By Babjide Komolafe
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to conduct fresh final bids for the sale of Enterprise Bank.
Investigation revealed the apex bank doubted the integrity of the process that led to the outcome of the final bids submitted by the five shortlisted financial institutions last month.
It was gathered that some top CBN officials believe that the result of the final bids submitted by AMCON to the CBN Governor was interrupted to favour a particular local bank with strong ties with a former Governor of a South Eastern state.
This suspicion was aggravated when AMCON suddenly changed one of the rules for the sale of the Bank shortly after the final bids were submitted.
It was gathered that the result of the final bid submitted by AMCON was inconclusive, with attempt to focus on criteria that would influence the outcome in favour of the particular bank.
This, it was gathered, in addition to earlier changes, tantamount to changing the goalpost in the middle of the game, observed by the management of the apex bank, prompted the CBN Governor to order AMCON to conduct fresh final bids, based on some specific criteria that would be used to adjudge the bids submitted by the contesting institutions.
Investigations revealed that three banks are in top contention for Enterprise Bank. Two of them are local banks with head offices in Victoria Island, Lagos. One of the local banks, it was gathered, had been using its strong connections to the former Governor of a South East State to sway the outcome of the sale in its favour.
Investigation further revealed that the decision of the CBN rattled the board of the bank and this prompted the former governor to visit the CBN Headquarters last week Thursday to argue the case of the bank as the best for Enterprise Bank. AMCON commenced the sale of Enterprise Bank on September 22nd, 2013 last year when it formally invited interested buyers to express interests in acquiring its 100 per cent stake in the Bank.
The audited financial statement of the Enterprise Bank Group as at 31 December 2012, show that the Group’s Total Assets stood at N263.5 billion, Customer Deposits at N208.4 billion and Total Equity at N31.9 billion
The invitation by AMOCN prompted interests from some Nigerian banks namely Diamond Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank, Skye Bank, Heritage Bank Limited and other investment groups.
Others include investors like Taunus Holdings, Sahara Energy, Obat Oil and about 12 private equity firms backed by experienced bankers as well as financial and investment analysts.