By Uche Amunike
The owners of First Bank of Nigeria, (FBN), First Bank Holdings, have confirmed, on Saturday, that Nigerian billionaire, Femi Otedola is now the major shareholder of First Bank, having acquired a 5.07% equity stake in the company.
Recall that the holding firm had earlier denied knowing about the takeover, claiming that it had not received a notification of a significant holding by the billionaire.
On Saturday however, the firm confirmed that it received notification from APT Securities and Funds Limited, stating that its client, Mr Otedola Olufemi Peter and his nominee, Calvados Global Services Limited, have acquired a total of 1,818,551,625 units of shares from the company’s issued share capital of 35,895,292,791 as communicated to the Nigerian Exchange Limited.
According to the statement signed by the Company Secretary, Seye Kosoko, the equity stake of Mr Otedola and his nominee in the company which is now 5.07% makes him the bank’s single largest shareholder on record.
In its 2020 Annual Report and Accounts, the bank stated that according to Register of Members as at December 30, 2020, it was the first time the bank informed the Nigerian Stock Exchange of a substantial acquisition of shares that has thrown up an individual with 5% significance slice of the company as there was no shareholder with 5% of the shares of FBN Holdings PLC.
The FBN Holdings in 10 days before the statement was issued, had witnessed an unusually massive trading in shares and the cumulative number of units within the period surpassed 2.1 billion which catapulted its share value by 62.3% from the level it was 3 weeks ago.
According to an analyst at Meristem Securities, who pleaded anonymity, the trading boom began when Airtel Africa moved to acquire a minority stake in Airtel Nigeria. He claimed that Airtel Africa was listed, but Airtel Nigeria was not, so they were trying to acquire the remaining 8% minority stake in Airtel Nigeria.
FBN holdings, he said, holds a substantial proportion of the 8%, while noting that this type of share purchase is usually attractive to sellers, because a premium will be added to the fair value that has been agreed to by both parties of the transaction.
This, he added, is expected to boost the earnings of FBN Holdings as such activities served as a plus for them. He claimed that this was the connection between FBN Holdings and Airtel.
Shares of FBN Holdings rose 1.24% to N12.25 units on Friday as a result of the news.
The First Bank move launched Femi Otedola’s foray into banking, having sold off his shareholding in Forte Oil PlC in 2019 to consolidate his investment in Geregu Power Plc.
This acquisition which is estimated to have made a sprint in FBN Holdings beyond 5%, will lift Femi Otedola’s shareholding above that of Oba Otudeko and Oye Hassan who are two of the firm’s biggest owners with 1.5% and 1.03% holdings, respectively.
Until now Nigerian billionaire, Mike Adenuga had been making hectic plans to wrest control of the prime spot in FBN Holdings ownership before now.
The immediate past chairman of FBN Holdings board, Mr Otudeko, was removed from the organization’s top hierarchy in May 2021 after a conflict of interest and violation of procedure in appointing the Chief Executive of the group’s commercial banking, First Bank at the regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He is required to sell off his shares because he’s no longer the chairman and someone had to take those shares. This, was what resulted to Femi Otedola becoming the new biggest shareholder, the source concluded.