First Bank close to sealing Polaris Bank acquisition

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FBN Holdings or First Bank is close to sealing a deal to acquire Polaris Bank, people familiar with the matter tell MoneyCentral.

Polaris Bank which emerged from the ashes of the defunct Skye Bank has returned to profit for 2019, but the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), will be keen to offload it to a willing buyer, so as to help in returning confidence to the lender as deposits are still down from earlier levels at the bank.

FBNH may be the only available buyer at this time as Access Bank is struggling with digesting last year’s acquisition of Diamond Bank, while Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) has signaled it prefers to grow organically. UBA has its African businesses providing much needed growth, and Polaris would not fit into Zenith Bank’s model.

First Bank in March 2020 came out with a feeble ‘non- denial denial’ of rumors of the merger, stating that: “recent events in the industry have thrown up Merger and Acquisition opportunities for Banks. Inorganic growth remains a strategic consideration…but will only be considered when it is value accretive to shareholders.”

At MoneyCentral, for now we can only say to our readers “stay tuned.”

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