Union Bank not acquired by proxies, funded with Afrexim loan, others – TGI

Tropical General Investment Group, the majority owner of Titan Trust and Union Banks has denied any wrongdoing in the acquisition of the latter by the former.

This was as it stated that the purported investigative report recommending the takeover of the banks by the Federal Government portrayed Nigeria negatively.

The company’s explanation was in response to the report of the special investigation into the activities of the CBN and other related entities by the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee.

The final report, submitted to President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday, accused the immediate past Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, of using ill-gotten wealth to acquire Union Bank and Keystone Bank through proxies.

But the Head of Corporate Communications, Rafiat Gawat, in a statement on Sunday, said the $500m capital used to pay for the transaction was transparent and unimpeachable and was managed by highly reputed global financial institutions including Rothschild and Citibank. She added that the process took years to complete.

The statement read in part, “We want to categorically state that some of the assumptions made in the purported document were incorrect, thereby resulting in a conclusion that may not necessarily reflect the actual reality.

“The purported investigation report recommended that the Federal Government should take over the banks. Such declarations based on incorrect assumptions portray Nigeria negatively, especially when the President is tirelessly seeking and courting foreign investments into the country.

“The true facts of the case are as follows: Tropical General Investment Group is the majority owner of Titan Trust and Union Bank. We have been doing business in Nigeria for close to 45 years and have evolved into one of the largest companies in West Africa and the acquisition of Union Bank by Titan Trust Bank followed all the laid down rules and regulations.

“The approximately $500m capital used to pay for the transaction was transparent and unimpeachable. The entire transaction was managed by highly reputed global financial institutions, including Rothschild and Citibank. And like most major acquisitions, the process took years to complete.”

According to her, the rest of the capital was sourced from the proceeds of TGI’s sales of its Chi Limited business to Coca-Cola, all to finance the acquisition of Union Bank.

“A $300m loan was sourced from African Export-Import Bank and the rest of the capital was sourced from the proceeds of TGI’s sales of its Chi Limited business to Coca-Cola, all to finance the acquisition of Union Bank.”

Debunking claims that the bank didn’t respond to enquiries, Gawat explained, “The investigator’s claim that Union Bank did not respond to his request for information was misleading as all the information requested was submitted on September 1, 2023.  It’s a well-known fact that Mr Vink, who has been in Nigeria since 1978, is an elderly person and has recently been medically advised to limit his movements. This was duly communicated to the investigator with supporting documents.

“TGI’s capital, ownership and selling of Chi to a multinational such as Coca cola is proof that Mr Vink is not a proxy. The group’s ability to engage and work with reputable international financial advisors and bankers attests to the group’s global credibility. Union Bank was not owned by government and no government money (CBN or AMCON) was used to buy it. The process was diligently followed as captured in the report of the investigator.”

The bank urged its customers, shareholders, and stakeholders to remain calm as it would do everything legal to ensure that the current misunderstanding was clarified.

“As responsible corporate citizens, we are always willing, ready, and able to support stakeholders including regulators to learn and understand our Group and its operations,” the statement concluded.

(Punch)

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