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Shareholder Squabbles Forces Regulators To Take Out First Registrars, Appoint Meristem Registrars As FBNH Overseers

The Oasis Reporters

November 2, 2021

First Registrars..a subsidiary of First Bank, taken out to avoid ‘conflict of interest’
…move seen to address shareholding controversy

With the controversy raging between the Femi Otedola camp and Tunde Odukale of Leadway Pensure group over who owns the largest shareholding in First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Regulators have moved to address the controversy over the shareholding structure at FBNH.

The board of directors of FBN Holdings has therefore approved the appointment of Meristem Registrars as its new registrars replacing First Registrars and Investors Services Ltd. Even when the later is a subsidiary of the holding company.

First Registrars..taken out of the equation.

In a press release signed by Company Secretary Seye Kosoko detailing a series of appointments, which includes Nnamdi Okonkwo as the new Group MD/CEO, it stated that “The Board approved the appointment of Meristem Registrars Limited as the new Registrars to take over the Register of Members of FBN Holdings Plc in replacement of First Registrars and Investors Services Limited, with effect from December 1, 2021.”

The recent announcement of Mr. Femi Otedola as a majority shareholder of FBN Holdings forced a series of press releases from the bank one of which was a controversial mention of Mr. Tunde Odukale of Leadway Pensure as also one of the majority shareholders with a purported 5.36% of the shares of the bank holding company.

This, however, forced the Nigerian Exchange to issue a query to the bank requesting that it explain the flip-flops over the shareholding structure of the bank. The bank responded vide a letter published on the website of the NSE on Wednesday, March 27th, 2021, explaining the shareholding structure in what some analysts have considered bizarre.

This latest move to remove First Registrars from the picture despite being a subsidiary of the holding company, is believed to avert a likely conflict of interest it may have since it is a subsidiary of First Bank.

The bank regulators felt embarrassed by the degenerating situation.

Another major reason attributed for the change may also be that some of the shareholders of the bank holding company may still exert significant control over First Registrars, a challenging situation that may impact on the final determination of who are actually the majority shareholders of the bank.

One of the first tasks for Meristem Registrars will likely be to review the register of shareholders of FBN Holdings and determine who the majority shareholders are. They will also determine the quantum of direct and indirect shares owned by the current directors of the bank holding company.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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