Egyptian bank CIB's shares swing wildly on reports of chairman exit

CAIRO/LONDON Oct 23 (Reuters) - The London-listed shares of Egypt’s Commercial International Bank (CIB) rebounded on Friday after plunging more than 40% in morning trade after local media reports that its chairman had been dismissed.

CIB, Egypt’s biggest listed bank, has substantial foreign holdings and Chairman Hisham Ezz al-Arab is among the country’s leading bankers and a well-known figure in Middle Eastern finance.

The bank, Ezz al-Arab and the Egyptian central bank did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters and there were no reports on Egypt’s state news agency.

The Egyptian stock exchange said it had suspended CIB’s shares from trading in Cairo after a request from the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) on Thursday morning. The exchange and FRA could not be reached for comment.

The bank, which says it has 207 branches and serves 1.4 million customers, held a lengthy board meeting on Thursday afternoon, a CIB communications officer said.

Its global depository receipts (GDRs) in London fell as much as 41% on Friday morning before recovering to trade up on the day. The GDRs fell 17% on Thursday.

CIB’s Cairo-listed shares last traded on Oct 21, Refinitiv data shows.

A letter purporting to be from Egypt’s central bank circulated on social media on Thursday, informing CIB Chief Executive Hussein Abaza that the central bank had decided to dismiss Ezz al-Arab for alleged financial malpractice, utilising a new law passed this year.

Reuters could not verify the letter or whether Ezz al-Arab had been the subject of any malpractice investigation.

Ezz al-Arab has led a team that has transformed the bank from a wholesale lender into one that leads its sector in revenue, net worth and market share of deposits, its website says.

Egypt’s private banking sector has gradually expanded over past few decades and the government has been more aggressive in privatising banks than in many other sectors.

The central bank has been planning to sell stakes in several banks it owns, including Banque du Caire, Egypt’s third largest state-owned bank, but plans have been put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Reporting by Ehab Farouk, Patrick Werr and Nadine Awadalla in Cairo Writing by Aidan Lewis and Rachel Armstrong Editing by David Goodman)