Banks jostle for Keystone Bank as AMCON moves to name new owners

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By Odunewu Segun

With a total assets of N317.6 billion, customer deposits of N245 billion and an equity of N18.9 billion based on audited account as of June, 2015 Keystone Bank, the last of three banks nationalized, is set to get a new owner, according to Nigeria’s Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

When AMCON first notified the public of its intention to divest its 100 per cent interest in the former Bank PHB which had four operational subsidiaries, two of which are international, 156 branches, 22 cash centres and 306 automated teller machines, three commercial lenders-Sterling Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc and Wema Bank had signified interest. But along the line Sterling Bank pulled out, leaving Fidelity and Wema Bank to contend for its ownership.

While announcing its intention to discontinue its interest, Sterling Bank with a deposit base of N582.63 billion and total equity of N88.2 billion said it has reviewed Keystone Bank and concluded the strategic fit was not strong enough. We will continue to evaluate all the options.

“We reviewed Keystone Bank and concluded the strategic fit was not strong enough. We will continue to evaluate all the options. As new candidates come into the market, we will also review them,” CFO Abubakar Suleiman, had said.

Recall that Sterling Bank had said in February it was aiming to buy one or two mid-sized lenders as sharp falls in the value of the naira and increased regulatory pressure forced banks to recapitalise.

ALSO SEE: AMCON to conclude sales of Keystone Bank in 2 weeks

With its abrupt withdrawal, Fidelity Bank and Wema bank became local major contenders, while some international concerns are also pulling some strings on how to buy into the Nigeria’s local banking industry with a buy of Keystone bank, National Daily gathered.

Fidelity Bank with an assets base of N1.159 trillion, customer deposits of N765.785 billion and 220 branch network is a major contender, especially having previously lost the bids for Enterprise Bank and Mainstreet Bank to Heritage and Skye Banks respectively.

The recent involvement of its Managing Director, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo in a $153 million money laundering scam for former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, leading to his arrest by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission may not pose any obstacle to the bank’s bid, as National Daily gathered that the bank is determined to acquire Keystone Bank to boost its status in the banking industry.

Wema Bank, the other contender which has just been granted a national banking license by the Central Bank of Nigeria is being tipped for the purchase of Keystone, National Daily gathered

It has a capital base of N43.8 billion with a branch network of 135, a customer base of 1.6 million and staff strength of 1,106, has total assets of N344.63 billion and a deposit base of N234.09 billion. Its CAR currently stands at 18.94 per cent.

Keystone Bank is the last of the three nationalized banks created after the 2009 banking crisis and meant to be sold. Its sale which was meant to have taken place last year had been delayed due to the change of baton at the bank that saw its former managing director, Mustapha Chike-Obi, replaced by Ahmed Kuru, the managing director of Enterprise Bank, before it was sold to Heritage Bank.

Managing Director of AMCON, Ahmed Kure last week dropped the hint that it was in the final stage of the sales process, adding that the result would be announced by the end of the week.