(Adds LIA chairman quotes)
By Ali Shuaib and Marie-Louise Gumuchian
TRIPOLI Feb 28 The head of Libya's sovereign
wealth fund said he would remain in his post and contest the
government's decision to replace him because of poor
The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) was set up in 2006 to
manage Libya's oil dollars. It has assets of around $60 billion,
mixed between shares, bonds, other financial products and
holdings in subsidiaries.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Prime Minister
Ali Zeidan said deputy central bank governor Ali Mohammed Salem
Hebri would temporarily take charge of the LIA until a permanent
replacement for current head Mohsen Derregia was found.
"The head of the LIA will be changed. This is the
government's policy. Whoever cannot do their job properly will
be replaced," Zeidan said. "Up until now (Derregia) has declined
to step down but he needs to do that."
In an exchange that highlights the central government's
struggle to impose its authority in the new Libya since the 2011
war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, Derregia told Reuters he did
not understand the decision and could not leave his post.
"I believe the decision is not lawful, it will be contested
on those grounds," Derregia said, adding he was taking the
matter "before a court of law".
He said he received a letter informing him about his
dismissal and another letter shortly afterwards saying a
committee had been formed to handle a handover.
"Nobody came asking to organise a transition or handover or
speak to me about my terms, my rights or anything like that. It
was basically a sacking from the Gaddafi book."
Derregia, who said the last time he met Zeidan he told him
about LIA's moves to deal with some losses in financial products
globally, said he would continue going to his office for now as
the fund was currently restructuring.
"I cannot leave this in a vacuum - they have to organise a
transition even if they insist on that decision," he said.
Zeidan said Derregia was told earlier this week he needed to
step down. He said senior LIA officials would meet in coming
days to appoint a permanent replacement. Derregia was appointed
LIA chairman in April. His contract was for two years.
The LIA's assets were temporarily frozen during the 2011
war, and the new management has sought their release. The LIA
has stakes in Italian bank Unicredit as well as oil
and gas group Eni.
Separately on Thursday, LIA said in a statement it was
taking legal advice over losses on structured products managed
by Goldman Sachs.
Zeidan told reporters he had a met a team from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Libya would seek the IMF's
advice on its budget as well as domestic and foreign investment.
(Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, editing by Elaine