Enterprise Bank was created from the defunct Spring Bank, while Keystone Bank Limited and Mainstreet Bank Limited emerged from Bank PHB and Afribank respectively in 2011 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) following the expiration of the deadline given to a number of sick banks to get buyers.
The corporation had acquired them in August 2011, after the intervention by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and the CBN.
Although the three banks have demonstrated their readiness to put their recent history behind them and compete favourably with their peers, AMCON insisted it must follow the timetable for the sale of the banks, which it drew in 2011 when the affected banks were bridged.
The process, expected to be concluded by the third quarter of 2014, according to AMCON, would lead to the full divestment of its shares in the three banks.
AMCON, the main shareholder for the three banks, announced the plan to start the process by offering Enterprise Bank for sale in June. The corporation, which disclosed this in a statement, also explained that the sale of Keystone Bank Limited and Mainstreet Bank Limited would follow sequentially in order to ensure orderly and transparent transactions.
AMCON’s Managing Director Mustafa Chike-Obi, who spoke to reporters on the sale of the banks, explained that Enterprise Bank was picked because it is the smallest of the three affected banks.
“Enterprise Bank is the smallest and the cleanest of the three banks and anything learnt from the process of its sale can be applied in subsequent efforts. There is nothing magical about it,” he said. No Official Discussion with Potential Buyers Yet
When asked about the number of investors seeking to buy the bank, Chike-Obi said AMCON has not been discussing with any investors officially, given the fact that such negotiations could only start after the report of the financial advisers to the bank is submitted.
According to him, financial advisers to work on the sale of Enterprise Bank would be announced in two weeks’ time while the sale of the bank is to take place in less than 30 days.
He, however, admitted that despite the determination of AMCON to stick to its timetable, quite a number of people and organisations, at informal level, have expressed their interest in buying over the banks.
“It is true that we have been receiving calls from interested investors,” Chike-Obi said.
Analysts of the unfolding development, however, pointed out that the decision of the AMCON to use Enterprise Bank as a launch pad in its drive to divest from the bridged banks must have informed why it is the only bank of the bridged banks to make public its financial reports as it revealed that its gross earnings increased significantly to N40.4billion as at December 2012, compared to the N10.5 billion achieved in the five-month period ended 2011.