Changes At Merchant Bank

Management of Universal Merchant Bank (UMB), formerly Merchant Bank, has appointed John Awuah as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

He replaces Nilla Selormey who takes a new role of advising UMB on its international expansion drive.

Until his appointment, Awuah worked with the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) where he was the Finance Director/Chief Finance Officer.

It was gathered that Nilla Selormey and her deputy quit after a boardroom wrangling which was affecting the bank’s operations, leading to a dissolution of the board.

A source at the bank told DAILY GUI DE that Ms Selormey, the MD, was forced to quit barely 10 months after UMB was rebranded.

In the case of the deputy MD, he was only offered a one-year contract but all attempts to have it renewed have been turned down by Fortiz, the majority shareholders in UMB.

Fortiz had wanted to pay the MD and her deputy by itself and not from proceeds of the bank. Other shareholders had said that was bad but Fortiz claimed that it employed the two managers and only loaned them to the bank.

DAILY GUIDE also learnt that there are questions about shareholding structure, with speculations that some foreigners have shown interest in acquiring stakes in the bank.

The source revealed further that ever since Fortiz took charge of the bank as the largest shareholder of UMB, it has invested only GH¢40 million which entitles it to 40 percent shares.

Both SIC Life and SSNIT are entitled to 10 percent shares with their joint contribution of GH¢10 million to the bank’s share capital.

With the afore-stated explanation, the bank would be left with 40 percent shares to float to either the public or other investors who are interested.

But Fortiz has continued to cling onto the remaining 40 percent shares without making way for other investors; neither has it provided the remaining GH¢40 million to entitle it to its claims and allow for the smooth operation of the bank.

The Bank of Ghana is said to have convened a series of meetings among the shareholders of the bank to settle the issue and allow for other investors to own part of the bank but Fortiz has refused to let go of the remaining stake.

According to sources, some Caucasians were seen at the Airport head office of the bank, with speculations that they were there possibly for feasibility studies to acquire shares.

At an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) held last week, Fortiz stated that it was going to invest an additional GH¢20 million to make up part-payment of the 40 percent shares and go for a bank loan to defray the rest of the shares but shareholders instantly shot down the idea.

At the EGM, Fortiz brought in some people as its new board members and used their numbers to form a pool.

The board, whose membership was nine, was diluted to 13 to decide on matters.

The board has since been dissolved with only one person still left intact.

New MD Role
The new MD will now spearhead the drive to make UMB achieve greater strides.

The bank intends to deploy more ATMs to bring its total to over 90 nationwide, complete three more state-of-the-art branches in Osu, Airport and East Legon and add three additional MTOs (Trans-fast, Unity Link, Oasis) to its portfolio to enhance remittance business.

UMB’s expansion drive in 2015 includes a continued quest to upgrade for efficiency and growth.

It relocated its Head Office to the SSNIT Emporium Building at Airport, refurbished nine existing branches, added six brand new branches including state-of-the-art branches in Airport, Labone and Junction Mall.

By Samuel Boadi

[email protected]

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