•CBN, BPE sign sale instrument for 12.69bn shares
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) yesterday in Abuja signed an instrument for the sale of 12.69 billion shares, representing 21 per cent of federal government’s interest in the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) to CBN.
The deal is expected to contribute a net sum of over N17 billion to national treasury.
With the signing of the instrument, 12.69billion federal government interest in the NSPMC will be transferred to the CBN.
The instrument was signed in the State House by the CBN Governor, Chief Godwin Emefiele and the Director-General of BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, at a meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is also the Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Osinbajo said the decision to divest 21 percent public interest in NSPMC was necessitated by the need to guarantee a synergy between the public and private sectors on projects that require cutting-edge technology.
He said, “Security printing has taken new dimensions; it is no longer what it used to be. As a matter of fact, there are those who think that today there is more of technology than merely security printing.
“If you look at some of the cards that are being printed today, that in the chips are not just security they are actually technological assets. So, there are new assets and there are new dimensions and there are new ideas and it’s just the privates sector that can really be at the cutting edge of technology and innovation,” Osinbajo said.
According to the vice-president, no fewer than 140 publicly-owned companies had been privatised in the past 30 years, adding that the federal government has been divesting its interests from companies with a view to enabling their management by experts.
He also submitted that divesting government interests from its companies was also predicated on the decision to ensure that the government only plays regulatory roles while the private sector runs the businesses.
“Government should stick to its regulatory role and its incentivising role and allow the private sector to do business, allow the private sector to take the risk where possible,” Osinbajo said.
He added that the CBN and its technical partner, De La Rue, which he described as the private company in the deal, would bring the required innovation into the NSPMC.
Also speaking at the meeting, Emefiele described NSPMC as an asset which had the capacity to produce currency not only for Nigeria but also for the entire West African sub-region.
He also said this fresh move would enable the company to produce sensitive security documents for both the federal government and private companies.
According to the CBN governor, the current move would involve aggressive marketing that would enable the NSPMC to produce currency for other important stakeholders, pointing out that the capacity of the company will also be enhanced to produce documents such as digital Nigerian passport.
“The capacity of the mint has increased and expanded and it now produces all the currency that is needed in the country. The mint capacity has been expanded to where it has idle capacity that can produce for other ECOWAS countries.
“We intend to embark on aggressive marketing to see to it that not only produces for itself but also produces for other important stakeholders that may require its services in the area of currency printing.
“In the area of security document, we are working assiduously given the fact that the mint has in the past produced passports and produced visas and other very sensitive security documents. Our next phase is to see to it that the NSPMC eventually begins the printing of the digital Nigerian passport,” he said.
In his own earlier submission, Director-General of BPE, told the meeting that CBN’s strategic investment in printing and minting company had been a success, arguing that the apex bank had achieved its goal of repositioning the company and returning it to profitability.
While commending the progress level recorded by NSPMC under the strategic engagement of CBN, Okoh added that the federal government was handing over to CBN, a company with tremendous potential to achieve significant growth.
Okoh who disclosed that the transaction which was conceived to contribute a net sum of over N17 billion to the treasury, narrated how the CBN announced its interest to acquire the NSPMC and how BPE moved to formalise the proposal.
“Following the expiration of the strategic investment period, the CBN indicated its strong intention to acquire the company on an arm’s length basis, noting the sensitive nature of the security printing and minting services rendered by the company which include immigration and electoral materials.
“Accordingly, after a careful consideration of the pertinent issues, the Bureau made a proposal to the NCP to formalise the sale of 21 per cent of the federal government’s interest in the company to the CBN whilst government would retain an equity holding of 10.1 per cent,” Okoh stated.