The Security and Exchange Commission is expected to make an imminent announcement on the shareholding controversy in FBN Holdings, the owners of First Bank Plc. This is according to information shared with Nairametrics from a reliable source with knowledge of the matter.
The bank has been embroiled in a shareholder controversy over who exactly owns majority shares in the bank after billionaire investor Femi Otedola officially declared that he has about 5.07% ownership of the bank via direct and indirect holdings.
Subsequently, another shareholder of the bank holding company and Chairman of the subsidiary of the bank, Mr. Tunde Odukale, notified the bank that he has a direct and indirect shareholding of the bank amounting to about 5.36% of the bank shares.
This threw up confusion for existing shareholders and stakeholders in the bank and Nigerian Stock Market respectively as they wondered what the latest makeup of the shareholdings of the bank is and who else might be next to declare substantial ownership. As of the last published result of the bank for the period ended June 2021, no shareholder-owned up to 5% of the bank whether directly or indirectly, thus fueling doubts among investors and stakeholders watching the events unfold.
Nairametrics understands the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the overriding regulator for Investments and Securities in the country is likely to issue a statement on the matter on Friday, October 29th, or early next week. We also understand that the SEC is already in contact with key stakeholders of the bank as part of its information gathering. The super-regulator has kept mum since the controversy brewed last week though sources suggest to Nairametrics that this was because the commission was conducting its own investigation on the matter.
The Nigerian Exchange, which also has regulatory oversight on public quoted companies on its exchange, issued a query to FBNH during the week, requesting that it explain the content of a letter issued by FBNH claiming Mr. Odukale of Leadway owned about 5.36% of the shares of the bank. The bank responded to SEC in a letter dated October 26, 2021, and signed by the company secretary, Seye Kosoko.
An intervention by SEC could be seen as a major escalation of the matter and might trigger several summonses of the management of the bank and the shareholders in question to provide evidence of shareholdings including when they were acquired. Of particular interest to SEC will be Section 34 subsection 34.3 of the SEC Code of Corporate Governance which deals with disclosure of directors and substantial interest in companies, subsidiaries, and associated companies.
Nairametrics will continue to provide up-to-date coverage of this matter considering its impact and importance on the development of the capital market and more importantly on retail investors, who we always advocate for.