Bloomberg News

Ghana’s Pension Fund to Sell First Atlantic Stake to Investors

October 06, 2011

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Ghana’s state pension fund will sell its 62 percent stake in First Atlantic Merchant Bank Ltd., a closely held lender based in Accra, to Kedari Nominees Ltd. of Nigeria for 42 million cedis ($26 million).

Kedari Nominees, which is backed by a group of investment bankers in Nigeria, has paid 40 percent of the amount and is expected to pay the rest by the end of the month, Jerome Eshun, general manager for investment and development at Ghana’s Social Security and National Insurance Trust, said in an interview at his office Oct. 4. He declined to identify any of the Nigerian investors involved, citing the confidential nature of the deal.

The sale is “in line with our policy of rationalizing our investments in the banking industry,” Eshun said. “The proceeds will be put into other equally viable ventures.”

The central bank has been informed about the transaction and it will give its approval when the company pays the money in full, Eshun said.

E-mailed questions sent to the central bank’s banking- supervision department yesterday were not answered. Akofa Avorkliyah, director for the governor’s secretariat, did not answer calls made to her mobile phone yesterday and today.

The sale of the shares by the fund known by its acronym, SSNIT, is not related to a directive from the Bank of Ghana to boost capital for lenders said Eustace Annan, First Atlantic’s executive director for legal affairs, in an interview Oct. 4. The bank currently has a stated capital of 25 million cedis, said Annan. The central bank told lenders to increase that to 60 million cedis by December 2012.

“We are making contacts to recapitalize through private placement,” he said. “I want to believe SSNIT is doing this based on its own strategies to reap the best out of its investments.”

SSNIT supports ongoing talks between Ecobank Ghana Ltd., a subsidiary of Lome-based Ecobank Transnational Inc., to buy the fund’s 61 percent stake in Ghanaian-owned The Trust Bank Ltd., said Eshun. SSNIT is also third-largest shareholder in Ecobank Ghana with 0.9 percent, according to the bank’s annual report for 2010.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Ben Holland.

To contact reporter on this story: Moses Mozart Dzawu in Accra at mdzawu@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.


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