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Exiting Absa boss Jeremy Awori linked to top Ecobank job

Absa Bank MD Jeremy Awori speaking during a partnership between Absa Bank & KEPSA to train and provide work opportunities for youth in the Digital Economy. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Outgoing Absa Bank Kenya chief executive Jeremy Awori is a front runner for a similar position at pan-African lender Ecobank Transnational Incorporated Group, Standard Business has learnt. 

Awori is a top contender to replace the bank's current group chief executive and veteran banker Ade Ayeyemi. 

This is according to three West African bankers privy to the recruitment process. Two sources are based in Lagos, Nigeria while one is based in Lomé, Togo where the bank is headquartered. 

The reasons behind the planned Ecobank corner office changes were not immediately clear. 

Ecobank had not responded to queries by Standard Business by the time of going to press. 

Absa Bank Kenya announced last week that Mr Awori will leave the tier one lender at the end of October “to pursue other interests” after nearly a decade at the helm.

"Awori has decided to pursue a career opportunity outside the Absa Group,” said the lender in a statement on September 8.

“Consequently, Jeremy will be stepping down as CEO and managing director of Absa Bank Kenya Plc on 31 October 2022.” 

Sources in Lagos said the appointment of Mr Awori, 51, to the regional helm of Ecobank would bode well for the lender's push to domesticate its operations in the region based on his vast experience.

For many years, Ecobank has been trying to find new avenues to grow focusing on rapid expansion into new countries across Africa but has slowed this down to focus on markets that are most profitable such as Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.

"It is a bold step for the organisation and will go a long way in domesticating its operations and spreading its influence," said a source who sought anonymity. 

Ecobank, which is headquartered in Togo and listed on three African securities exchanges including in Lagos, Accra, and Abidjan, had assets of $27.5 billion (Sh3.3 trillion) at the end of last year, according to the bank’s latest annual report.

This compares to Absa Bank Kenya's assets of Sh428 billion in the same period.

Equity Group which is Kenya's largest bank had assets of Sh1.3 trillion as of December while KCB Group had total assets of Sh1.13 trillion in the same period, signalling Awori will be taking on a bigger mandate than he holds at Absa Bank Kenya if confirmed for the role and also larger than held by two of Kenya's largest banks.

Ecobank has operations in 34 African countries and a subsidiary in Paris, France and has a workforce of 13,000 employees.

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