• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

AMCON gets payment, defends sale of Enterprise Bank

The managing director of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCON) Mustafa Chike Obi has laid to rest controversies surrounding the sale of Enterprise Bank to Heritage Bank, insisting he will defend the transaction with his life.

He spoke to BusisnessDay last night as word emerged that Heritage met the deadline to pay up the balance 80 percent of its acquisition price of N56 billion. The funds are believed to have gone into AMCON’s account at First Bank Plc.

“There can be no truth in the allegation that we were unfair to any of the parties to the transaction and if any thing, we did our best to be both transparent and above board”, Chike Obi said.

According to him, “People will say all sorts of things but the facts on the ground speak for us. We had a first round and at the end of it, we found that the bidders inserted conditions and mark ups which we were uncomfortable with, especially when our lawyers said they could not put value to the mark ups. So we asked everybody to go for a second round and made it clear we will not entertain any conditions or mark ups because we wanted every bidder to be on the same level field.

“We disqualified all bids that contained any mark up and it was at this point that Heritage was adjudged the preferred bidder and Fidelity Bank emerged reserve bidder.”

The AMCON CEO dismissed insinuations that it was high handed in the manner it treated the bid by the consortium led by a former chairman of Enterprise, Emeka Onwuka, and which had the leading private equity firm ABRAAJ on the team.

“There can be no truth to this allegation”, Chike Obi said. “If any one expected us to be talking to any of the parties while the bid process was on, then they were asking us to be partial. Once any party had sent in its bid, it would have been unfair to work with such a bidder to improve its offer”, he explained.

Asked if it was global practice for AMCON to ask that bids should not have conditions or mark ups attached to them, the AMCON CEO said mark ups tend to give varying values to a bid and that in any case it was the seller’s right to lay down the terms of the sale and it was up to a prospective buyer to participate in the sale or opt out.

One analyst who has closely followed the transaction said last night that “perhaps one good way to measure the work AMCON has done relative to Enterprise, is to consider the winning price of N56 billion which was far in excess of what the market expected at the time.”