February 15, 2012/ By Obinna Chima
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has said it will begin the process of selling the three nationalised banks - Mainstreet Bank Limited, Keystone Bank Limited and Enterprise Bank Limited - before the end of this month.
AMCON’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mustafa Chike-Obi, said this at the sidelines of a bankers’ committee meeting in Lagos yesterday.
He said to put the process in motion, the corporation would this month place an advertisement that would guide the public and interested investors on how the banks would be sold.
He said when kick-started, the process would have a gestation period of 12 to 18 months.
“The process of selling the nationalised banks will start this month. We are going to put out advertisement on how to sell the nationalised banks. We would ensure the process is transparent and runs its course, but the process would take about 12 to 18 months.
“It is a level playing field, everybody, both local and foreign investors, will have a chance to invest, but the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will have to approve the investors,” he stated.
Chike-Obi also disclosed that N600 billion bad debts had been recovered from debtors. According to the AMCON boss, N100 billion had been recovered by the corporation this year. AMCON had previously put the total value of bad debts at N3.14 trillion.
“We are recovering the debts at a faster rate as expected and our target is to recover N1 trillion this year. About another N2 trillion in debts will be pending to be recovered. Every debtor must pay what they owe,” he said.
Responding to enquiries on how much of the recovered debt had been invested in the capital market, he explained: “We have an investment policy in AMCON and we try to invest the money in such a manner that we will get the best return and at no cost to the government. We invest in so many things.”
Following the withdrawal of the banking licences of the defunct Afribank (now Mainstreet), Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank) and Spring Bank (now Enterprise Bank), the CBN sold the three bridge banks that were created in the process to AMCON, through a subscription agreement.
Chike-Obi had informed THISDAY in an interview last August that about 16 investors – international and local - had expressed interest in the three banks.
Earlier, the CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who was with the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Mobolaji Johnson, revealed that the minister had made a presentation to the bank chief executives on how to use digital technology to achieve financial inclusion.
Sanusi said: “We are looking at how we can use our telecommunications roll out to get access to the rural people and how we can use that to give them financial inclusion and development.
“You can use telephones for things like maternal healthcare, agriculture and purchase of fertilisers, and change the lives of people by addressing poverty.”
The CBN governor insisted that the new cash-lite policy had been effective under the pilot phase in Lagos State.
“You were in Lagos during the ‘Occupy Nigeria’ protest for the whole week, did you see anybody complain about cash? For seven days, the banks were closed, nobody complained about cash.
“Throughout those demonstrations in Lagos, the ATMs were flush with cash, the Point of Sale (PoS) terminals were working. It was fantastic! Nobody complained.”
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, described the cash-lite policy as a serious venture for banks.
He said the challenge(s) that bank customers might face with the policy would soon be tackled, even as he cited the case of mobile phone operations.
Also speaking, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Mrs. Bola Adesola, said a sub-committee on women empowerment had been set up.
She said the committee, which was inaugurated yesterday, would ensure that female business owners are well supported.
On his part, CEO, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Mr. Philip Oduoza, provided clarification on why the communications technology minister attended the meeting, explaining that that was in order to see how her ministry could collaborate with the banks on broadband access.
“We looked at her presentation and saw a lot of synergy on both ends. Finance is required to support her initiatives towards building a robust ICT system, especially as the country is migrating from analogue to digital technology by 2015,” the UBA boss added.