By Peter Egwuatu
The IndependentÂ Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), yesterday, stepped into the controversy between the Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE ) over the listing of Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) shares on the Exchange, accusing the apex regulatory body of the capital market of insincerity.
President of the Association, Mr. Sunny Nwosu, in reports monitored on radio and television said that there is no way any firm would be listed on the stock market without the knowledge of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to him, â€œSEC approved the prospectus of Transcorp where Prof Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke was listed as chairman. It was also present at the Completion Board Meeting. So how can they now claim not to have been notified? Somebody is not being sincere.â€
Following publication of the list of debtors to the five troubled banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria in which Transcorp was mentioned as owing N37billion, SEC on August 19 queried the NSE director general by asking the Onyiuke to explain the circumstances surrounding the listing of the company of which she is chairman, given the â€œsensitive natureâ€ of her position as head of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Prof Okereke-Onyiuke is said to have replied that she had observed due process and done nothing wrong in accepting a national assignment from the then Federal Government to chair the firm, meant to serve as Nigeriaâ€™s equivalent of the big Asian conglomerates with influence across many countries
Okereke-Onyiuke also stated that her employers, the Council of The Nigerian Stock Exchange gave consent to her taking on the assignment while SEC was notified.
Speaking on behalf of SEC ,as containedÂ in newspaper reports yesterday. Mr. Lanre Oloyi, head of Media, claimed that SEC was not notified before Okereke-Onyiuke took on the job of Transcorp chairman.
However, Nwosu said, â€œ This is far from the reality as the rules of the capital market require companies to submit their prospectuses to SEC and for the body to attend the final pre-offer meeting of the approved companies, Nwosu said it is puzzling that SEC would claim not to be aware of the position of Okereke-Onyiuke as chairman.
He noted further that even as recently as February 2009, SEC was also present as the regulator at the Extra Ordinary General Meeting of Transcorp Plc where shareholders agreed to sell Transcorpâ€™s 51% stake in NITEL/MTEL.
The ISAN also learnt that the exchange between the two regulatory bodies has attracted the intervention of the Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola, who hasÂ directed both organisations to meet and resolve their differences. The meeting should hold on Friday, August 28, 2009.
Transcorp maintains that its inability to clear the outstanding balance on the US$500million loan it used to acquire 51% stake in NITEL/MTEL in 2006 was due to â€œcontinued political undertones from NITELâ€™s co-ownerâ€. In a widely publicised statement, the company said, â€˜Transcorp was not allowed to take control of NITEL/MTEL until June 2008, these being the only laggards in the portfolio of Transcorp. This situation meant that Transcorp could not generate income needed to offset the outstanding liabilities; neither could it take bold decisions necessary to put the company on a sound financial footing.â€ The company said it â€œparty repaidâ€ N19billion of the loan from the N22billion realised from its Initial Public Offering.