Finance

Union warns new owners of Polaris Bank against staff retrenchment

“The entity in question, Fairview Acquisition Partners, had indicated an interest in acquiring two banks, including Polaris Bank, for a total sum of N1.2tn, an indicative offer which significantly discounted the existing N1.31tn debt owed by Polaris Bank to AMCON and so represented a material loss to the Federal Government. “Notwithstanding, along with 24 other parties, Fairview Acquisition Partners was invited by the financial advisors to participate in the sale process via the execution of a non-disclosure agreement, the first stage of the process.” He added that the financial advisors informed the committee that Fairview Acquisition Partners neither executed nor returned the NDA despite verbally confirming receipt of the agreement and after follow-up from the financial advisors. ‘Therefore, Fairview Acquisition Partners did not take the opportunity to update their offer by participating in the divestment process and thus did not make a binding purchase offer for Polaris Bank,” he said. According to him, the divestment was executed based on the relevant laws, global best practices for bank resolutions, and requisite regulatory approvals. He said the committee, along with its legal and financial advisers, conducted a rigorous technical and financial evaluation of the purchase proposals, assessing promoters’ fitness and propriety, offer price received vs. reserve price, funding structure and financial capacity, strategy and growth plans, among others.

The National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) has urged the new owners of Polaris Bank to ensure that the jobs of the existing staff are secured.

The union made the call in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Mr Sheikh Muhammed, on Sunday, following the recent sale of the bank.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Asset Management Company of Nigeria had on Oct. 20 announced the sale of Polaris Bank to Strategic Capital Investment Limited.

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday okayed the sale of Polaris Bank, noting that the acquisition followed laid down procedure and the relevant presidential approval.

‘’As a Union, we insist on the right thing to be done, even as we are prepared to defend the rights of our members in any eventuality arising therefrom.

‘’Whoever comes onboard at Polaris Bank must be prepared to treat existing staff with utmost care and guarantee of their job security and continuity which is the only sure way of ensuring industrial peace and harmony across the entire bank and its operations, ‘’ Muhammed said.

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The secretary general expressed reservation at the manner in which the bank was sold and sought more transparency.

He also expressed dismay that the workers were not informed about the sale of the bank.

‘’Any claims of adherence to due process which excludes workers and their representative, as well as the general public, fades away in the face of reason and, cannot be seen to be transparent.

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‘’It was a matter of regret that workers who are critical factors and stakeholders were not informed either directly or through their Union representatives about the Sale of the bank, in which most have served and still serving the bank for most of their prime years, but unfortunately, are not recognised as important enough to be informed about the sale of their workplace, ‘’ he said.

According to him, the union will discuss more on the matter at its forthcoming National Executive Council meeting.(NAN)

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