AMCON plans to sell Keystone Bank to ‘powerful northern group’, officials say

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Some senior officials of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria are voicing strong opposition to the planned sale of Keystone Bank Ltd., PREMIUM TIMES can report.

The disquiet comes as the state-owned asset management company is set to announce new owners for the bank, which is the last of the three nationalised financial institutions yet to be sold, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

The disturbed officials say Ahmed Kuru, the chairman of AMCON, has concluded plans to hand over Keystone to a coalition of powerful Northern interests, disregarding extant takeover provisions of AMCON in the process.

Barring any last minute changes, a firm linked to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Umar Modibbo, MD/CEO of Sigma Pensions Limited, may emerge the new owner of Keystone Bank with its nearly 160 branches, PREMIUM TIMES understands.

The two influential Nigerians are allegedly being represented by the firm which our sources said did not participate in the bidding process, in a clear contradiction of basic public asset sale requirements.

Following a commercial placed for the bidding process by AMCON, 13 companies submitted their expression of interests. These did not include the firm which AMCON is now set to sell the bank to.

The deal could also see Nigerian taxpayers lose billions of naira if allowed to stand. This is because AMCON is reportedly in talks to sell the bank for about N25.1 billion, representing only a fraction of the approximately N200 billion that AMCON paid to purchase the bank’s bad debts in 2011.

This is despite the fact that some of the companies that participated in the bidding process offered more than the amount and had core banking expertise, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

The Keystone Bank, previously known as Bank PHB, was among the three banks nationalised by the CBN in 2011, after failing failed a stress test conducted by the apex bank.

The two others, Mainstreet and Enterprise Banks, had been handed over to other stronger banks in the industry by AMCON more than a year ago.

The delay in announcing new owners for Keystone, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, is not unconnected with the internal squabbles among the management of AMCON.

The members, who spoke strictly on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Kuru sidestepped laid down requirements for asset sale to ensure Keystone is ceded to his cronies.

“It is very clear that all caution was thrown to the wind as a result of a grand plan to disqualify very strong and reputable intended buyers in order to allow the cronies and business associates of the Managing Director take over the bank,” a senior AMCON official said.

Mr. Kuru was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2015, and the board members said the sale of Keystone could dent the administration’s much-avowed anti-corruption war.

The opinions being widely held across the country that the president has a sectional agenda will also be put to test by the outcome of the sale, a source said.

The concerned officials wondered why AMCON would sell a bank of Keystone’s magnitude to a firm that has no requisite expertise in banking and financial management.

“It is an open secret within the banking sector in Nigeria that the sale was arranged for this powerful northern group whose promoters do not have the required banking experience, thereby raising questions about the supposed independence of the international advisers of AMCON in the sale of Keystone,” one official said.

Mr. Modibbo could not be reached for comments.

The AMCON chairman, Mr. Kuru, was as at the time of publishing yet to respond to an email enquiry sent to him.

Mr. Atiku’s spokesperson, Paul Ibe, said he had no prior knowledge of his principal’s involvement in the controversial transaction, but still suggested that the opposition to his principal’s role by some AMCON officials might have been politically-motivated.

“I am not aware if his Excellency is interested or is involved in Keystone Bank. But even if he is, does that disqualify him? Is it because he’s a former Vice President and an APC chieftain? Hasn’t he run businesses successfully? Created jobs? Delivered dividends to shareholders? Paid taxes?

“Who are those internally? Who are the people? Is it politicians who are mischief makers hiding under the cover of internal people?” Mr. Ibe said.

When told that the sources are actually top officials of AMCON, Mr. Ibe said he would rather take the questions by email. An email forwarded to him was yet to be responded to as at the time of this report.


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  • Umar aliyu

    What is wrong with the bank being bought over by a Powerful northern interest? Who founded the bank in the first instance before it was taken over and messed up by so called whizkids. Who control the major banks in this country why is it there is nothing wrong in that inspite of the shoddy Way they are being managed?

  • Mamman

    PT, you said Enterprise Bank was sold to a larger bank? Which bank transmuted to HERITAGE BANK then? Did you people follow the processes that led to the sale of NITEL? A northern group went with a better offer but Jonathan sold it to a group from the south with a much lower bid. Nobody complained. After all, who first established the bank? That is HABIB NIG BANK? Was it not the same northerners & Abiola? Haba!!! Be fair to all. This yellow stripe doesn’t fit your profile at all

    • share Idea

      Please can you share a link where GEJ sold the Nitel to southern man with lower bid. We are talking about selling a bank to a company with northern interest in which the northerners did not participant in the bidding process.

