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Top NCBA executives exit bank amid layoffs

By Peter Theuri | January 1st 2021
One of the NCBA branches (PHOTO: File)

Jeremy Ngunze has left his position as the Executive Director of NCBA Bank Group and Group Director Corporate Development and Regional Business.

In a public notice on Thursday, NCBA said Mr Ngunze had opted for early retirement alongside Livingstone Murage, who was until yesterday the Group Company Secretary and Group Director - Governance.

Ngunze had been at the bank for 12 years, while Murage’s exit marked the end of his 35-year stint at the lender.

NCBA, which became Kenya’s third-largest bank by market size following the merger with NIC Bank last September, had earlier announced plans to retrench staff amid a tough operating environment in the wake of Covid-19.

“Today, I announce that we are embarking on a process to reorganise our workforce, which will result in reduction of staff headcount,” said Managing Director John Gachora in a statement to employees in November.

“For a company whose brand purpose is to inspire greatness, this is incredibly difficult to confront,” added Mr Gachora.

The reorganisation, he said, would be two-fold, with the first phase entailing a voluntary exit programme (VEP), which would see employees who wish to exit the company do so with a benefits package.

In the second phase, whose outcome will depend on the VEP, workers will be declared redundant.

To survive the tough times, Gachora said the bank had since taken certain actions, including the reversal of an earlier recommendation to pay cash dividends to shareholders and early redemption of the bank’s medium-term notes to save on interest payments.

It has also closed more than a dozen branches where there was duplicity to cut costs.

By the end of September, the banking industry had restructured close to Sh1.3 trillion worth of loans as part of efforts to help customers cope with the effects of Covid-19.

Of the seven tier-one banks, NCBA and Absa Kenya suffered the highest drop in profitability in the first nine months of 2020, reporting pretax profits of 65 per cent and 59 per cent respectively.

NCBA also recalled its dividends for the financial year ending 2019.

Reorganising NCBA’s workforce, Gachora noted, would protect the future of the company.

He said while the bank had intended to retain all staff from the combined entities of NIC and CBA, the pandemic had disrupted such plans.

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