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Following Confirmation of Otedola as Largest Shareholder, FBN Holdings Names Abdullahi New Chairman

In what is evidently a battle for the control of FBN Holdings (FBNH), Remi Babalola on Friday resigned as Chairman, Board of Directors of the company, two days after FBNH

Alhaji Ahmad Abdullahi

In what is evidently a battle for the control of FBN Holdings (FBNH), Remi Babalola on Friday resigned as Chairman, Board of Directors of the company, two days after FBNH confirmed significant investment by billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola.

FBN Holdings is the parent company of First Bank of Nigeria.

On the same day, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that it had okayed the appointment of Alhaji Ahmad Abdullahi as non-executive Director of FBN Holding Plc and Chairman of the company to replace Babalola.
As at press time, it was not clear whether, Abdullahi was nominated by Otedola, who is now the single largest shareholder in the company.

Industry sources said FBNH had on Wednesday informed regulators about Otedola’s new position as the single largest shareholder.

Last week, Otedola acquired an additional 2.5 per cent in FBN Holdings Plc., becoming the single largest shareholder in the company.

Based on this, the equity stake of Otedola is now 7.57 per cent of the issued share capital of FBNH.

In a corporate filing on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) on Wednesday, FBN Holdings confirmed the deals.
Despite his shareholding status, Otedola had said the move was purely an investment decision and not to become the chairman or hold any key position in the HoldCo.

“Being the single largest shareholder doesn’t mean I must necessarily hold a position in the bank. I believe in allowing competent people to run institutions in a professional manner and to the benefit of all the stakeholders,” he had said.

The CBN on Friday okayed the appointment of Abdullahi as the new Chairman of FBNH to replace Balalola.

Its Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, disclosed in a statement that the bank had been duly notified of the resignation of Babalola, as Chairman of the company against the backdrop of contest by some significant shareholders for control of the financial institution.

While congratulating Abdullahi on his appointment, the CBN described Babalola’s resignation as the Chairman of the company as highly regrettable, especially given the fact that CBN’s regulatory interventions had made positive impact and increased attractiveness of the company to both local and foreign investors.

Notwithstanding the recent development, he said the CBN acknowledged the measured achievements recorded by the company under Babalola’s watch, and thanked him for his service, even as the CBN wished him well in his future endeavours.

According to Nwanisobi, the regulatory measures taken by the CBN were yielding the expected results in terms of overhaul of corporate governance practices, restoration of confidence in the bank’s brand, increased transparency and due process in transactions as well as improved financial performance.

In line with its statutory mandate, the CBN spokesman said the CBN remained committed to ensuring transparent governance practices at the bank and the continued independence of the chairman and other persons holding key governance positions.

Given the systemic importance of First Bank owing to its historical significance, balance sheet size, large customer base and high level of interconnectedness with other financial service providers, the CBN had in April 2021, taken decisive regulatory action to address corporate governance infractions at the bank leading to the removal of the board of First Bank Ltd and FBN Holdco Plc and appointment of a new board.

Abdullahi is an economist and thorough-bred professional with long years of experience in the academia, banking supervision and financial regulation, retiring as Director of Banking Supervision, CBN in February 2020.

An expert in bank crisis resolution, he also serves on the boards of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), FMDQ, NDIC and AMCON.

Babalola was appointed chairman, April 29, 2021, and had spent a little over six months.

In a parting mail, Babalola wrote: “My esteemed Co-Directors of First Bank, the over 7-months journey since my appointment by the CBN to the Board of the Holdings Company has been a mix of hard work, sacrifices, battles and consensus building, all aimed at returning the institution to the path of stability and sustainable growth.

Though, the assigned mandate has been daunting, we have within the short period successfully reinstated confidence in the institution, overhauled its corporate governance and introduced openness and due process in all transactions.

“However, after deep reflection on recent developments relative to my personal values, I resigned my appointment as a Non-Executive Director and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of FBN Holdings with immediate effect.

“I thank you for your unflinching support, co-operation and valuable contributions during my short leadership. I wish you the very best as you soldier on.”

Obinna Chima

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