      • sab

        Don’t mind Maman, he would always find a way to haul GEJ into everything. He forgot or pretended not to know that NITEL was not sold by GEJ but OBJ way back in 2001 when they started rolling out GSM services. He also forgot or pretended not to know that appointment of a CJN has a procedural norm which has now been bastardised and tribalised. I hope Maman and his likes are watching what is playing out in the new CJN appointment because what goes up must come down and that what goes around comes around. Only time heals open wound.

  • Naijawehail

    Typical sensationalism. What does “Northern interest” have to do with the story? All the Northern agenda plots buried in the article are simply to whip up sentiments for PT to get clicks. If there is something wrong with the procedure for sale, by all means report on it as that but not to provide more fodder for the growing media supported divisions in this country. Most were blaming Trump for playing on divisions within society but here in Nigeria our media houses are champions of that. At the end of the day all we have is Nigeria. My opinion, no insults please.

    • share Idea

      Did you not read that the chairman from the north is trying to sell the bank to northerners that did not involve in the bidding process. Does that section sounds to you like a national interest? Please learn to call a spade a spade.

      If this is the only time such a thing is happening under this administration, someone can give such person benefit of the doubt. Please look at appointment of this administration, look at the recent appointment of acting CJ for the first in nigerian history.

  • .RAPE on The Niger DELTA

    There is massive poverty in the Niger Delta. There is nothing to show for the wealth of the region as monies from the region are used to develop Abuja and the rest of the country. The only benefit the oil producing and resource owners – Biafra and Niger Delta regions benefit from Nigeria are :
    – Pollution
    – Neglect
    – Violence
    – Military Occupation
    – Wanton arrest of its citizens
    – Harassment
    – Sponsored propaganda to defame
    – Bypass in political appointments
    – Hate, hate and more hate
    – Etc etc, etc

    …yet, the parasitic regions (Vultures) that feast on the resources of the Niger Delta want it to remain part of Nigeria even as they care not about the many artificial problems that oil exploration has brought to the people –Health issues / Diseases arising from toxic pollutants. Buhari never borrowed to clean up the Niger Delta or rehabilitate the displaced farmers and fishermen. But he borrows to resettle those reportedly displaced by Islamic terrorists – a people (Terrorists) he claims must not be killed.

    SECESSION is the only way for the Niger Delta and Biafran regions if they must achieve their potentials. Buhari can remain president of the rest of Nigeria and those of us who do not want to be associated with Nigeria in any way should be left alone to live our dreams and fly to our destination – have our own country. And this is what we must do. May God be with our freedom fighting comrades – the AVENGERS.

  • PARASITES_in_Power

    Fela told us in his songs; “Na arrangee Government we dey” ………………………It holds true even today. The systemic cornering of the assets of the other regions of Nigeria. Desperate to control the financial institutions which they lack the Human Resources and brains to match the rest of the country, they chose to scheme, intimidate and acquire by hook or crook. It is Atiku again, the billionaire civil servant – with a license to steal. Now they have cornered a Niger Delta Igbo man – Fidelis Atuchie of Asaba and stolen his lifetime investment. The same thing they did to Jim Nwobodo’s Savannah Bank and exactly what they did with Ibru’s Oceanic Bank. The North perfect’s these crimes with their Oluwole brothers from the West of Nigeria – a crime of convenience as one thing binds them eternally – PARASITISM! Unquenchable desire to reap where others sowed. The hottest parts of hell awaits all who are directly or indirectly involved in these RAPE scheme.

  • kayode Olufade

    Another hard allegation. AMCON should be transparent in its dealings to reassure Nigerians they are following the right procedure. What happened to intercontinental bank PLC shouldnt be allowed to happen again.

  • Tonye

    This kind of sectional n divisive journalism is dragging the country backward. Lazy journalism. Who are the Managemwnt of AMCON in disagreement?
    Where were you when AMCON under Chike Obi sold Manistreet and Enterprise Banks to one and the same person from the South?
    Was Tunde Ayeni not the Chairman of Skye Bsnk and the Promoter of Heritage Bank?
    Have you investigated how many companies bidded for Keystone?
    Did they pay or even ready to pay?
    Do you still want Govt to put more money in this Bank so that you can criticise them again?
    This your lazy and divisive journalism is not what we want to move the country foward .
    If Sigma pays for the Bank and employs Season Bankers to manage it what is bad in that?
    Please engage your company meaningfully to promote a viable and viral Nigeria.
    Thank you

    • DTaj

      This is the best and most objective response so far on this thread!
      As a banker of 20 years standing, I align with your valid points.
      As much as I respect Premium Times, this is irresponsible journalism at its best (hiding under “reliable sources”, “members of AMCON management”)! The 3 prominent Executive Directors of AMCON (including the MD)- Ahmed Kuru, Kola Ayeye, and Aminu Ismail, are well-experienced and thorough-bred bankers with integrity.
      This story is pure fantasy!

  • Dominic Stella

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  • muazu wali

    Let us know the owners of other banks before crying fail! Even in financial business we need to reflect federal character.

