Reports that billionaire businessman Femi Otedola has taken a controlling stake in First Bank of Nigeria worth about N30 billion can be confirmed by MoneyCentral.
Sources tell MoneyCentral that the transaction happened over the past 1 month (from around September 27th) as shares of FBN Holdings (the parent company of First Bank) began to climb higher following the acquisitions, which makes Otedola the single largest shareholder of the bank.
“We reckon he built his stake through a number of vehicles, including custody accounts,” a source speaking to MoneyCentral said.
First Bank shares are up 103 percent in the past one year and are up some 52 percent since September 30 alone to trade at N12.24 per share today from N8.05 per share back then.
First Bank has a market capitalisation of N434.3 billion, meaning Otedola could be controlling up to a 7 percent stake in the bank with a N30 billion purchase of shares.
Another source told MoneyCentral that the amount spent by Otedola to buy a majority stake in First Bank was much higher than N30 billion figure.
“He spent much higher than that, and if you know him well you will know that he will keep on increasing his stake in the bank,” the second source said.
What this invariably means is that being the largest shareholder, he holds the highest voting shares and can dictate the direction of the bank through his voting power.
In 2019 when he divested his 75% direct and indirect share holding in Forte Oil, via a merger of his company Zenon Oil and former African Petroleum, many wondered why he made such a decision especially because of the lucrative nature of the oil and gas sector.
They became all the more curious as to what his next move would be.
He didn’t keep them guessing too long as he soon announced that he wanted to explore and maximize business opportunities in refining and petrochemicals.
Even though he also had investments in the real estate and financial sector, Otedola singled out First Bank for the single reason that there wasn’t exactly one man calling the shots there, unlike in other new generation banks.
He wasted no time in taking advantage of the leadership crisis that rocked First Bank not too long ago that the Central Bank of Nigeria sacking both the chairman of the bank, Ibukun Awosika and Obafemi Otudeko, the chairman of FBN Holdings.