The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, has been revealed as the alleged owner of controversial Titan Trust Bank, which acq
The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, has been revealed as the alleged owner of controversial Titan Trust Bank, which acquired Union Bank.
According to ENigeria Newspaper, the sudden rise of Titan Trust Bank, a relatively new banking brand with only two active offices in Lagos, Nigeria to the point of acquiring Union Bank Plc, a massive banking brand with a whopping significantly large asset size of about $4.9 billion (N2.59 trillion) according to its FY 2021 audited financial statements, remains a mystery and an algebra without mathematical solution.
Union Bank disclosed that the anticipated transaction in a corporate disclosure filed with the Nigerian Exchange on December 23rd, 2021, after its main investors decided to sell their 93.41 percent holdings.
Titan Trust Bank is barely three years, more so, the bank is just finding its feet in the highly competitive Nigerian banking industry. As such, some people wondered where it could possibly get funds to facilitate the planned acquisition, while others keenly waited to see whether the acquisition could actually come to fruition.
On June 6 2022, the African Export Import Ban (Afreximbank) announced that it had disbursed the sum of $300 million to help complement the total amount needed by Titan Trust Bank to finalise the acquisition of Union Bank. Afreximbank noted that the said fund was disbursed under its Intra-African Investment Financing Facility
But from all indications, it appears as if all the companies involved in the acquisition have not exactly disclosed how much it actually cost Titan Trust to acquire Union Bank as even with the $300 million from Afreximbank, a lot more money would have still been needed to facilitate the deal. And it’s most likely that Titan Trust secured funding from other sources besides Afreximbank which it deliberately refused to mention
Besides, a number of factors corroborates public opinion that Titan Trust Bank is favoured by an influential individual or persons whose vested interest is covertly hinged on the success of the bank.
The fact that Titan Trust Bank’s National Banking License is the first National Banking License that the Central Bank of Nigeria has granted in the last ten years since former Central Bank Governor Chukwuma Soludo enacted the N25 billion capitalization funds directive for National banks in Nigeria, is one of such factors that also warrants further investigation.
Also, there are strong indications that Emefiele who is also allegedly among the highest shareholders in Union Bank Plc may have played a major role in the acquisition of the bank’s shares by TTB.
TTB is reportedly, majority-owned by Tropical General Investment (TGI) Group, an investment firm allegedly linked to Emefiele with interests in a variety of businesses including FMCG, commodities, agriculture, Agric processing, pharmaceuticals, and oil field services, as well as real estate and trading.
According to reports, CHI Limited, the creator of the iconic Chivita products, was one of TGI’s most notable enterprises, which was finally sold to Coca-Cola in 2019.
In 2011, Union Bank was a group of seven firms, but it has since been reduced to only one commercial bank. Without recourse to the FGN, an entity. Where did all of the subsidiaries and/or other assets go? Who got what claim and on what conditions/approvals?
Faruk Gumel, the current Chairman of the National Security Agency (NSIA), a government agency, as well as a Group Executive Director with TGI, the majority stakeholder in Titan Bank, the new owners of Union Bank. Is this a transaction that falls under the definition of “arm’s length” as defined by Nigerian corporate governance.
Clearly, the fact that Titan Trust Bank, a small bank with only two bank branches in Lagos, can almost effortlessly swallow up Union Bank, a 104-year-old bank, in a transaction valued in the region of about $1 billion dollars or above, defies common sense and suggests a case of “the hand of Esau, but the voice of Jacob.”
Only Two weeks ago, it was announced that Atlas Mara and other core investors in Union have successfully finalised their proposed sale of 93.41% stake.
Following the acquisition, Titan Trust Bank quickly took over the 105-year-old bank, appointed new board members and replaced some top executives. And some people were really interested in knowing how the 3-year old bank pulled it off. Where did it get the money? Many had asked.
Emefiele, through one of his closest ally, Adaeze Udensi, perfected the groundworks for the establishment of Titan Trust Bank as well as its acquisition of Union Bank.
“Adaeze is positioned as the face of TTB for a reason. She was there from inception in 2019 and she has been a tool in the hand of Emefiele even right from her days at Zenith bank”, a source said.
Adaeze Udensi was the only Executive Director of Titan Trust Bank and wielded so much influence; more than the former Managing Director, Mudassir Amray, who stepped aside after the complete acquisition of Union Bank days back
Emefiele’s camp has continued to deny his participation with Titan Trust, but their evasive denial without adequate explanation is reminiscent of a similar situation that occurred when the CBN Governor’s desire to run for President in 2023 became exposed.