Thursday, December 9

Reports of Otedola takeover untrue – First Bank

First Bank of Nigeria has denied claims by some online media on Friday that a Nigerian business mogul, Femi Otedola has acquired majority stake in the bank.

But in a statement obtained by a source from the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) and signed by the FBN Holdings secretary, Seye Kosoko the bank is yet to receive any notification from the individual mentioned on such acquisition.

The bank noted that it operates in a regulated environment which required notifications of significant shareholding by shareholders to the company where shares are held in different vehicles.

Adding that the bank will always notify the appropriate agencies and authorities whenever it receives any notice of significant shareholding by the shareholder and the company registrars.

“The attention of FBN Holdings Plc has been drawned to media reports purporting that a certain individual has acquired significant shareholding interest in FBN Holding Plc, therefore making him the majority shareholder in the company.

“As a listed company, the shares of FBN Holding Plc are publicly traded and sale and acquisition of shares is expected in the normal course of business.

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“We operate in a regulated environment which required notifications of significant shareholding by shareholders to the company where shares are held in different vehicles, further to which the company will notify the regulators and public as appropriate,” it added.

There are online reports that a billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, is coming back into the capital market on a big scale a few years after he offloaded his 75 per cent stake in Forte oil which later became Ardova Plc under its new owners.

The report stated that the business mogul has allegedly acquired majority stake in FBN Holdings, which also recently had a board crisis, to take over the company.

According to reports, Otedola, is now the single majority shareholder of the first generation lender in Nigeria with the acquisition of N30 billion worth of the bank’s equities at the NGX.

In recent times, there has been an upward movement in the share price of FBN Holdings at the stock market and this has raised many eyebrows as some investors were asking what was driving the hike.

Some months ago, many were shocked when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sacked the boards of First Bank Nigeria Limited and its holding company, FBN Holdco, citing insider abuse and corporate governance breakdown as reasons.

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The apex bank also set up interim boards, reinstalling the ousted Managing Director/ Chief Executive, Dr. Sola Adeduntan. The interim board chairman of the bank, according to CBN, will be Tunde Hassan-Odukale.

Other members of the bank subsidiary are Tokunbo Martins, Uche Nwokedi, Adekunle Sonola, Isioma Ogodazi, Ebenezer Olufowose, Ishaya Elijah Dodo, Gbenga Shobo, Remi Oni and Abdullahi Ibrahim.

The board of the holding company is chaired by Remi Babalola while the managing director is U.K. Eke. Other members are Dr. Fatade Abiodun Oluwole, Kofo Dosekun, Remi Lasaki, Dr. Alimi Abdulrasaq, Ahmed Modibbo, Khalifa Imam and Peter Aliogo.

The change was the climax after hours of horse-trading and corporate war over the appointment of a new managing director. The board of directors of First Bank within the period announced the appointment of Gbenga Shobo as its Managing Director/Chief Executive. Shobo was to replace Adeduntan, who was appointed in 2016.

Following the appointment, the CBN made futile efforts to compel the board to reverse its decision and reinstate the ousted chief executive. The apex bank issued a query to the board when it failed to heed its advice.

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CBN said the board’s move had a dire consequence for the bank and “portends significant risks to the stability of the financial system” in the query letter.

“The CBN notes with concern that the action was taken without due consultation with the regulatory authorities, especially given the systemic importance of First Bank Ltd.

“The CBN was not made aware of any report from the board indicting the Managing Director of any wrong-doing or misconduct; there appears to be no apparent justification for the precipitate removal.

“We are particularly concerned because the action is coming at a time the CBN has provided various regulatory forbearances and liquidity support to reposition the bank, which has enhanced its asset quality, capital adequacy and liquidity ratios amongst other prudential indicators,” the regulator said.

(The Guardian)

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