Business News of Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Parties involved in the HFC bank EGM postponement saga have hinted to Citi Business News they may settle the case out of courts.
The bank’s EGM which was scheduled to be held, today was on Friday cancelled for the third time due to a stay of execution filed at the Appeals Court by a shareholder of the bank.
This is the second time that shareholder has hit the courts to get the EGM, which was requisitioned by SSNIT suspended.
An Accra high court on Monday February 9, 2015 dismissed his application for stay of execution on the grounds that his lawyer had no valid lawyers’ Annual License to practice in Ghana at the time of filing his first stay of execution something he has denied.
He subsequently filed for an appeal at the Appeal court last week to stop the meeting from being held. HFC bank prior to the court case had affirmed it will go ahead to organize the much anticipated Extraordinary General Meeting.
A letter from the bank to its shareholders said the EGM will be held at the Christ the King Parish Hall at eleven o’clock on 17th February, 2015. The agenda for the EGM according to the bank is to remove three directors– Charles Ofori – Acquah, Muriel Edusei and Francis Koranteng with immediate effect.
The EGM is also to elect three directors Ebenezer Tetteh Tagoe, Paul King Aryene and Victoria Emeafa Hardcastle. Speaking in an interview with Citi Business News lawyer for SSNIT Peter Hayibor admitted the court case was having a negative impact on the operations of the bank.
“You know that from the word go we started the process of engaging and discussing to find a solution that would be acceptable, that was the way we started it. We do not have any difficulty with that because we did not go to court in the first place, we only think we need to protect our investments and investments are not protected through litigation.
so that was why we started in engaging each other in the matter, so any talking to discuss the issue and get to a position where we will all be comfortable and have a supervisory board that will supervise and manage our investments, that we don’t have any problem with’.
He adds that they may seek an out of court settlement on the matter. ‘Mind you, you cannot continue with those things forever now you are in the court of Appeal, next place will be the Supreme Court and that ends it. So you can’t prevent shareholders from meeting. So it is better to sit and have reason and resolve the issues, broaden the representation of the board to have supervisory role over management and then we are all comfortable and move on.”He said.
But lawyer for the shareholder Robert Yartey told Citi Business News SSNIT and the other defendants must make an offer to settle the case out of court.
‘“A settlement is always open I mean we cannot go and ask them to settle, why will we sue you and come to you to settle then why did we sue in the first place. It is because of the difficulties in getting the settlement that is why we sued, so it is they who have to make the offer because a settlement is just not a settlement but the person whom you have made the claim will say instead of me fighting you I will like to settle’. He said.
He adds ‘I don’t go and say I would like to settle after suing you, they will have to say am prepared to throw in the towel upon these conditions. So if they want to settle our doors are open and if the conditions are agreeable there is a settlement if not we leave it to the court.” He Stressed.
Meanwhile a former deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana Aseidu Mantey has encouraged the parties in the case to consider an out of court settlement and use the boardroom to settle their differences.
‘Because the shareholder is exercising his right as a shareholder, I don’t know the number of shares he/she holds in the bank. It appears he/she holds a substantial hold on the shares of the bank and he is exercising it in which case he is disrupting business and if he is disrupting business shareholders and customers will lose confidence in the bank. And it is not surprising to see that the value of the shares on the stock market is dropping that is the consequences of confusion arising in the boardroom among shareholders and going to court’.
According to him ‘one needs to know the right of the shareholders and the motive for doing that, because as a shareholder you also have interest in the bank. And a shareholder’s interest is for the bank to do well so you can get dividends. So if he has taken this action which is affecting the bank then he must have some kind of good reason.”