•Share price rises 58.7% in 2 months
By Peter Egwuatu & Nkiruka Nnorom
Shareholders of FBN Holdings Plc have expressed optimism that the acquisition of additional shares of the company by billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, would resolve the leadership tussle in the parent company of FirstBank Limited.
.Otedola is said to have acquired additional 2.5 percent shares of FBN Holdings to bring his total holdings to 7.57 percent, thereby making him single largest shareholder in the bank.
Though Otedola is said to have written the company, it was yet to notify the Nigerian Exchange Limited, NGX, of the acquisition.
With the acquisition, Otedola now has about 2.72 billion shares in FBNH through direct and indirect holdings.
These represent 7.57 percent of FBNH’s total issued share capital of 35.895 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each.
Speaking to Vanguard on the development, Mr. Patrick Ajudua, National Chairman, New Dimension Shareholders Association, NDSA, described it as a good development.
He said: “We hope it will resolve the leadership issue at FBNH. To us as shareholders, it is time to reconstitute the board and make Otedola assume his leadership position in order to move the company forward.
‘’It’s our expectations that given his good track record of business performance, he will bring to bear his experience and expertise, ensure that he reduces to minimum non-performing insider related loans and improve on returns to stakeholders.’’
Moses Igbrude, President, Issuers and Investors Alternative Dispute Resolution Initiative (IIADRI), said: “On the capital market, it is a total war not with armoury but with cash. If an investor has the capacity and interest to acquire a company he/she is very free to do so as far as the shares are available.
“For billionaire Otedola to have acquired additional 2.5% of the shares of FBN Holdings, it means he is interested to be among the persons to call the shots in the company.
“If the Memorandum and Articles of Association (memart) of the company says a director with over 7% ownership of shares can nominate two directors, why not? The bottom-line is that the company should be properly run and managed for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
Similarly speaking, Mrs Bisi Bakare, Chairman, Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria, PSAN, said: “If truly that Otedola has over 7% stake because we are yet to hear from the regulators the recent increase and the memat of the bank say he is entitled to appoint three directors, we don’t have any choice. But, I believe Otedola will take FBNH to a greater height. Currently, the shares have been on demand and have risen higher from where it was before. Also, his largest shareholding means that, as the largest shareholder, he owns the most voting shares and, as a result, has the most authority over the company’s direction.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Exchange Limited, NGX spokesperson, Mr Clifford Akpolo, last night confirmed to Vanguard that the bank is yet to notify the Exchange on the latest development though it is already aware that Otedola is the highest single shareholder.
In his words he said: “Our understanding is that he now has 7.5%. Because he is already a substantial shareholder, there is no need for a further announcement. However, in line with our insider dealing rules, the company will disclose the transaction using our insider disclosure form. This is because substantial shareholders are classified as insiders.”
Meanwhile the investment of Otedola in FBNH has generated increased sentiments and trading in the company’s shares. FBNH closed the week as the most-traded stock on the NGX with total turnover of 1.199 billion shares valued at N13.69 billion in 1,390 deals. Also, the share price of the bank has risen by 58.7 per cent per share in the past two months.
Reacting to the investment of Otedola in FBNH, the Managing Director/CEO, of APT Securities and Funds Limited, Mallam Garba Kurfi, said: “Otedola’s holding has really helped the company’s shares which currently trade at N11.90 per share compared with N7.50 before he came on board two months ago. FBNH is now in the league of top 30 Index which was not there before. His coming is more of a blessing to the entire holders of FBNH shares because of the price appreciation of more than 50% in the last two months.”