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Fidelity, Sterling, Wema Jostle To Buy Keystone Bank

Some commercial banks have begun to jostle for the purchase of Keystone Bank Ltd, the last nationalised bank owned by the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON).

AMCON had yesterday placed advertisements in major newspapers in the country calling for expression of interest for the acquisition of its shareholding in Keystone Bank Ltd where it has 100 per cent holding.

LEADERSHIP findings  reveal that three local banks, Sterling Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc and Wema Bank, have shown interest in the AMCON-owned bank put up for sale yesterday.

Sterling Bank’s chief financial officer, Abubakar Suleiman, announced that the bank was looking to buy “one or two mid-sized commercial lenders” following the drop in the value of the naira.

Abubakar told Reuters that he expects devaluation to drop by as much as 20 per cent, which will impact on the capital adequacy ratio of companies; which means banks will need to raise new capital to meet CBN’s capital adequacy ratio limits.

According to him, Sterling Bank is in a prime position to pick up some banks as the bank had in January last year raised about N19 billion in private placements, bringing its total capital to N92.9 billion.

With a staff strength of 3,000 working in 185 business outlets that service 1.4 million customers, the bank’s deposit base currently stands at N582.63 billion while its total assets and total equity are at N792.55 billion and N88.2 billion respectively by September 30, 2015.

Managing director and chief executive of the bank, Yemi Adeola, in December said it was open to merger or acquisition in order to build up scale and battle the weak market and a deteriorating economy.

Adeola noted that the slowdown in the economy, along with currency weakness, provided opportunities for a market consolidation to build scale and cut costs, adding that one or two foreign banks were having discussions about possible acquisitions in Nigeria.

Fidelity Bank which had placed bids for Enterprise Bank and Mainstreet Bank but lost to Heritage and Skye Banks respectively has also begun plans to bid for Keystone, LEADERSHIP findings have shown.

A source within the bank said that the bank was still very much interested in acquiring an AMCON bank to boost its status in the banking industry.

Fidelity has a niche in corporate and retail banking with 225 branches nationwide and had emerged the reserved bidder for Enterprise Bank and the second reserved bidder for Mainstreet Bank.

Fidelity Bank, with a staff strength of 3,296 and a capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 20.6 per cent by September 31, 2015, has total assets of N1.59 trillion and total equity of N180.3 billion.

With a customer base of 3.2 million, the bank’s deposit base stood at N765.78 billion.

Also Wema Bank which was recently granted a national banking license by the Central Bank of Nigeria is being tipped for the purchase of Keystone.

With a capital base of N43.8 billion, the bank is planning a tier one capital in the first quarter of the year.

The bank, with a branch network of 135, a customer base of 1.6 million and staff strength of 1,106, has total assets of N344.63 billion and a deposit base of N234.09 billion. Its CAR currently stands at 18.94 per cent.

The deadline for the expression of interest for the purchase of the bank has been fixed for 5pm, Friday March 4, 2016, giving a three weeks’ timeframe for prospective buyers.

Keystone Bank by December 31, 2015 had four operational subsidiaries, two of which are international, 156 branches, 22 cash centres and 306 automated teller machines.

Based on the audited financial statement of the bank, by June 30, 2015, the bank’s total assets stood at N317 billion, customer loans at N98.2 billion, customer deposit at N245 billion and total equity at N18.9 billion.

Keystone Bank is the last of the three nationalized banks created after the 2009 banking crisis and meant to be sold. Its sale which was meant to have taken place last year had been delayed due to the change of baton at the bank that saw its former managing director, Mustapha Chike-Obi, replaced by Ahmed Kuru, the managing director of Enterprise Bank, before it was sold to Heritage Bank.

AMCON noted that upon receipt of the expressions of interest (EoIs), it would make a shortlist of those who it deemed fit to be suitable from a regulatory perspective, among other things, to proceed to the first phase of the transaction.

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