By Babajide Komolafe & Peter Egwuatu
The much acclaimed $1 billion Milost Global Inc acquisition deal with Unity Bank Plc is now up in flames as the New York based private equity firm formally terminated the deal yesterday in a controversial circumstance.
Unity Bank last week issued a statement debunking a Bloomberg report of a $1 billion, 30 percent shareholding deal between the two organisations.
However, in a statement announcing its termination of the deal, Milost Global described the Unity Bank statement as false, confirming it had indeed entered into a binding agreement for a $1 billion financing deal, that would lead to its acquisition of 60 percent shareholding in the bank as well as delisting of Unity Bank from the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE).
In a message to Vanguard yesterday Milost stated: “On September 4, 2017 a $1 billion financing term sheet was fully executed by both Milost and Unity Bank. The facility, a combo of equity and debt, was provided on the exciting understanding that Unity Bank would delist on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and move its listing to the USA. The signed term sheet was approved by the board of Unity Bank.”
Milost Global however attributed its decision to terminate the deal to ‘negative media publicity’ and ‘blackmail’.
But Kim Freeman, Managing Partner & CEO of Milost, in the statement, said: “Milost will continue to do business in Nigeria despite any negative publicity and this will ultimately benefit Nigeria and Africa.
“Milost Global Inc. has analysed all its facts on the table and decided to terminate the Unity Bank transaction and the termination letter was sent to the bank this morning,”
The company said it would however proceed with its financing deal with Japaul Oil and Gas Plc and Resort Savings and Loans, by releasing $31 million to them next month. “Milost Global Inc, wishes to reaffirm its interest in the Nigerian market and to also state that it will soon be releasing the first and second drawdowns to Japaul Oil & Maritime Services Plc to the total of $21 million in a combo of equity and debt. Another first and second draw down proceeds of $10 million will be released to Resort Savings & Loans Plc; the funds will be released to both company within the month of April,” said Freeman.
Among other things, Milost denied media reports which questioned its financing activities in Nigeria, and accused it of violating regulations of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The company alleged that the media reports may not be unconnected to emails threats it received from an individual against the Unity Bank deal.
It stated: “Soon after the (Bloomberg) story broke, Milost started receiving threatening emails from a gentleman who says he is politically connected to the powers that could shut Milost out of Nigeria if Milost didn’t terminate the Unity Bank transaction. The said individual was very well informed about our dealings with Unity Bank such that he knew the audit group Milost had hired to carry out the final due diligence. He told Milost to tell the board of Unity Bank that the audit firm had instructed Milost that Unity Bank was a bad investment, failing which he would unleash the media on Milost using among other things accusations that would cause the government to send Milost packing. These threatening emails were shared with the CEO of Unity Bank and the then CFO Ebenezer Kawole’’.