The Managing Director of HFC Bank, Dr Asare Akuffo, has appealed to all shareholders, particularly the institutional ones, not to sell off their stakes in the bank.
Dr Akuffo said the bank had reached a high profitability growth rate so every shareholder should consequently expect an increase in profits.
He noted that the HFC Bank is a Ghanaian institution every Ghanaian should be proud of, and hoped this pride would enable the bank to have a significant Ghanaian holding, in spite of the mandatory takeover offer (MTO) by the Republic Bank Limited (RBL) of Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr Akuffo made these comments in an interaction with the media after the bank formally launched its 25th anniversary at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra.
Although HFC’s existence for the past 25 years has been very good, the future would be even better, he said.
“My advice to shareholders, especially institutional shareholders – both public and private – is that they must at this time hold on. This is not the time to share your shares because the hard work has brought us this far and from now onwards it is easy for the bank to make money,” he emphasized.
The RBL of Trinidad and Tobago submitted its mandatory acquisition offer document to HFC Bank (Ghana) Limited following approval of the offer circular by Ghana’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
This move was made possible after RBL paid ¢1 million for breaches of the Securities and SEC Takeover Code in the purchase of additional 23,638,340 shares of HFC Bank from Union Bank within a 12-month period.
Dr Akuffo believed Ghanaians have the choice now to decide whether they want to let go of their pride and heritage or to safely guard it.
“So it is for us as Ghanaians to decide whether HFC is an institution that we want to be part of going forward or we want to hand it over to others; the choice is for us, as Ghanaians and Ghanaian investors. The bank would go into foreign hands if they decide to sell; if they hold onto their shares despite this Monetary Take Over (MTO) process, the bank will still remain Ghanaian-owned,” he indicated.
Giving reasons to buttress his stance that institutional shareholders must not sell their shares, he said “in any case, with the Three-Tier Pension Scheme, there are investment funds available so it is possible for the ownership to go from Ghanaian to Ghanaian; it doesn’t have to go from Ghanaian to foreign. But it is a market transaction; the emphasis is on institutions like SSNIT that is owned by a pension fund whose decisions should be guided by national interest, I believe.”
Again “there is COCOBOD. HFC is operating in the cocoa-growing areas. We have purchased about six branches there. We have shown a commitment to the cocoa industry so I expect COCOBOD to stay in there.”
Lastly, “SIC, because of insurances relating to mortgages and home loans, I believe, would want to have a longer-term relationship with HFC.”
“So yes there is an MTO, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the bank will become a foreign bank,” Dr Akuffo explained.
He again urged the shareholders not to let go of their Ghanaian pride and heritage, since it has a great potential to perform even better in the coming years.
“Our 2014 results show that the performance of the bank was very good; 2013 results too was good. So we have reached that stage where income (profits) is going to grow in an exponential manner and I believe that our investors should commit to the future of the bank because that is what other investors have seen, and they are really very anxious to have a piece of the HFC cake.”
RBL has maintained its offer price at ¢1.60 per share, the same price that was offered last year in an attempt to acquire HFC Bank, which was challenged by some shareholders. The current offer represents an 18.5 per cent premium to the bank’s last trading price of ¢1.35 per share.
HFC Bank will now circulate the offer document to all shareholders in the next two weeks.
However, by the time the offer document is circulated to shareholders the market valuation of HFC Bank could have improved significantly to reduce the offer premium to less than 10 percent, which would make the offer unattractive to some shareholders, a recent analysis by Ecobank on the HFC Mandatory Acquisition stated.
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