    • share Idea

      Really!!! But your type refused federal character is distribution of states nor distribution of oil wells. Nigeria we hail thee

      • muazu wali

        The issue of oil is a different problem. I will support a delibrate FG policy to allocate oil blocks to people from Niger Delta. As it is now northerners appear to have virtual ponopoly of a source of money which does not belong to them. To me this is a better demand than increasing the percentage of derivation or separation and blowing oil pipes.

  • Abdullah Musa

    The phrase: powerful northern group says it all!
    If it is a southern group then it means due process has been followed.
    Why not let the companies that participated in the bidding do the complaining?
    So if other members of AMCON have their preferred candidates, why not the Managing Director, is it because he is a northerner?

  • O’ Jose

    Donald Trump blasts President Buhari as a tragedy

    “No sensible president continuously travels round the globe while his
    country, Nigeria, is in terrible hardship and economic mess. It can only happen
    in Nigeria where all that matters to the President (Buhari) is the full introduction of
    Islam, annihilation of his political opponents and the absolute extermination of
    the people of [Igbo] the old eastern Nigeria. Buhari, prior to his questionable
    victory at the polls as the president of Nigeria, made lots of promises which he
    has obviously failed to keep and in most cases denied.”

    ………….Donald Trump

    (President-elect of U.S.A)

    • ACTION MAN

      This does not sound like a Donald Trump! There is a reward for lying tongues!

    • Trutherman

      Donald Trump has no time to comment on the Republic of Baboons called Nigeria.

      • oooXEE333

        You guys need to broaden your knowledge. President Trump’s expressed opinion on BUHARI

        is mild compared to his opinion of President Museveni of Uganda whom he said could be arrested.

    • Whalerolex

      I do not trust these mentally lazy social media loving Nigerians. They sit down and type some rubbish then start sending via WhatsApp and other mediums. Other people like them then start sending/broadcasting without confirming the story. @O’Jose I hope you confirmed this story….

      • muazu wali

        All sensible and responsible Nigerians feel that the story was fabricated. Let them write. They belong to those who do not mean well for the country.

    • Allen

      This O Jose’s Donald Trump sounds so much like an Igbo indigene.

  • Akinmade Olusina

    @abdullahmusa:disqus

    Within 60 days of taking office as a newly elected president, Muhamadu Buhari headed for the vaults
    and took out a whopping one billion Naira. Buhari then put the one billion Naira into the pocket of his
    crony, Brigadier Muhamed Buba Marwa. That was last year July, when President Buhari ran one-man
    government without appointing any Minister. Buhari was the sole approving authority for the entire
    federal government of Nigeria.

    It wasn’t until the Senate began looking into budget performance results this year that Senate uncovered
    this inexplicable and dubious taking of one billion Naira from the treasury at a time when over 22 states
    in the federation couldn’t pay 7 to 8 months’ salaries to civil servants. If therefore morning shows the day,
    this one billion Naira saga is enough tell-tale sign that President Buhari’s own priority is predominantly
    personal; nepotistic, tribal, Islamist and regional.

    • Cry Nigeria

      WHERE NOW IS MUHAMADU BUHARI’s DEVELOPMENT PLAN AFTER 17 MONTHS?

      THERE IS NO PLAN WHATSOEVER IN SIGHT AND NO DRAFT OF SENSIBLE PLAN.

      NIGERIA HAS ENTERED A ONE-CHANCE BUS DRIVEN BY AN INCOMPETENT FULANI.

    • haba mallam

      you’re such a liar that you even lied about your name.

  • Paul zadok

    This is sponsored by bad lookers who think banking business is their birth right. Atiku is not part of this. Am not an atiku apologist please.

  • haba mallam

    so what? does he has to sell it to a powerful south eastern group before it can be considered fair? PM is full of bullshit

  • haba mallam

    “Powerful Northern group” yes we are very powerful indeed

  • thusspokez

    Some senior officials of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria are voicing strong opposition to the planned sale of Keystone Bank Ltd., PREMIUM TIMES can report.

    One would notice that very few of these looters ever start a fresh business. They buy ready-made ones because they lack the wherewithal to start a new business — in fact they wouldn’t have any clue if they try. And even when they do, the business ends up being used mainly for money laundering and as recipient of dodgy government contracts.

  • Baba Jada

    Even though this claim is false but so what if Atiku is buying keystone? at least he is very competent when it comes to running a businesses and making profit

  • blueeyedkitten

    i wouldnt be surprised if this paper goes comatose in not distant future. they’re getting less and less objective by the day.

    • muazu wali

      Do not be deceived. Their stories are adverts sponsored by powerful PDP stalwarts. The game is very clear.

  • Otile

    Ahmadu Bello lives on, under Buhari Northernization goes on as planned.