happened on legal grounds. This being the case, the references made towards the procedure as being “markedly different from peers” and “more closed” barely hold water.
This is an auction publicly announced on widely circulated Amharic newspapers, Reporter (Volume 22, Issue Number 1760, published on Sunday, March 12, 2017) and Addis Zemen (Volume 76, Issue Number 183 on Sunday, March 12, 2017). All interested Ethiopian nationals were invited to participate in the auction process starting from the date of public announcement until bid closing date. There were a lot of Bidders who bought the bid document. It is also an auction duly observed by those bidders who availed themselves or their representatives in person and presented valid identification card. The result of the auction was declared right after the close of the bidding process and in the presence of dully verified bidders and their representatives. It is this flawless procedure that is alleged to be conducted “under wraps”.
The writer further alleged that “representatives of Dashen Bank were unavailable for comment, despite repeated attempts”. This baseless claim was made when none has been requested to the knowledge of the undersigned to respond on the allegations. Nonetheless, the Director for Marketing & Corporate Communications has entertained inquiries of the writer of the news story on issues related to the auction to the best of his knowledge, though no reference of same was made in the news story.
The news story is found to be unprofessional and prejudiced. The reckless reporting has repercussions on the goodwill and reputation of the Bank, and also the newspaper.
Respectfully yours, Mulugeta Alebachew,
Director, Marketing & Corporate Communications