Two individual shareholders of the HFC Bank have filed a legal action to challenge the takeover of the Bank by Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.
In an ex-parte motion filed at the Commercial Division of the High Court, the shareholders are asking the Courts to intervene to save HFC, described by the shareholders as a profitable Ghanaian Bank, from being taken over by foreigners.
The shareholders, Mr. Kwasi Asante and Mr. Alfred Bortey, of Accra and Tema respectively, contend that there is already too much foreign interest in the financial services sector in Ghana and are worried that nobody seems to care to support the indigenous Ghanaian industry.
Already, the High Court in Accra will on June 23, rule to determine whether or not an action brought to Court by the HFC Bank against the Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and the Security and Exchange Commission for an interlocutory injunction to halt the process of a takeover of the HFC Bank should be struck out. Lawyers for the Bank from South America want the action dismissed so Republic Bank can take over the Ghanaian Bank.
HFC Bank has an impressive growth history, recording significant profits in the past. It is also the leading bank in the mortgages area and many Ghanaians, both home and abroad, have owned their homes through facilities provided by HFC. Many more Ghanaians are still looking to secure their own homes through HFC and it is feared that a hostile takeover of the Bank could undermine the expectations of Ghanaians in the mortgages services sector.
According to the plaintiffs, a number of reputable foreign Banks have operated in the country over many decades and have contributed their best towards national development. The question most people ask however is about how far Ghanaians want foreign participation in the country’s banking industry to go.
‘Majority of Banks, 14 out of the 26 Banks operational in Ghana, are foreign owned. Sixty percent of banking assets are in the hands of the 14 foreign banks. The largest Bank in Ghana, Ecobank, is foreign owned. Out of the top five banks (by assets) only GCB appears as a distant second. This situation does not exist in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Kenya and many others. Why can’t we build our own institutions? Why play second fiddle in our own country?,’ the plaintiffs contended.
‘We can bet that Republic Bank has come to Ghana with the enthusiastic support of their country’s Central Bank and their other State institutions. The question is – which of our institutions are supporting HFC at this time?’, they demanded.
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