By PETER EGWUATU
Shareholders of First Bank of Nigeria Plc, yesterday, approved the holding company (HoldCo) structure for the bank, just as they expressed excitement over the benefits they would derive from the new structure.
The shareholders equally advised the Board of First Bank to ensure that its subsidiary, First Registrar Limited is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
Speaking at the Court Ordered Meeting, on Monday, Group Managing Director/CEO, First Bank Nigeria Plc, Mr. Bisi Onasanya, said, “ In line with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s regulations, which require the separation of commercial banking business from other financial services businesses, First Bank is adopting a HoldCo structure.”
He expressed satisfaction over the approval by shareholders for the holding company, while assuring them that the bank will not embark on any share reconstruction as the same number of shares they have with the bank will be maintained.
According to him, under the new structure, existing shareholders of First Bank would be migrated to FBN Holdings via a share-for-share exchange between the shareholders of First Bank and FBN Holdings.
Also, First Bank’s shareholdings in each of the HoldCo subsidiaries and the associated investments will be transferred to FBN Holdings while First Bank’s shareholdings in each of the Investment Banking & Asset Management (IBAM) subsidiaries will be transferred to FBN Capital Limited, which in turn will be owned by FBN Holdings.
While explaining the benefits of the HoldCo structure, Onasanya, noted that the overall strategy was to create an operating model that would profitably grow the bank’s presence in the market for commercial banking and non-banking financial services in order to achieve the aspiration to be the dominant financial services group in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, said , “ Shareholders are excited because the arrangement the bank has put in place is devoid of complexities usually known as share reconstruction.
“We are excited about the development because we are going to get value as everything we have would be transferred to the holding company. There will be no manipulation as a result reconstruction that usually leads to fractional shares.”
In the same vein, Chairman, Proactive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PROSAN), Mr. Oderinde Taiwo, said, “The arrangement where all existing shares of First Bank would be transferred entirely to the Holdco in the name of the beneficial owners is good, while the same number of units and percentage would be held in the new entity, is commendable. But what we are not sure of its arrangement is the First Registrar. We would like to partake in the ownership of First Registrar because it had performed well in its function and contributed to the bottom line of the bank.”
Mr. Boniface Okezie, who also spoke the mind of shareholders said, “The Board of First Bank should ensure that shareholders are not shortchanged and should be carried along, otherwise, we resist every attempt in the court We would like First Registrar to be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) because the company had performed excellently well .