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CBN Softpedals On Banks' Takeover, Meets Shareholders




  ... As Skye Bank Names Durosinmi-Etti As Akinfeminwa's Successor

There are indications that the initial plans of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to outrightly takeover the rescued commercial banks may have collapsed, as the apex bank intends to open discussions with key shareholders of the affected banks on the way out.


The affected banks are Oceanic, Intercontinental, Union, PHB, Afribank, Finbank and Spring.


Meanwhile, following the recent CBN policy directive stipulating a 10-year maximum tenure for banks' chief executives, the Board of Directors of Skye Bank has appointed Mr. Kehinde Durosinmi-Etti as successor to Mr. Akinsola Akinfemiwa, the out-going chief executive of the bank.


Akinfemiwa is one of those caught by the policy directive, having already spent 10 years as GMD/CEO of Legacy Prudent Bank and Skye Bank cumulatively.


The apex bank had planned to hand over the rescued banks to some preferred core local or foreign investors on a wholesale acquisition basis.


But sources close to the financial advisers appointed by CBN to re-examine the policy hinted The Guardian at the weekend that the initially preferred investors had been foot-dragging on the Expression Of Interest (EOI) since September last year when CBN approached them, a development that might have forced the apex bank to throw it open by appointing the advisers late last year and mandating them to scout for investors.


The advisers are Deutsche Bank, StanbicIBTC, and Chapelhill & Denham.


They had returned to the CBN with an avalanche of problems militating against positive response from hundreds of investor-call letters already sent out.


The major problem cited was inadequate legal backing for any such acquisition and safety of the investments, against the background of the legal controversy surrounding CBN's intervention in the affected banks.


This development may have made the CBN hold back on its plan to publish last month the guideline on acquisition of the banks, as its governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had promised late last year.


Close observers of the new developments say this may have necessitated the use of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other agencies to force the original owners of the banks to back down on their tough stance against a forceful takeover of their bank by either the CBN or any investor appointed by it.


It was generally believed that due process was not followed in the intervention, which raised legal roadblock against new investor confidence.


However, sources close to the apex bank hinted that the CBN has initiated dialogue with the original owners of the banks to find a common ground for a resolution of the seeming logjam.


A meeting with some of the directors was held two weeks ago in Abuja, but no immediate agreement was reached. The most problematic among the banks are Intercontinental and Oceanic.


But it was also learnt that the apex bank is holding some other options close to its chest in the event that the owners refuse to toe its line.


The most likely options, according to insiders, are either liquidation or nationalization. But it is believed that liquidation would be more favoured, since public opinion has consistently been against nationalisation.


However, even the liquidation option was also said to be ''toxic,' since it will lead to some other serious consequences for the entire economy.


It was gathered that a third option- recapitalisation by the owners- have also run into serious problem, as the owners are now arguing that CBN's intervention has worsened the financial health of their banks, making recapitalisation a near impossibility, a situation that also made acquisition a difficult option even without legal huddles.


CBN is believed to be back to the drawing board on other options to save the situation.


Durosinmi-Etti will assume office on August 1, 2010. A seasoned banker with many years of cognate banking experience, he started his banking career in 1987 and rose to become the managing director of legacy EIB.


He is currently the Deputy Managing Director of the bank, a position he has held since January 2006, when Skye Bank began operations.


The Board also approved the appointment of Timothy Oguntayo as Deputy Managing Director designate. Oguntayo is presently an Executive Director in the bank, and has over 28 years of banking experience spanning Corporate Finance, Credit and Risk Management, Corporate Banking, Investment Banking, Project finance and commercial banking.



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