Compromise in Sight: Dankner to Leave Bank Hapoalim in 3 Months

A compromise is taking shape over the composition of the top management at Hapoalim. The pact being thrashed out between Hapoalim's sole controlling shareholder, Shari Arison, and the Bank of Israel, will be brought before the bank's board today or tomorrow after weeks of tense negotiations and mutual excoriation.

The Bank of Israel wants the chairman Danny Dankner to go, and the bank to find a suitable CEO in the stead of outgoing chief Zvi Ziv, by using an executive search committee. Arison had staunchly defended Dankner. She also refused to set up a search committee, after the board approved the appointment of bank officer Zion Keinan on the very day that Ziv quit. That was the day before Hapoalim published its financial statement for the year 2008.

The compromise is for Dankner to leave in three months, rather than immediately. Ziv will be leaving in a week to a month, and Keinan will take over as acting CEO. Dankner insisted that Ziv leaves the bank first.

Meanwhile, while Keinan runs the bank, the search committee that Hapoalim and the central bank finally agreed on (three external directors, and three representatives of Arison) will start working. The panel is supposed to finish compiling its list of candidates by September.

The compromise reached between the central bank and Arison is based on her principle that it maintain the dignity of all the parties: Dankner wouldn't be tossed out of the bank from one day to the next, and in any case, that Ziv would be the first to go. The driving force behind Ziv's resignation was reportedly conflicts with Dankner.

Yesterday the Hapoalim board convened, but confined its discussion to the company's financial statement, due for publication this morning. At no point did the directors discuss the issue of Dankner's future at the bank. The Bank of Israel never explicitly stated its problems with Dankner, but noted management problems at the bank.