Breaking: Femi Otedola Acquires Additional Stake In First Bank Holdings to Become Undisputed Largest Shareholder

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Breaking: Femi Otedola Acquires Additional Stake In First Bank Holdings to Become Undisputed Largest Shareholder

December 10
14:38 2021

Effortlessly, billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, personifies the kernel of Vince Lombardi’s famous quote: “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit.”

For him, winning is clearly ingrained in his DNA. All his business ventures have been cutting large swaths through the labyrinths of otherwise unprofitable and volatile industries.

Many have wondered how he came to amass such vast affluence and an enduring sway at the pinnacle of the business world; it’s mostly a function of perception. An ingenious ability to discern the labyrinthine tracts of commerce, and his persistence in asking ‘why?’

It would be recalled that millions saw the apple fall but it was only Newton who asked ‘why?’ The late scientist, while blessed with incredible genius also betrayed an amazing gift of perception; he observed the little details that often counted but are habitually discounted in the flurry of things, which led him to the achievement great exploits and enviable rewards.

Otedola is no Newton but he displays a towering sagacity and wonderful gift of scrutiny similar to that oft ascribed to the late scientific genius. So adept is he at his vocation that he constantly discovers rare business opportunities often invisible to his peers. Simply put, he has acquired his reputation by good judgment, fair dealing, exactness, and rectitude – which jointly constitute the essence of his good fortune.

Yes, Otedola acquired at least 2.5 per cent additional interest in the company, bringing his total stake to 7.57 per cent.

Nigeria’s billionaire magnate and chair of Geregu Power Plc Femi Otedola has acquired a further interest in FBN Holdings Plc, the parent company of Nigeria’s oldest lender First Bank, an affirmation that the heated battle for the soul of the financial services group among its principal shareholders is not yet over.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the matter told us that Otedola acquired at least 2.5 per cent additional interest in the company, bringing his total stake to 7.57 per cent. Otedola previously made piecemeal acquisitions summing up to 5.07 per cent.

A disclosure of the latest development to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) is expected on Friday.

The purchase will formally consolidate his position as the single biggest shareholder of FBN Holdings, placing him well ahead of his closest rival Tunde Hassan-Odukale, FirstBank’s chairman, whom he has come in contention with since the news of his share acquisitions broke into the open late October.

Mr Otedola’s earlier move spurred Mr Hassan-Odukale to swiftly lay claim to 5.36 per cent shareholding in the holdco in what he called “cumulative equity stake” drawn from a combination of his direct, indirect and related party shareholding in the group.
Days after, the board of FBN Holdings issued a letter to the Corporate Affairs Commission, notifying Hassan-Odukale’s “5.36 per cent” cumulative stake and other related details. A spokesperson of the commission said that the letter was not delivered to it.

But the controversial aspect of his declaration, particularly his claim to 1.05 per cent stake held by Leadway Pensure PFA, a company owned by Mr Hassan-Odukale, attracted disapproval from the NGX and the National Pension Commission.

The wrangle around the claim lies in how an equity investment from a pool of employees’ pension contributions could qualify as a single individual’s investment.

While the NGX queried FBN Holdings in October, asking it to explain what it meant by “cumulative equity stake” and Mr Hassan-Odukale’s claim to investment by Leadway Pensure PFA, the pension office late affirmedthat shares of FBN Holdings Plc belong to Retirement Savings Account holders, and not a third party as FBN Holdings had claimed.

That technically puts Hassan-Odukale’s interest in the entity at 4.31 per cent after deducting the controversial stake.

On Tuesday, Lagos-based FBN Holdings issued its earnings report for the first nine months of this year, showing profit slumped by 40 per cent.

Although issues around who takes the top spot on the lender’s shareholding ladder seems to have lost steam in recent times, data on the daily transactions in FBN Holdings shares in the last 10 trading days show 1.444 billion units of the group’s shares were traded, making it the most active of the 156 stocks listed on the NGX.

The unusually large volume of traded shares is an indication that the two major shareholders could still be acquiring the lender’s shares without the public knowing.

Curiously, shares in FBN Holdings saw 1.75 per cent appreciation on Thursday although it reported a 40 per cent fall in nine-month profit two days earlier.

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