In the ongoing saga for control over First Bank of Nigeria Holdings Plc, prominent businessman and Geregu Power Plant Chairman, Femi Otedola, has made a significant move by acquiring an additional 110 million units of First Bank shares. This maneuver appears to place him in direct competition with the current majority shareholder of the bank, Oba Otudeko. The power play between these two influential figures has been intensifying, as each vies for dominance within the institution.
Otedola’s latest acquisition follows a recent sell-off of about 834 million shares of First Bank, valued at approximately N9.28 billion. This strategic deal enabled Otedola to secure the position of the bank’s largest shareholder as of June 2023. The development underscores his determination to assert his influence and control within the institution, particularly in the midst of a heated boardroom battle over ownership.
The tumultuous landscape surrounding the ownership of Nigeria’s oldest bank has garnered significant attention. The protracted feud led to the intervention of the Nigerian Exchange, which stepped in to address and clarify the ownership dispute. Recent reports indicate that Otedola’s shareholding within the bank currently stands at 7.57%, reflecting his growing interest in its affairs.
This latest development comes after Honeywell Group Chairman, Oba Otudeko, solidified his stake as the largest shareholder in July. Otudeko achieved this by acquiring an impressive 4,770,269,843 units of shares through a Special Purpose Vehicle known as Barbican Capital. This entity is affiliated with the Honeywell Group, and Otudeko’s new acquisition represents a significant 13.3% of the bank’s 35,895,292,791 outstanding shares within FBN Holdings.
Nonetheless, controversy continues to swirl around the bank’s upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM), which is scheduled for August 15, 2023. The institution has found itself embroiled in legal wrangling, with ongoing uncertainty over whether it will be allowed to proceed with the AGM. First Bank maintains that it is still awaiting a court order that could potentially halt the AGM’s scheduled proceedings.
As these titans of industry continue to battle for control, the fate of First Bank of Nigeria Holdings Plc hangs in the balance. Shareholders, regulators, and the wider financial industry are closely watching to see how this power struggle will ultimately unfold and impact the future direction of the country’s historic banking institution.