It is official. Honeywell group held by Oba Otudeko, has just notified the regulatory authorities of its acquisition of an additional equity of almost five billion shares of First Bank Nigeria.
The acquisition of which notification has also been sent to FBN Holdings Plc of which Otudeko was for sometime chairman, was via a Honeywell group affiliate Barbican Capital Limited.
According to a statement on Honeywell’s website, “Honeywell Group Limited (HGL) has notified FBN Holdings Plc (FBN) and regulatory authorities of the acquisition of 4,770,269,843 shares of FBN by its affiliate company, Barbican Capital Limited. This purchase is in addition to previously disclosed interests by HGL’s affiliates.
“HGL holds its investments for the long term, working closely with all stakeholders to foster the creation of enhanced value for all.
“The investment is consistent with HGL’s mission to create, build and invest in great businesses that deliver enduring value and improve lives.”
The statement confirms BusinessDay’s exclusive story in which the newspapaer said Nigerian conglomerate Honeywell Group, had been identified by multiple sources as the buyer of the 4.7 billion shares of First Bank of Nigeria Holdings that happened in a cross deal on Thursday.
The shares which Otudeko bought for N87.8 billion at N19 per unit is the largest volume of First bank shares traded in a single day since 2012, when the stock exchange started publishing data. It also translates to 13 percent of the bank’s outstanding market value.
Sources say Otudeko, who was chairman of First Bank until 2019, has made swift comeback and is easily now the single largest shareholder of the bank by a a mile, according to those who know.
Billionaire Nigerian investor, Femi Otedola was once touted as the bank’s single largest shareholder in 2021 during a tussle with Hassan Odukale who was also vying for control of the bank after a leadership gap emerged from Otudeko’s exit.
First Bank did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
“Otudeko is flush with cash from the sale of Honeywell Flourmill and is buying back the bank’s shares through (entities linked to him),” a source familiar with the matter said.
Flour Mills, Nigeria’s biggest miller by market value, snapped up Otudeko’s Honeywell Flour Mills Plc last year in a deal worth N82 billion.
It was thought that Otudeko held 1.49 percent of First Bank shares in 2021 but information now available show that he held a significantly higher equity through associated entities and that is why his recent accent to the top has been smooth.
Otudeko’s representatives on FBN’s board had been unceremoniously sacked by suspended CBN governor Godwin Emefiele in what many believed was linked to dealings between FBN and Heritage Bank and the stout resolve of the erstwhile directors not to follow suggestions by the apex bank.
More details to come