Equity’s quest for control sparks war at African mortgage firm
Equity Bank’s quest to consolidate its grip on Kenya-based home loans firm Housing Finance has sparked a vicious boardroom battle that is promising shareholders a rare peep into the corporate world’s most jealously guarded secrets and a chance to question some of the most common management practices. The bare knuckle war broke out on Wednesday following Tuesday’s board meeting that saw two directors resign in protest at the manner in which Equity Bank was reshaping the mortgage lenders board since it acquired a significant stake in the firm five years ago. “I am deeply aggrieved and ashamed to have witnessed such a circus in what can best be described as corporate terrorism,” said Beatrice Sabana, a director of Housing Finance, in a letter to the company’s managing director Frank Ireri, referring to the stormy Tuesday board meeting. Equity is being accused of teaming up with its business partner Britak to exert undue influence on the company’s governance structures in total disregard of the interests of minority shareholders through installation of puppets in the board.