Business - News - December 10, 2021

Fresh share acquisitions put Otedola in unassailable lead as First Bank’s controlling shareholder

Businessman now has 7.57%, consisting 210 million shares held directly by him, and 2,507,282,140 shares held indirectly through companies affiliated to him.

By Bassey Udo

The race to determine who owns the controlling shares of FBN Holdings, the parent company of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, appears far from over, as Lagos businessman, Femi Otedola, has announced a further shareholding, which has raised his equity in the bank to about 7.57 percent.

Otedola, in a letter dated December 9, 2021, written to notify the bank of the latest development, gave details of the shareholdings as follows: 210 million shares held directly by him, while a total of 2,507,282,140 shares are held indirectly through companies affiliated to him.

The affiliates Calvados Global Services Limited, Primrose Global Concept, Shetland Global, Wells Properties and Impetus Synergy.

The total direct and indirect shareholdings put at about 2,717,282,140 shares, or about 7.57 percent equity appears to have put him in an unassailable position in the race to control the bank.

Although First Bank management said it was yet to be informed officially, the details of the share ownership distribution contained in the letter showed Otedola as the single largest shareholder of the bank.

Although Otedola sent a copy of his letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria Exchange Limited, and the Central Bank of Nigeria, the capital market regulators are yet to make official announcements.

Last October, First Bank stirred controversy with its announcement that Otedola and his nominee in the company had emerged its controlling shareholder with about 5.07 percent equity.

Although FBN Holdings Plc, the parent entity, issued an update in its correspondence to the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) a day after, the controversy has continued to linger.

In its update, FBN Holdings said named its Chairman, Tunde Hassan Odukale as its substantial shareholder, and not Otedola.

Odukale
FBN Holdings said Odukale owns about 5.36 percent of its equity against Otedola’s 5.07 percent.

The bank said apart from his direct shareholding of about 4.16 percent of the bank’s equity, Odukale holds another 1.20 percent equity indirectly through parties related to him, including his “cumulative equity stake” of 1.05 percent of Leadway Pensure PFA’s holdings.

A breakdown of Odukale’s shareholding shows that his total 5.36 percent shareholding included 26,231,887 units of direct shareholdings and 1,897,280,212 units of indirect shareholdings.

The indirect shareholdings include those held through Leadway Assurance Company Limited; ZPC/Leadway Assurance Prem & Inv Coll Acct; Haskal Holdings Limited; Leadway Capital & Trust Limited; LAC Investments Limited; Leadway Properties and Investments Limited; Leadway Holdings (HoldCo); OHO Investment, and Leadway Pensure PFA.

However, the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) last month waded into the matter to clarify that there was no basis for FBN Holdings to ascribe the shares in Leadway Pensure PFA to Odukale, since the equity investments in the bank were made from a pool of contributors’ funds under management.

“The equity investments in FBN Holdings made by Leadway Pensure Ltd on behalf of the pension funds under its management are in the name of the pension fund and belong to the RSA holders,” PENCOM clarified.

“Therefore, the equity investments in FBN Holdings Plc cannot be appropriated or classified as shareholdings of any related party to the PFA,” it added.

With the clarification by PENCOM, Odukale’s certified shareholding was reduced 5.36 percent to 4.31 percent, consisting of direct shareholding of 4.16 percent, plus indirect holding of 0.15 percent (1.20 percent less 1.05 percent in Leadway Pensure PFA).

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