BANK MANAGEMENTS HIT BY TSUNAMI
A storm with unforeseen consequences hit the bank highest circles in the beginning of 2001 and it's not clear when it will calm down. By end-August Tsunami swept away a bunch of managers, sending them to quite new places both in Bulgaria and abroad. At certain moments the replacements at the bank top levels were literally shocking. The scope of the calamity is already tangible in the financial performance of some big banks. This will one more time confirm the rule that a staff of good professionals is the major welth of any bank and everything else like the increase of clients, revenues, and capital, is a result of the personnel's skills.
BULBANK presented the first surprise. This year's sensation was the young executive director of Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria) Momchil Andreev, who joined the most profitable Bulgarian bank in March, 2001. But he was obviously not destined to remain there, as he spent only three months in the top Bulgarian financial institution. It is whispered that many people have tripped up the ambitious novice. According to the almost official explanation, the reason for parting with Andreev was that he had failed to adapt to the regime of the machine called BULBANK, which had difficulties to move at a higher speed after its privatisation. Andreev filed his resignation in June, and was reappointed Executive Director of Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria) in July.
But Andreev's resignation was the least of the personnel problems, which the new owner of BULBANK - UniCredito Italiano (holding 86.5% of the bank's capital) - faced. Several heads of departments and branch offices resigned after the end of the spring. The head of the Crediting Department Angel Gekov led off, and his subordinates Valentin Peev and Orlin Petrounov (also heads of departments) quitted the bank along with him. Angel Gekov was succeeded by Yordan Souvaliev, who is yet to justify his chiefs' confidence.
In July the head of BULBANK's Economic Analyses and PR Departament Alexandar Pruvchev also resigned. At the same time the managers of the bank's Varna and Rousse branch offices Dimitar Yovchev and Marin Marinov also vacated their postions. Yovchev headed ROSSEXIMBANK's branch in Bulgaria's seaside capital, while Marinov was appointed chief of Raiffesienbank (Bulgaria) in Rousse. In financial circles it is said that after the end of the holiday season the list of BULBANK resigned employees will increase.
It will not be easy for the Supervisory Board of the top Bulgarian bank to find a successor of its Executive Director Dimitar Atanassov, who will retire in September. And the contracts of the Management Board members Kiril Stefanov and Kiril Kalinov are expiring in November. It's up to the incumbent majority shareholder - UniCredito Italiano - to decide if Stefanov and Kalinov will be offered new contracts or if the situation in BULBANK's top management would be additionally complicated. If things develop that way, the new Chairman of BULBANK's Management Board Levon Hampartsumyan (who will assume his duties on September 1) and the Chief Executive Director Luiggi Lovalio would be tormented with work for recruiting the financial institutions's managerial team.
Bulgarian Post Bank was also hit by a thunderstorm regarding its personnel. Two years and a half after its privatisation (in November 1998) its owners - the financial group of the Greek millionaire Spiros Latsis EFG Banking Group and the US insurer AIG failed to make a good team with the Bulgarian managers. The credit institution's Management Board was reshuffled several times. About a dozen of foreign officials went through the bank's highest managerial levels without even succeeding to realize its problems. In May 2001 Panayotis Triandafelidis was released from the Management Board, while Anastasio Omeridis and Theodoros Karakasis were elected new members of the Board. In addition to the Chairman Vladimir Vladimirov the Management Board included also Reni Petkova, Oliver Whitle, David Barton, Atanasios Petropoulos (appointed in 2001) and Konstantinos Konstantelos. On May 16, however, immediately after the annual general meeting, Vladimirov and Petkanova filed their resignations. Thus, the operational management of Post Bank remained without a chairman of the Management Board. A Bulgarian is still sought to assume duties as chairman of the Management Board, perhaps not only in order to translate to the impressive Greek team the requirements of the Bulgarian clients and partners.
Vladimirov and Petkova are still refusing to make any comments on the concrete reasons for quitting the bank. But Post Bank's financial results at end-June suggest that the two Bulgarian managers have rejected the possibity of becoming passive witnesses of the loss-making policies of the credit institution. This is at least suggested by the fact that in mid-2001 Post Bank reported losses of almost BGL550,000, while three months earlier its profit exceeded BGL2.7MN.