Bank of Queensland chairman Patrick Allaway says the board removed former chief executive George Frazis with immediate effect because he was not the right person to lead the bank during its next phase and to avoid him being a lame duck CEO, as it seeks to put less emphasis on growth.
BOQ shares fell sharply on Monday after the bank announced the surprise exit of Frazis, a former senior Westpac executive who has led the regional lender for three years.
Allaway, who will become executive chairman until a new CEO is found, said the board had decided a change in leadership was needed as it looked to “sightly pivot the strategy” towards strengthening the bank, while slowing its growth amid a more uncertain environment.
He said there was no particular issue that triggered the decision to remove Frazis, there was “no financial issue”, and the former CEO was not being terminated “for cause”.
Rather, he said that after considering the bank’s change in focus for a few weeks, the board had reached the view on Sunday that BOQ needed a change in leadership capability.
“George has many skills, but we didn’t think he was the right person to lead this change. And we are coming into a more challenging trading environment, and we felt it was appropriate, on balancing all those views, to do it now,” Allaway said.
“Once a board forms a view about different skills being required, that George wasn’t the right person to take us forward with this new chapter, we didn’t want him as a lame duck CEO while we ran a search, and we thought it was best for me to step in as an executive chair to get on with this and not put George in a position where it would be very difficult for him.”
Frazis, who did not comment on Monday, was announced as BOQ’s chief in mid-2019, when Allaway was chairman-elect. At its results last month, BOQ beat market expectations, and reported its integration with ME Bank, which it bought last year, was ahead of schedule.
Allaway stood by his decision to hire Frazis and praised his contribution to the bank’s growth, including the ME Bank takeover.