The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has cleared the air on why it changed the defunct Skye Bank’s name to Polaris Bank, even as its board, management and staff remain the same.
It would be recalled that the CBN had last week Friday revoked the operating license of Skye Bank Plc. after its shareholders failed to recapitalise the bank, and appointed a bridge bank – Polaris Bank – to assume all the assets and liabilities of the defunct bank.
Under the new arrangement, the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) will inject a sum of N786 billion into the bank to bring the total net asset to zero. This, according to Emefiele, would stabilise the bank and return it to the path of profitability for the purpose of selling it to interested investors.
The development was greeted with mixed reactions, as some Nigerians criticised CBN over the assignment of a different name for Skye Bank, suggesting that Skye Bank could have retained its name with AMCON’s capital injection.
But the CBN Governor while fielding questions from journalists on Tuesday at the end of two-day Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja said it was important for the regulator to change the name of the bank for legal reasons.
He said since the government and the CBN had invested a total of N786 billion into the bank, the bank must be owned by the CBN pending when AMCON would stabilise and bring in new investors to buy it.
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“The name had to change for legal reasons, having gotten to the point where the CBN and government had invested close to N800 billion in this bank. At some point, it must be seen to be owned by the CBN until we find investors that can pay a fair price in this enterprise,” Emefiele said.
On allegations that the details of Polaris Bank were not found on Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)’s website, prompting insinuations that the company was not registered as required by law, the CBN Governor said the insinuations were false and cannot be substantiated.
Emefiele pointed out that all necessary registrations had been concluded by the enterprise before it was declared as the bridge bank to take over from Skye Bank last Friday.
According to him, “the bank was first of all registered as a limited liability company few weeks ago, and was registered as a bank on Friday.”
He noted that it was possible for the authorities involved in the registration of companies to have failed to update their online platforms. “If that server that they are looking at is not updated, it does not mean that this bank – Polaris Bank – was not incorporated,” he added.
Emefiele urged the public to focus on the real issue, which he said, was the apex bank’s resolve to keep the banks alive, protect depositors’ monies, and also ensure that the over 5,000 staff of the defunct Skye Bank are not thrown into the labour market.
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