A recent finding has revealed that industry investors and current employees of Keystone Bank Plc have been jittery over Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria’s (AMCON) move to finally divest its 100 percent stake in the bank.
The corporation, which has been silent on the stage and development involved in the sale of Keystone, the last of the three nationalised lenders to be sold after Mainstreet Bank was purchased by Skye Bank Plc and Enterprise Bank by Heritage Banking since 2014.
Information gathered has it that fear of uncertainty over the sales of the Keystone Bank, the biggest of the three lenders nationalised, bought by AMCON after the 2009 financial crisis, has continued to generate interest among the investors that that would benefit from the sale of the bank.
Recently, it was exclusively reported that AMCON has been keeping quiet since the pronouncement at the beginning of this year that the corporation has been receiving offers from different investors to buy the last of the bridge banks.
However, this announcement came over a year after the bad debt manager completed the sale of Enterprise Bank and Mainstreet Bank, two of the three nationalised banks.
But in a chat with our correspondent at its Lagos office on Friday, the Head of Corporate Communications, AMCON, Mr. Jude Nwauzor, said that the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the corporation, Ahmed Kuru, has disclosed that the corporation has concluded all plans to finally sell Keystone Bank and will announce the new buyers in a week from now.
However, we further gathered that due to high level of uncertainty surrounding the sales of the lender, tension has continued to rise among the prospective investors and most importantly current staffers of the bank.
AMCON, who had kept the progress recorded on the sales of the bank to itself since the announcement in February this year that it was seeking for prospective investors to buy the last of the bridged banks, after it had sold Mainstreet Bank Limited to Skye Bank Plc, and Enterprise Bank Limited to Heritage Bank.
It would recall that the corporation at the begining of 2015 also announced by the then Chief Executive Officer,AMCON, Mr. Mustafa Chike-Obi, stated that the February 2015 general elections had made the corporation delay the sale of Keystone Bank till the second quarter of the year and till now, which is over a year now the bank has yet to be sold.
“Keystone Bank will be sold in due course. An election time is clearly not the best time to commence the sale of a bank. We will wait for the elections and allow the dust to settle. Sometime in the second quarter of the year, we will commence the sale of Keystone Bank”, Obi stated.
Meanwhile, the current bad asset management boss, who was on a live TV program at the weekend noted that the corporation has succeeded in recovering N644 billion, stating that the financial institution is on its way to achieving its objective of protecting the economy and retrieving acquired bad debts in the Nigerian financial system.
In his words :“We have so far collected cash of about N644 billion, and we have settle 56 percent of the total N3.7 trillion has also been settled. Settled doesn’t mean money in pocket.
“Like I told you, the challenge is from within; the framework is a bit faulty. You can’t say that you are taking somebody’s liability, and this person’s business has failed, totally failed in the commercial bank, and you are giving the commercial bank liquidity.
Kuru explained that AMCON, with a 10-year lifespan, was not set up to make profit as such, but to deliver a social benefit of saving the economy and businesses from bad debts, adding that it is not out to kill businesses.
“The most important thing, like we always tell our debtors is; come and talk to us. We are supposed to help them, we are suppose to support them, AMCON is not out to come and kill businesses, we are to support businesses, and we have record to show businesses that we have supported and we have continued to support.
“We are supposed to be the economic catalyst; we are supposed to help with the economy. That is why we always advice that let us understand what the issues are, so we can work together, because with 12,700 accounts, it is a basket where opportunities can come up.
“We just want to protect the economy, support the economy and we also want to support the obligors in their businesses, but they must come and talk to us” he concluded.
AMCON had during the last quarter of 2014 completed the sale of Enterprise Bank and Mainstreet Bank to Heritage Bank and Skye Bank Plc, respectively for a combined sum of N181.1bn, after bidding processes that lasted for several months.
Heritage Bank won the bid to acquire Enterprise Bank for N56.1bn, while Skye Bank was announced as the winner for Mainstreet Bank with a bid of N125bn.
While Heritage Bank won the bid for Enterprise Bank, Fidelity Bank emerged the reserved bidder after a bidding process that involved over 20 buyers.