“If there is anybody with a better judgment of issues in the NPP, it will be President Kufuor and if despite all the noise the NPP made about Merbank sale, the former President was invited and he went then perhaps it shows he was not in favour of the noise being made by the NPP over the sale of the bank…,” says Deputy General Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Kofi Adams.
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor and his then Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani, stepped on the wrong foot of some members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) by accepting to grace the re-branding of Merchant Bank.
Universal Merchant Bank, as the rebranded bank is now known, was acquired by Fortiz amidst a wave of opposition and uproar from the NPP, on whose ticket Mr Kufuor became President.
The Minority NPP petitioned Parliament to probe the sale. The Minority, at the time, wondered why the Government turned down ‘better’ deals in favour of Fortiz. They suspected fraud in the whole transaction.
South African bank, First Rand had offered to pay 200m cedis for 75 per cent shares in Merchant Bank but the bid was dismissed in favour of the Fortiz bid.
Civic Society group, the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy also resisted the transaction in court, with its Executive Director, Andrew Awuni describing it as a dash. But the transaction went through nonetheless.
Fortiz acquired 90% of Merchant Bank for Ghc90 million. Erstwhile majority shareholder, Social Security and National Insurance Trust, (SSNIT), offloaded the shares to the private investor and now retains the minority shares.
But Mr Kufuor and Kwadwo Mpiani’s decision to grace the occasion of the rebranding of Merchant Bank, now Universal Merchant Bank, has ruffled many feathers within the NPP.
Some members of the NPP are seeking audience with the ex-president to find out the reasons why he attended the ceremony. They describe Mr Kufuor’s decision to participate in the programme as a stab in the back and direct endorsement of the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Equity Fund.
Contributing to panel discussion on Friday’s edition of Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’, Kofi Adams suggested that perhaps former President Kufuor was not happy with the position of the NPP during the transaction and that was why he graced the occasion.
“There are many things I do not support President Kufour for but after he left office, there are quite a number of things he has done which is earning more respect for him…and his gracing the re-branding function shows his good sense of judgement…,” he said.