By Odunewu Segun
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and some powerful Northern interests may have successfully acquired the last of the three nationalized banks, Keystone Bank, through a front allegedly linked to the group, National Daily has gathered.
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on March 20 announced local consortium, Sigma Golf Nigeria Ltd and Riverbank Investment Resources Ltd as the new owners of the bank after winning the bid.
National Daily findings revealed that one of the consortium, Sigma Golf Nigeria Ltd has direct link to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Umar Modibbo, who is the MD/CEO of Sigma Pensions Limited.
According to National Daily investigations, the delay in announcing the new owners since 2016 is not unconnected with the internal squabbles among the management of AMCON over the alleged connection of the Northern group interests.
Meanwhile in a statement made available to National Daily by the AMCON the new beneficiaries emerged preferred bidder after the acquisition of the bank’s shares.
The new development came after regulatory approvals from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
AMCON, however, added that the completion of the transaction was now subject to the fulfillment of the conditions in the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) executed between the bad debt company and the consortium.
The corporation said the process leading to the acquisition started with interest shown by 18 parties cutting across local and international investors. “The emergence of the Sigma Golf-Riverbank consortium resulted from a rigorous and competitive bidding process, which was coordinated for AMCON by Citibank Nigeria Limited, its affiliates and FBN Capital (Joint Financial Advisers) as well as Banwo & Ighodalo and Crosswrock Law (Joint Legal Advisers).”
Recall that after the inquest carried out by the Mallam Lamido Sanusi-led CBN in 2008, three of the 24 national banks that scaled the 2005 banking consolidation – Afribank Plc, Spring Bank Plc and Bank PHB failed a stress test.
These were, subsequently, nationalised by a special purpose vehicle that emerged in AMCON, imposing a new administration and rebranding them as Mainstreet Bank Limited, Enterprise Bank Limited and Keystone Bank Limited.
Keystone Bank was incorporated by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) on August 3, 2011, after the takeover, while AMCON eventually capitalised it before appointing a board and an executive management team to lead the financial institution.
According to AMCON’s Head of Corporate Communications, Jude Nwauzor, as at April 2016, Keystone Bank had a staff strength of 1,753 employees, network of 154 branches, nine cash centres and 315 Automated Teller Machines.