By  Amaka Agwuegbo
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Lamido Sanusi, has said that the apex bank will avoid any “shotgun” sale of rescued lenders and may take the rest of the year to complete deals with prospective international buyers.


Speaking in an interview, Governor Sanusi said “The process may take until the end of the year, so it is not a shotgun marriage as these things happen as they come.”

It would be recalled that the CBN, under the governorship of Sanusi, injected at least N620bn into 10 banks after bad loans made to stock speculators caused toxic assets to soar as much as $10 billion, according to estimates by New York-based research firm Eurasia Group.

Sanusi said in October the CBN will invite foreign institutions to take stakes in the 10 lenders and will limit domestic firms to a 20 per cent stake. The CBN also extended a guarantee on interbank borrowing until the end of this year.

South Africa’s financial companies have led the approach from foreign buyers. Standard Bank Group Ltd., FirstRand Ltd. and Old Mutual Plc said in January they were interested in buying stakes in the lenders.

The CBN aims to conclude some of the sales by April or May, Sanusi said. According to Sanusi, the intervention in the country’s banking industry is restoring confidence.

“If banks are stable and making good profit, their stocks will go up. The quality of information on the bailed-out institutions has been improved by their new management, and those interested in buying them will be given access to data.”

The 10 banks, which all failed a CBN audit, will need to repay their loans through a proposed new government agency known as the Asset Management Company, according to a bill going before lawmakers.

“By all indications, we will get approval for the bill this February,” Sanusi said. “As soon as we have the AMC bill, we will proceed to deal with the toxic assets and we expect all other banks to pay through the AMC.”

The rescued banks are Afribank Nigeria Plc, Finbank Plc, Intercontinental Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, Union Bank Nigeria Plc, Bank PHB Plc, Spring Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc and Equatorial Trust Bank Plc. Equatorial has repaid its N30bn loan, Sanusi said.

Sanusi said the apex bank plans to introduce rules restricting lenders from investing depositors’ funds in non-banking operations including private equity.“We have to look at the total operation of the banks.”


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