By Babajide Komolafe
LAGOS â€” THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has spelt out the guidelines for investment in any of the 10 troubled banks.
Governor of the bank, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, speaking at during a visit to Vanguard Newspapers, in Lagos, yesterday said that the apex bank would not be involved in the recapitalisation of the troubled banks, adding, â€œweÂ have developed guidelines for the exercise. The banks themselves will handle it and they would work with their advisers.â€
The ten troubled banks which failed the CBN audit are: Intercontinental Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, Afribank Plc and Finbank Plc.
Others are: Bank PHB Plc, Spring Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc, Equitorial Trust Bank Limited and Unity Bank Plc.
According to Sanusi, â€œmy own preference is that I would prefer a strong Nigerian institution that would acquire these banks. In the event of a foreign bank coming in, I would prefer a bank that is willing to share ownership with Nigerians, not a bank that wants 100 per cent.
I would prefer those that have already shown interest and commitment prior to now, to one that is just trying to come in now. If it is possible, if they are more than one foreign bank, I would like to see diversification, to ensure that they are not coming from one geographical region, these are the broad guidelines that are given.
â€œI have made it very clear that we want an institution, we are not just looking for money, because we can raise the money. People can raise money from various means, like through money laundering â€” people who have stolen money and have gone to hide it and now want to use it to buy shares, money can be raised by anybody.
â€œWhat we want are people who are not just bringing in money alone, butÂ who are bringing in corporate governance, structure and the ability to run the bank and to manage it.
â€œThe biggest banks in Nigeria will for a very long time, certainly, remain in the hands of Nigerians.
â€œAll this noise being made by people about foreign acquisition, how many foreign banks have the money today to acquire a Nigerian bank? The world is experiencing an economic meltdown.
â€œIf I am in a position where I want to attract certain institutions, why would I want to close a door before it is opened? Open it up; let us see how many people are interested in these banks. At that spot where you think you are spoilt for choice, then you can start allocating.
â€œThere is no need then announcing upfront that you do not want foreigners. What would happen, if foreigners donâ€™t come and there is no capital in Nigeria, are you willing to have the government nationalise these banks?
â€œThe Minister of Finance said if money did not come in, we will have to convert our money to shares, they now said the Minister said that the governmentÂ wantsÂ to nationalise the banks.
â€œWe have issued guidelines on how things should be and we are going to allow these banks talk to their advisers.
â€œHowever, we have a very good idea on how we want the industry to look like. We are not going to allow a bank, for instance, to be more than 20 per cent of the market. And I need to say this upfront, so, if a First Bank or a United Bank Africa or Zenith Bank want to acquire Union Bank, we will not agree.
â€œWe cannot have a bank at 25 or 30 per cent of the market share. We have an idea of what kind of institutions we want to come in, we have an idea of what kind of structures we want to see put in place, we also think we need a healthy mix of local and foreign banks.
At the end of the day, we think all of these things will begin to unfold, but these things are clearly thought out and the national interest is paramount,â€ he said.