Enterprise Bank Sale: Nigeria’s interest should be uppermost –Expert

Mr. Idowu says those jostling to buy Enterprise Bank might end up closing some of its branches and reducing staff

A World Bank consultant, Abayomi Idowu, on Wednesday advised against the sale of Enterprise Bank at the expense of Nigeria and its people.

Mr. Idowu, an economist, said if due diligence is not taken to select the best buyer; Nigeria’s interest could be jeopardised in the sale of the bank.

AMCON had on September 2, 2013, called for expression of interest in acquiring its 100 per cent stake in Enterprise Bank Limited, one of the three banks nationalised by the government in 2011.

Afribank, Spring Bank and Bank PHB were nationalised and subsequently recapitalised by AMCON in a move to save the financial institutions from going under.

The names of the affected banks were later changed to Mainstreet, Enterprise and Keystone banks, respectively.

But in July 2013, AMCON appointed Citigroup and Africa-focused investment bank, Vetiva Capital, to manage its divestment from Enterprise Bank.

Based on its 2012 Audited Accounts, Enterprise Bank has seven subsidiaries and 150 branches, with total assets of N263.5bn ($1.6bn) and total equity of N31.9bn ($195.3m), AMCON stated in its notice.

But Mr. Idowu advised AMCON and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to succumb to blackmail in the course of the transaction.

”We believe that organizations that require branch network should naturally be given an opportunity to acquire Enterprise Bank to enable them keep staff after the sale.

“This should not be another era of mud sliding as the welfare of the bank and the interest of the both the nation and the bank investors should be made paramount,” Mr. Idowu said.

He insisted that many banks that have expressed interest in Enterprise Bank would ultimately close down some of its branches after purchase.

Mr. Idowu noted that by closing down some branches of the bank, a lot of staff would be sacked, thus increasing the level of unemployment in the country.

“This is a situation that will add more to the unemployment the administration is currently battling with,” he said.

Some of the banks at the fore-front of acquiring Enterprise Bank are Diamond Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Limited, Standard Chartered Bank, Skye Bank.

Others include Fidelity Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc and investors like Taunus Holdings, Sahara Energy, Obat Oil and about 12 private equity firms.

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