Posted: Friday 9th May 2014 at 15:11 pm

Republic Bank Explains It All

By A.R. Gomda

By A.R. Gomda



Ms. Jacqueline Quamina
By the time the curtains were drawn over an evening engagement between management of the Republic Bank and a section of the media last Wednesday in Accra, Jacqueline Quamina, Group General Counselor/Corporate Secretary, had painted an insightful picture about the institution’s forage into Ghana so far.

She discounted absolutely any suggestion that Republic Bank was given any special concession by government because of an interest it had in the bank’s operation in the country.

‘We did as required by law. We satisfied Bank of Ghana (BoG) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requirements. There was no government involvement. None at all. We also had a clean bill of health from the Central Bank in Trinidad & Tobago,’ she said in response to a question.

She told her guests that their investment in Ghana was not informed by the government’s direct invitation to do so but due to other factors.

The Republic Bank’s merger with HFC has become topical in recent times especially as the latter contemplates going to court over whether a complete takeover is a legitimate course.

Being a dominant financial institution in the Caribbean, the Republic Bank came to Ghana after considering factors such as the commonness of lingua franca and even heritage.

Trinidad & Tobago is peopled by descendants of people taken away from the Gold Coast. Jacqueline Quamina’s surname is without doubt a Fanti name. Her ancestor was able to maintain his name became he landed after the abolishing of slavery.

‘It was the IFC which pointed at Ghana to us. We surveyed sub-Saharan African and decided on Ghana. Ghana fits the bill’ she said.

As the dominant bank in the Caribbean Republic Bank has a capital adequacy ratio of over 35%, including an annual profit margin of $118m after tax with shareholders receiving 60% as dividend, she said.

With such a healthy performance we could not resist the need to expand beyond our current locations and where else than Ghana, she said.

In 2012, she said there was an exchange of visits between HFC and Republic Bank representatives and after due diligence both sides were convinced about a successful business deal.

Republic Bank, she stated, is convinced that a takeover code has been triggered as required by existing law, the subject of the controversy stoked by shareholders of HFC bank, including the Managing Director.

In 2012, Republic Bank Limited bought its set of shares in HFC worth $8m under a private placement arrangement increasing the stake to 32.02 percent after buying 23.23 percent additional shares previously held by Aureos Africa Fund LLC.

As demanded by Securities and Exchange Commission regarding takeovers and mergers, the Republic Bank was required to make an offer to HFC shareholders given its new status.

A new chapter was opened in the litany of challenges when a futile application for a waiver regarding the exemption from the requirement to make a compulsory takeover offer to the remaining shares to HFC was made by the Republic Bank to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Earlier on a CitiFM business platform, she said, ‘The regulatory system in Ghana has a process which is fair and it’s the same in most countries. It states that where you have more than 30 percent you trigger a code and it gives smaller shareholders the chance to exit. So why should we interfere by going to court, it’s unfair, we must allow the shareholders to make up their minds,’ she said.

On whether Alex Mould, the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) had been penciled for a top position in the bank her answer was a ‘no answer.’

She however explained that ‘Republic Bank’s modules rely on strong local boards.’

On the yet-to-be-resolved impasse, she said ‘we hope they would accept us as a major shareholder.’

By A.R. Gomda
 

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