Division paralyzes Eximbank board functioning

The failure of lender Eximbank to hold its annual general meeting for a second year in a row indicates a deep schism within the board.

Few shareholders show up at the annual general meeting of Eximbank on July 29, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Phuong Dong.

It began with two factions bickering over the chairman’s position in 2019.

In March that year the board decided to dismiss Le Minh Quoc as chairman, but he filed a lawsuit against this, saying five of the eight-member board were not present at the meeting, and therefore the decision was unjustifiable.

The court set aside the dismissal and ordered that all matters should be resolved first.

In May 2019, when the board met again, Quoc and the majority of the board rescinded his dismissal.

But Dang Anh Mai, a member of the opposing three-member faction, said this had been made while they had stepped outside and were not at the meeting.

When he asked Quoc to prolong the meeting to discuss the matter, the latter declined.

"Inspectors from the State Bank of Vietnam recently approved the decision [to rescind his termination]," Quoc said recently.

The board remains divided, with Mai and the two other directors not showing up for a majority of board meetings last year since they do not recognize the legitimacy of Quoc who convened them.

The three-member faction is supported by a group of shareholders owning a 51-percent stake that has repeatedly demanded the replacement of the current board and refused to allow annual general meetings.

They did so by not showing up at the 2021 general meeting last month, and voting against the board conducting the 2020 meeting which was also hosted last month.

It was the third failed attempt to hold the 2020 AGM.

Quoc and his faction, who lack a majority shareholder vote, cannot sack the three directors.

Without the AG being held, shareholders have not approved the business plan for last year even now.

Amid the chaos, Eximbank saw pre-tax profit rise by 22 percent last year to VND1.34 trillion ($58.5 million).

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