By Goddy Egene
The Chairman of Skye Bank Plc, Mr. M.K. Ahmad has said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did not take over the bank but only intervened to correct observed corporate governance issues under the old board.
The CBN last Monday removed the former board of the bank led by Tunde Ayeni as chairman and Timothy Oguntayo, managing director and appointed a new board with Ahmad as chairman. The central bank also appointed Mr. Tokunbo Abiru as group managing director/chief executive officer of the bank.
Addressing stockbrokers on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) last Friday, Ahmad said the ownership of the bank remained in the hands of the shareholders, stressing that the CBN does not own the bank and has not taken over the bank.
According to him, CBN was fully behind the bank and would support it to fully stabilise.
Ahmad, a former Director General of the National Pension Commission, re-assured the bank’s stakeholders that the bank was not distressed but only had corporate governance issues under the old board. He said the bank’s fundamentals remain strong and that it remains one of Nigeria’s leading and retail banks.
Also, the MD/CEO, Abiru, said the management team and the board would work to achieve value enhancement for shareholders, customers and other stakeholders by bringing the cost-income ratio to acceptable levels, improve the risk assets quality and work towards increasing the liquidity and capital adequacy of the bank.
Abiru described the reconstitution of the bank’s board as an intervention, saying the lender’s fundamentals are good and strong.
Apart from Ahmad and Abiru, other other members of the reconstituted Board are Bayo Sanni, Idris Yakubu, Markie Idowu and Abimbola Izu, all of whom were serving in the Executive Director capacity of the bank prior to now.
Speaking on the intervention last week, CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said the central bank took what he described as a proactive step in order to save the health of the bank from further deteriorating.
To correct the anomalies in the bank, he said the CBN had several meetings with the management and board of Skye Bank as part of its strategy of close engagement whenever a bank’s financial or governance situation poses potential threats to the overall stability of the financial system.
Emefiele said despite the expectation of the relevant regulators, market watchers, financial analysts and interested stakeholders, Skye Bank should have been doing much better, but what was evident was the opposite.
Given the aforementioned issues and the fact that Skye Bank is a domestic Systematically Important Bank (SIB) with significant interconnectedness, he said the CBN would be failing in its duty if it did not take immediate action to nip the steadily declining health of the bank in the bud and correct the situation.
Emefiele said in view of the long grace period allowed the bank to correct the situation, the central bank came to the conclusion that, although the existing board had done its best to steer the ship, it was clear that it would be unable to bring the bank out of its present precarious situation.
He said: “Fortunately, and in the overall interest of the bank, the chairman and some board members have decided to resign their appointments from the bank. Consequently, by virtue of the powers vested in the Governor of the CBN, we have decided to reconstitute the board and management of the bank, and appoint new members with the sole responsibility of ensuring the speedy restoration of the health of the bank.”