A week after Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola sealed his position as the largest shareholder in Nigeria’s oldest bank, First Bank of Nigeria Holdings Limited (FBNH), the chairman of the institution, Remi Babalola has retired from his position.
As the new majority shareholder in the bank, experts believe Otedola may soon take over the helm as chairman, or directly exercise some level of control over the administration of the bank.
This opinion was rebuffed by the billionaire, who stated that he does not have any interest in assuming the role of chairman of the holding, or its subsidiaries. Many, however, conjecture that he does not necessarily need to take up that role, as he can appoint someone on his behalf.
Coincidentally, days after his claims, the incumbent chairman resigned from his position.
Babalola, a former Nigerian finance minister, was appointed as chairman in April following the sacking of the former chairman, Oba Otudeko.
Babalola’s resignation came after the Nigerian billionaire acquired the additional share package in the leading financial services group.
In an effort to sustain the bank’s operations as a going concern, the bank appointed Alhaji Ahmad Abdullahi as the new chairman.
Recent media reports revealed that Otedola cemented his position as the largest shareholder in FBNH after he acquired another 898,730,515 shares in the holding, raising his total stake to 7.57 percent.
Experts and observers on the Nigerian capital market believe that the billionaire spent about N31.8 billion ($77.4 million) to acquire the majority stake in the bank.
The acquisition comes weeks after a dispute surfaced over who is the largest shareholder in the tier-1 lender.
Tunde Hassan-Odukale, First Bank’s chairman and the managing director of Leadway Assurance Company, had claimed to be the largest shareholder in the bank, although his claims were later refuted by the National Pension Commission.