WEDNESDAY, 21 JULY 2010 BY MOSES EBOSELE AND HELEN OJI BUSINESS
Indications emerged in Lagos yesterday (Tuesday) that some foreign and local investors were bracing up to acquire stake in Unity Bank Plc.The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently extended the recapitalisation deadline it gave Unity Bank and Wema Bank by three months.
The Managing Director of the bank, Mallam Falalu Bello, explained yesterday after presenting the bank’s “facts behind the figures” at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, that the foreign investors from Iran were in the country recently to hold discussions with Unity Bank.Falalu also explained at an interactive session that the bank has made total debt recovery of about N53 billion.
The bank is currently offering 23.9 billion ordinary shares by way of rights issue to the existing shareholders on the basis of three new shares for every two previously held.He said the banks is at an advance stage of discussion with the two foreign banks interested in buying stakes in the financial institution.Explaining further, he said “We are looking at institutional investors or a group of individuals who may invest into the bank. We are talking with two foreign banks already.
“Recently, the Governor of Central Bank of Iran came to my office and said that there are some Iranian banks that want to invest in Nigerian banks. If they come and we agree with them. All we are after is to get somebody who will come into the bank and add value to it,” he said.He added that proceed of the offer would enable the bank to meet up with the minimum capital adequacy ratio for banks and ensure long-term sustainability of its current operation.
Falalu added that the bank in its branch network expansion drive and dilution of public sector shareholding from the current level of 70 per cent to 25 per cent.He said the bank presently has a network of 222 branches nationwide, adding that plans are under way for more expansion.
On the future outlook of the bank, Bello said the bank hopes to maintain its all round improvement in operational efficiency.“We will continue to leverage on our robust technology platform to roll out new products and services in line with our customers needs. We will remain poised to exploit opportunities for exceptional income to support profitability,” he said.