IEC chief resigns over planned electric company reform

Uri Ben-Noon: The government at the end of the day did not accept my proposal and passed a new law, which I believe is not feasible.

Uri Ben Noon 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Uri Ben Noon 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Uri Ben-Noon, president and CEO of the Israel Electric Corporation, resigned on Thursday following months of disagreements with the government and the company's board of directors over the planned reform of the electricity company. "I took up one of the most difficult positions in the economy, and about 10 months ago I succeeded to get the Finance Ministry's and the labor union's approval for a change in the structure of the IEC but the government at the end of the day did not accept my proposal and passed a new law, which I believe is not feasible," Ben-Noon wrote in a personal statement on his departure. "Since the board of directors supports the government's reform decision, it is important to appoint a CEO, who believes in the feasibility of the reform law." Ben-Noon, who served as CEO since February 2006 added that he considered turning in his resignation last year but decided to remain in place as the chairman of the company had just resigned and the company could not be without both its chairman and CEO. "With the chairman now in place for some months, while at the same time no progress has been made in the restructuring of the company, I do not see any room for continuing my tenure," he said. Ben-Noon's resignation came just a day after the IEC board of directors meeting on Wednesday, where bonuses and management performance were discussed. IEC declined to comment on the content of the meeting but said that during this period the board of directors would routinely discuss bonuses. "It seems very unlikely that the issue of bonuses would be the cause for Ben-Noon's decision to leave, as he is a wealthy man," said one individual familiar with the situation. "Since Ben-Noon took the helm at the IEC, there have been ups and downs including disagreements with the board and threats by ministers calling for his resignation." The management of the IEC has come under severe scrutiny several times when Ben-Noon was in place, for example over the failure of handling blackouts, in particular by the Minister of National Infrastructures Binyamin Ben-Eliezer who a number of times threatened to fire Ben-Noon. Following the announcement of the resignation, the directorate of the IEC asked Ben-Noon to remain in place until a successor is found. In addition, the directorate appointed a committee to select potential candidates for the position who will need to be approved by the board of directors. On the committee are IEC chairman Moti Friedman and board members Shlomit Barnea-Fargo, Moshe Gabish, Pnina Dvorin and Oded Koritshoner.