By OLAWUNMI ASHAFA
LAGOS- The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the sale of Polaris Bank to a new core investor, Strategic Capital Investment Ltd (SCIL).
A statement signed by Mr Osita Nwanisobi, Director, Corporate Communications and posted on CBN website on Thursday, said the sale was concluded after a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) for the acquisition of 100 per cent equity in the bank by SPA.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Polaris has been operating as a bridge bank since 2018 when the CBN intervened and revoked the licence of the former Skye Bank Plc.
It also established Polaris Bank to assume its assets and certain liabilities.
As part of the CBN intervention, consideration bonds with a face value of N898 billion (future value of N1.305 trillion) was injected into the bridge bank through the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), to be repaid over a 25-year period.
These actions were taken to prevent the imminent collapse of the bank, enable its stabilisation and recovery, protect depositors’ fund, prevent job losses and preserve systemic financial stability.
It said SCIL had paid an upfront consideration of N50 billion to acquire 100 per cent of the equity of Polaris Bank.
The statement said it had also accepted the terms of the agreement, which included the full repayment of the sum of N1.305 trillion, being the consideration bonds injected.
It said, “The CBN thus received an immediate return for the value it has created in Polaris Bank during the stabilisation period, as well as ensuring that all funds originally provided to support the intervention are recovered.
“The sale was coordinated by a Divestment Committee (the ‘Committee’) comprising representatives of the CBN and AMCON, and advised by legal and financial consultants.
“The committee conducted a sale process by ‘private treaty’, as provided in Section 34(5) of the AMCON Act to avoid negative speculations, retain value and preserve financial system stability.”
According to the statement, in the process, parties who had formally expressed an interest in acquiring Polaris Bank, subsequent to the CBN intervention in 2018, were invited to submit financial and technical proposals.
“Invitations to submit proposals were sent to 25 pre-qualified interested parties, out of which three (3) parties eventually submitted final purchase proposals following technical evaluation.
“All submissions were subject to a rigorous transaction process from which SCIL emerged as the preferred bidder having presented the most comprehensive technical/financial purchase proposal as well as the highest rated growth plans for Polaris Bank,” it said.
Commenting on the transaction Mr Godwin I. Emefiele, Governor of CBN said: “This sale marks the completion of a landmark intervention in a strategic institution in the Nigerian banking sector by the CBN and AMCON.
“We commend the outgoing board and management for their vital role since the bridge bank was established; in stabilising the bank’s operations, its balance sheet and implementing strong governance structures to address the issues that led to the intervention.
“This process has provided the CBN with an unprecedented opportunity to recover its intervention funds in full and promote financial stability and inclusive growth.
“We wish SCIL well as they implement growth plans to build the bank from the strong foundations that have been established.” (NAN)