• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

Shareholders kick against de-marketing ploy against Heritage Bank

heritage bank

 Shareholders of Heritage Bank plc have refuted reports that their bank is struggling with liquidity issues, and that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is planning to remove its management and board.

 The shareholders are particularly worried over what they called “the deliberate falsehood being spread by some local media that Heritage Bank is “co-owned” by the former chairman of Skye Bank, Tunde Ayeni, who on Monday resigned as the chairman of Skye Bank and the embattled Senate president, Bukola Saraki.

 “This is most mischievous and totally out of order. It is a glaring case of de-marketing and we have since drawn the attention of the CBN to this very dangerous trend,” a leading shareholder of the bank, Musa Ibrahim Misau,
said at a briefing in Abuja.

 Misau explained that the owners and key shareholders in Heritage Bank bought off the defunct Societe Generale Bank (SGBN), which was owned by the Saraki family. “The Saraki family was out-rightly bought out. The family, including Dr. Bukola Saraki does not have a dime in Heritage Bank. We have in just a few years built this bank to a colossus that has become the envy of the sector and we are not going to sit by and allow ill-intentioned
persons to de-market Heritage bank. No, it will not happen,” he said.

 “It is a lie that can only emanate from persons who do not wish the economy of Nigeria well. For your information, Tunde Ayeni has less than one per cent share in Heritage Bank and Bukola Saraki has no shares or any form of
ownership stakes in Heritage Bank,” Misau noted.

 The shareholders also decried suggestion by media platform that the CBN could be planning to sack the management and board of Heritage Bank, describing it as one of the healthiest and fastest growing
in the country.

 “We are thoroughly miffed by the attempt by certain persons or groups, who do not mean well for the economy of our great country and indeed the economic agenda of our dear President, to negatively target Heritage Bank,
a bank that the Central Bank of Nigeria and several local and internal rating agencies have ranked among the healthiest banks in Nigeria, as a struggling bank.

 “But you are all journalists and have access to the CBN; please go and get the correct facts, figures and data from the CBN. I cannot imagine how normal persons can conceive and concoct such evil,” Misau said.

 He said that fact that Tunde Ayeni is a very marginal shareholder in the bank would not mean that what happened at Skye Bank would necessarily happen at Heritage Bank, saying that the “two banks are not related in any
way and do not have similar ownership structure or management model. “Tunde Ayeni obviously has marginal shares in other healthy banks in Nigeria. Does that now mean that the CBN would sack the management and
board of these banks as well? What is the basis of the claim by this online news medium that Heritage Bank is being targeted by CBN?” Misau queried.

 Meanwhile, top sources at the CBN confirmed to BusinessDay that Heritage Bank remained healthy and not struggling and that it was not in the apex bank’s bad books.

 “This is all politics. Why didn’t they (the reporters) come out with the report before now,” the CBN source queried. But he explained that like most banks in Nigeria, Heritage Bank is just learning to cope with the sudden decision of the Federal Government to domicile all public sector funds with the CBN under the Treasury Single Account (TSA) regime.

  “Other than this sudden movement of all public sector funds to the CBN, Heritage Bank remains one of the healthiest and well managed banks in Nigeria.

 “Its internal mechanisms and control are so strong and we are not surprised that the Bank has practically overcome the shock most banks suffered as result of the domiciliation of all public sectors funds with the CBN
following the full implementation of the TSA regime by the Buhari administration, ” another senior CBN source said.