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A Scramble for Controlling Interest in Nigeria’s Oldest Bank

In October last year billionaire Femi Otedola quietly acquired stakes worth N30bn in Nigeria’s oldest and biggest financial institution by assets, First Bank of Nigeria Holdings, in an attempt to control a majority stake. Controlling over 5% of the company shares, it seemed Otedola had become the single largest shareholder of the bank, wielding the powers to become the chairman and influence the direction of the bank through his voting power. This wasn’t the case as the bank, through its secretary, Seye Kosoko, revealed that the chairman, Tunde Hassan-Odukale, had majority shareholding. The statement revealed that the chairman controlled 5.36% of the bank’s shares (as against Otedola’s rumoured 5.07%) through direct, indirect and third-party shareholding in the holdco. Towards the end of the year, in what seemed like a move to assert his authority as the undisputed largest shareholder, Otedola reportedly acquired at least 2.5% additional equity in the company to take his total stake to 7.57%.