Heads roll at ABCH

…new CE appointed

Atlas Mara, the parent company of African Banking Corporation Holdings (ABCH), has appointed its chief executive John Vitalo as the head of the pan-African banking entity as heads roll at the institution amid concerns over the poor perfomance of the financial services group, businessdigest has established.

By Bernard Mpofu

Vitalo, former Barclays Plc CE (Middle East and North Africa), took over from Blessing Mudavanhu on Monday as CE.

Mudavanhu succeeded Doug Munatsi, who exited the group after he sold his stake to Atlas Mara. The business is co-owned by former Barclays Plc CE Bob Diamond and billionaire Ashish Thakkar.

Atlas Mara has embarked on a restructuring exercise that could result in up to 35% job cuts at ABC Holdings and its Dubai office. Around US$8 million is expected in savings annually.

This comes as Atlas Mara moves to lower its cost-to-income ratio that rose to 102% in the six months to June from 95% in prior year as expenses rose.

“Effective August 29 2016, John Vitalo will take on the role of CEO of ABC Holdings (“ABCH”) as part of the organisation’s strategy to advance business performance. In light of recent financial performance and the sense of urgency required to deliver the plan for this year, the board of directors of ABCH has resolved that it is in the best interest of ABCH and its subsidiary banks to implement senior management and structural changes within the organisation,” said the group’s board in a confidential internal memo seen by businessdigest read.

“We recognise that with such change comes uncertainty and anxiety. We trust that John and the management team will continue to foster a culture of openness, accountability and performance.

“Much work lies ahead as we push onward to build a premier financial services institution. Thank you for your continued hard work. Your commitment has allowed us to achieve all of our successes so far and we are confident that it will carry us through our next phase of growth towards becoming the best bank in Africa.”

The group also recommitted to building the “best bank in Africa” after ABC Holdings merged with the Finance Bank of Zambia to improve operating efficiencies.

ABC Holdings operates BancABC, a commercial banking unit, which is 98,70% owned by Atlas Mara.

Vitalo has extensive African and international banking experience after heading Barclays Middle East and North Africa markets and Absa Capital CE.

Last week, Atlas Mara said it would cut jobs and costs after first-half expenses outpaced revenue growth and profit declined 71%.

“We have executed a group-wide cost reduction programme to align our cost base with current revenue environment,” the group said in a statement.

The ABC acquisition was the first major deal by Diamond who was forced out of the global bank last year when it was fined US$450 million for allegedly manipulating the Libor interbank lending rate.

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