Adekunle Sonola, managing director and chief executive officer of Polaris Bank, has sent an e-mail to the staff over a media report on the ownership of the bank.
Last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it completed the sale of Polaris Bank to Strategic Capital Investment Limited (SCIL), the new core investor. SCIL was said to have paid an upfront consideration of N50 billion to acquire 100 percent of the equity of the bank. As part of the deal, SCIL also accepted the terms of the agreement which (at the time) included the full repayment of the sum of N1.305 trillion, being the consideration bonds injected.
On Thursday, a report by Premium Times accused the bank of breaching the Corporate and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 by not disclosing the details of Polaris bank’s 45 percent ownership in its documentation with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
The report named Michel Danladi Verheijen and Ehimari Idahi, who are venture capitalists, and Albert Chukwuemeka Emuwa, a banker, as holders of the 45 percent stake through “layers of offshore entities”.
However, in an e-mail to the staff, which was leaked to TheCable, Sonola asked them to focus their energies “on building an enduring brand” as the bank has gone beyond “the sale process”.
The CEO also referred to the joint statement, dated October 20, 2022, issued by the CBN and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) announcing the sale of 100 percent equity in Polaris Bank to a new core investor, SCIL.
He referred to another statement by CBN on January 4, 2023 “wherein it provided copious details of the process by which the sale was conducted. These publications are still in the public domain and continue to be reference points where further enquiries are needed,” Sonola said.
“Contrary to claims… the divestment from Polaris Bank was supervised by a Divestment Committee (the Committee) comprising senior representatives of AMCON and CBN and supported by reputable legal and financial advisers. In addition, the divestment mode, process, and decision received requisite board and regulatory approvals.
“We reiterate that the divestment from Polaris Bank was in compliance to a well-defined, and appropriately implemented institutional framework as required by the necessary regulatory provisions guiding such divestments. In addition, the process was coordinated using known reputable legal and financial advisers in Nigeria and approved by the respective leaderships/boards of the two institutions.
“Please be assured that our Bank has since progressed beyond the sale process, as the relevant facts surrounding the acquisition and the transparency that preceded the sale has always been in the public domain. We encourage you to remain undistracted by the story and focus your energies as you have done in recent months on building an enduring brand anchored on excellent service and exceptional customer experience.”