By James Anyanzwa
Talk about masters of turnaround strategies in the corporate world and to some quarters the name of Reuben Marambii, the out-going managing director for the National Bank of Kenya (NBK) would feature.
Though his earlier initiatives may have faltered towards the end tail of his career the bank, he is, however credit to have revived the then struggling State-owned bank.
At the end of this year (December) Mr Marambii will be hanging up his gloves after more than a decade fighting to return the bank back on its feet.
The University of Nairobi trained accountant has, indeed, been instrumental in returning NBK to the profit making territory, which culminated in the bank paying its first dividend in 12 years in 2010 and the second dividend last year. The last time NBK paid dividends to shareholders was in 1997.
Marambii joined NBK in 1999 after being seconded from Central Bank of Kenya where he served as manager in-charge of banking operations.
Upon taking up his new job he realised that his immediate challenge was to rescue NBK from crumpling under a bad loans weight of Sh36 billion associated with politically connected individuals.
The bankâs books equally told a frightening tale with customer deposits having fallen by almost a half, from Sh25 billion to Sh14 billion.
The bad debts associated with politically connected individuals pushed the bank into massive losses in the late 1990s and early 2000.
Although NBK started making profits in 2003, accumulated losses in previous years denied shareholders the chance to earn dividends as the lender was still in a negative capital position.
However, under Marambiiâs leadership the Government in June 2007 issued NBK with four special bonds with maturities of between three and 15 years worth Sh20 billion to clear debts it had guaranteed to State-owned institutions in the 1990s.
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