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W. Ross: New Board heralds new era for BOCY

07/10/2014 06:02
The depositors and the shareholders of Bank of Cyprus should be thrilled with the proposed Board of Directors, says Wilbur Ross, after the announcement of a list of ten individuals for the new Board.

Mr. Ross and Tyrus Capital announced yesterday that they propose to the Annual General Meeting of the Bank on November 20 six new directors and the reelection of four of the existing directors.

Among the new names is that of Josef Ackermann, former CEO of Deutsche Bank for the position of non-executive chairman. It was also announced that Mr. Ross and current Vice Chairman, Vladimir Strzhalkovskiy, are proposed as Vice Chairmen of the Bank.

"This is a fully international board, bringing together tremendous expertise and experience”, Mr. Ross noted.

Mr. Ross stressed the deep banking knowledge and experience that some of the new Board members have, as well as the significant management experience of the Russians and the Cypriots in the Board.

The new Board is "quite representative", said the 76-year old founder of the hedge fund, which organized a €500 million investment in the Bank in August. Mr. Ross has experience in restructuring banks, including Virgin Money, Kansai Sawayaka Bank of Japan and other banks in the USA. Previously, he sold his steel company to Arcelor Mittal.

In addition to the recruitment to experienced foreign bankers, Mr. Ross believes that the presence of Cypriots in the Board is important, though Cypriots have relatively small stake in the Bank.

The proposed Board includes the finance manager of the Bank, Christakis Patsalides, the former Board member of the Central Bank and CEO of Coca Cola Cyprus, Mike Spanos, and the current Board members Marios Kalochoritis and Ioannis Zografakis.

The new composition of the Board of Directors signals confidence to the depositors and the shareholders of the Bank, Mr. Ross said.

"We want the stock to go very well for the benefit of the shareholders, many of whom were bailed-in”, says the American investor, who is the only one who has been elected in both the Turnaround Management Hall of Fame and the Private Equity Hall of Fame.

The existing 14-member Board of the Bank is larger than the new regulations of the Central Bank, which restrict the maximum number of directors to 13.

The CB has asked all existing directors to resign ahead of the AGM.

Mr. Ross told StockWatch that "the proposed size of the new Board is adequate for the time," and stressed that "there is a little room for 1-2 more members" in addition to the 10 already proposed.

In relation to the representation of the interests of Laiki Bank, which holds 9.7% stake in BOCY, Mr. Ross emphasized that "it is our intention to have regular and fulsome discussions with the parties that have been bailed-in, as they hold a significant stake in the Bank”.

"We seek to have direct communication with them," he said.

With regard to the composition of the Board, Mr. Ross noted that there is sufficient independence of the Board members from the management of the Bank.

"We made a very representative Board, with great expertise, which sends the right signals and enhances the confidence of depositors and shareholders of BOCY”, he notes.