The Central Bank of The Gambia announced on 9 August that Bank PHB (Gambia) Limited has been taken over by Keystone Bank Nigeria Limited with effect from 6 August 2011, although it did not advance any reason for the sudden takeover. Bank PHB Nigeria Limited, the parent company of Bank PHB in The Gambia, is one of the three banks that are at the brink of collapse as a result the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has revoked there banking licenses. The revocation of the banking licenses of Bank PHB, Afribank, and Spring Bank came as the CBN firmly believes that the three banks will not able to meet the September 30 deadline given to them to recapitalise. The CBN stated: “Those three banks could not have met the deadline for the recapitalisation of the banks. Since the banks could not have met the deadline, there was no point in prolonging the situation.” Following the revocation of their licenses, the Nigerian government through the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) announced that it has taken over the three banks by incorporating what it calls Bridge Bank to temporarily take control of the banks. The government created three bridge banks in the name of Mainstreet Bank, Keystone Bank, and Enterprise Bank to take over the assets and liabilities of the banks in the interim.
Keystone Bank take over Bank PHB
A bridge bank is a temporary bank established and operated by financial regulators to acquire the assets and liabilities of a failed bank to facilitate its resolution. The action represents an important milestone in the process of stabilising the Nigerian banking sector and enables these banks to move forward with a more certain future and bring to closure the banking crisis that started in 2008 in Nigeria. Like the Central Bank of The Gambia, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation assures depositors that their funds are safe, and employees of the affected banks that there jobs are secure even though new management is set to take over the daily running of the bridge banks. Local Nigerian newspapers reported that “independent and credible persons with significant and required experience” have been identified to fill the boards and senior management positions of the banks. However, the new managements may likely set up their own policy, which aims to manage the banks to establish strong market positions and effectively compete in the Nigerian banking sector. This may involve sacking and redundancy and hiring new personnel but the Central Bank of The Gambia says the change of ownership would have no bearing on the operations of Bank PHB Gambia Limited since it is a “locally incorporated entity”. The Nigerian government has reiterated that it was very obvious the affected banks were having difficulties pulling through the re-capitalisation exercise. It said the step was in line with the Nigerian government’s commitment in not allowing any bank to “go under”. This is one method of trying to ensure the banks are salvaged, the Nigerian Finance Minister, Dr Yerima Lawan Ngama says, since ‘bridge bank’ ownership is one of the methods of salvaging a sinking or problem bank. To keep the financial system intact, the Central Bank of Nigeria, as the principal promoter of a sound financial system in Nigeria, and as required under the NDIC Act, therefore decided to issue banking licences to the ‘bridge banks’ taking over the affected banks.
Sale of the banks
Local newspapers in Nigeria said that NDIC had recently sold the bridge banks to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a subscription agreement. By the subscription agreement, AMCON has become the owner of the three banks and will provide sufficient capital to restore the banks to the level of capital adequacy required for their operations. AMCON will recapitalise the banks, manage them for about three years, before finding new investors, the sources say. According to AMCON, N678 billion would be injected into the three new banks to raise their capital adequacy ratio to 15 per cent as well as to enable them to pay back the funds that the CBN injected into them in 2009. An official of AMCON is quoted as saying they would issue bonds to raise the funds to pay back the CBN. AMCON said N285 billion would be given to Mainstreet Bank (formerly Afribank), N283 billion to Keystone Bank (formerly Bank PHB Plc) and N110 billion to Enterprise Bank (formerly Spring Bank).