WPP Scangroup’s #ticker:SCAN founder and long-serving chief executive Bharat Thakrar, who had been suspended last month from the marketing services firm over unspecified allegations of gross misconduct, has resigned.
Mr Thakrar, 69, was suspended alongside the chief finance officer Satyabrata Das, on February 18.
“The company announces that the chief executive officer, Mr Bharat Thakrar, has tendered his resignation as CEO and board member, which the Board has accepted. Mr Thakrar has also resigned a director of the company’s subsidiaries and affiliates,” the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm said in a statement.
“The investigation into the allegations of gross misconduct and possible offences against the two executives will continue,” the board said.
Scangroup said search for a new CEO will now start as chief operating officer Alec Graham serves in an interim basis.
Suspension of the CFO indicates that the allegations facing the executives could be financial in nature.
Mr Thakrar was the first chief executive of an NSE-listed firm to be suspended or sacked publicly for ethical misconduct. Most firms have opted not to disclose the reasons for the sudden departure of their leaders.
Mr Thakrar has been the face of Scangroup which he took public on August 29, 2006 in an initial public offering (IPO) that raised Sh94 million.
He was the top shareholder at the time with a 28.53 per cent stake and his holdings was at one time valued at more than Sh1 billion. His ownership now has a mark-to-market value of about Sh250 million.
He sold his shares over the years, contributing to his ownership dropping to the current 10.6 per cent.
UK-based conglomerate WPP on the other hand raised its stake in the company to a controlling 56.3 per cent through a mix of share purchases and folding some of its subsidiaries into Scangroup.
Since he took the CEO post in 1999, Mr Thakrar always enjoyed an open-ended contract with the end of his contract marked N/A (not applicable).
The cushy arrangement, which had lasted 13 years, came to an abrupt end when he was suspended.
The bold move by Scangroup is seen as the application of WPP Plc’s strict ethical codes. The multinational has a detailed code of business conduct that states its commitment to fight a raft of crimes and misdemeanours including bribery, discrimination and insider trading.