Less than three years after becoming CEO of Israel's biggest bank, Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) CEO Arik Pinto unexpectedly announced today that he planned to leave his position by the end of the year. Pinto gave no hint of what was to come when he appeared earlier today at the ceremony marking the beginning of trading in Isracard's shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).
Bank Hapoalim recently became a bank without a controlling core after Shari Arison began selling her shares in the bank on the TASE. Being CEO of a bank without a controlling core strengthened Pinto's status by paving the way for its executives to exercise effective control over the company.
Sources close to Pinto said that he was leaving the bank because he felt that he had nothing left to achieve there and wanted to try hand in new fields. Banking sector sources said that Pinto's term had not been an easy one, with quite a few challenges, especially the US investigation into Bank Hapoalim, which required large financial and managerial resources. The investigation expanded, with Bank Hapoalim providing NIS 3 billion to date in accounting provision and legal expenses for it in its reports. Pinto plans on concluding the affair before leaving Bank Hapoalim.
Pinto also had to deal with the Promotion of Competition and Reduction of Concentration Law, which forced Bank Hapoalim to relinquish Isracard, the bank's streamlining program, and other matters. He more than once criticized the increasing regulation of the banking system and the law limiting executive salaries in the financial sector, which lowered the salary ceiling for him and many other executives to NIS 2.5 million.
Pinto, 57, worked at Bank Hapoalim for 39 years. He climbed the management ladder before reaching the top. He was close to former Bank Hapoalim CEO Zion Kenan, who favored Pinto's appointment as CEO. It is unclear who will replace Pinto. A number of current Bank Hapoalim executives can be cited as candidates: Golan Scherman, Erez Yosef, Tzahi Cohen, and Yadin Antebi.
Pinto said today, "I never thought I would work at the bank for 40 years in a row. I feel that this is the best time for me to look back with pride and satisfaction, and to realize other dreams and challenges in the future." Bank Hapoalim chairperson Oded Eran added, "I accept with regret Arik's decision to leave the bank at the end of 2019. I will be personally separated from a friend whom I appreciate and love."
The Bank of Israel said that the Supervisor of Banks had been informed of Pinto's intention to resign as CEO of Bank Hapoalim when his employment contract expires in December 2019. The Supervisor of Banks spoke with Eran about it, who informed her that the bank's board of directors would form a committee to select a new CEO.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 15, 2019
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