NAIROBI, November 19- Chris Mwebesa has resigned as the Chief Executive Officer of the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE).
NSE First Vice Chairman Mr Bob Karina confirmed to Capital News on Wednesday that Mr Mwebesa issued his resignation letter on October 15th and that he would serve as the CEO until the end of December.
“He’s leaving in search of greener pastures. We (the board) have managed to keep it under wraps until now,” he said while referring to the leaked information to the media.
Mr Mwebesa’s three-year contract was only renewed by the NSE board in July this year. A source who didn’t want to be quoted said the delay by the board in renewing his contract – which expired in February – might have been the reason why he sought to exit from the helm of the bourse. Mr Mwebesa was not available to confirm or deny the claim.
He had been the NSE boss since 2005 and was credited with steering the bourse to its highest growth in its 53-year history and also in making it the leading stock exchange in East Africa and the 5th largest in Africa.
He oversaw the launch of five Initial Public Offers including the Safaricom IPO, which was touted as the largest in the region and was also responsible for the successful implementation of the Automated Trading System of the NSE.
Prior to joining the NSE three years ago, Mr Mwebesa had served as the head of business development at AIG global Investment Company (East Africa) and was also the Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic Investment Management Services, a subsidiary of now CFC Stanbic bank.
Mr Karina further disclosed that that the board had contracted a professional recruitment agency and would be conducting interviews for his replacement on Thursday.
“We have been sourcing (for a replacement) since he told us that he’s leaving and we shall be making the announcement about the new CEO on Friday,” he said.
Mr Karina, who’s also the Managing Director of Faida Investment Bank said the incoming chief executive would be expected to be one with a finance background and one who can take the market to the next level.
“He should be someone whose profile is acceptable to the investment fraternity and one who has some experience in the running of the market,” he revealed.
At the same time, Mr Karina expressed confidence that the various reform initiatives that were being undertaken to improve the operations of the NSE would go on as scheduled despite Mr Mwebesa’s exit.
He added that none of the proposed programs such as demutualisation and margin trading would be delayed following the revelations that Mr Mwebesa would be leaving at the end of December.
“The stock exchange is run through committees. For example, there is a committee that is dealing with demutualisation and it has been continuing with the process and nothing will slow down at all. It would be wrong if the head of an institution leaves and the whole process collapses,” he added.
Mr Karina said the demutualisation process which means that the private ownership of the bourse will be separated from the management, would be completed next year.
He also said that although the information about the CEO’s resignation had leaked, it did not have any effect on the trading activities at the bourse.
“There could be a slight drop in the index but it is not out of the norm. There is no indication that the market has come down because of the news,” Mr Karina said adding that in the last few days the market had been bearish.
He expressed optimism that the announcement of an incoming chief executive would assure investors that there will be no vacuum in the bourse which would help bolster trading activities.