By Lukman Olabiyi
A A group of lawyers have threatened to challenge the recent acquisition of 89.39% of the capital of Union Bank Plc by Titan Trust Bank Limited in court.
Union Bank Plc and Titan Trust Bank had announced on December 23, 2021 that Global Partners Limited, Atlas Mara Limited, major investors and other shareholders had agreed with Titan Trust Bank to sell and transfer their stake in the country’s second oldest bank to Titan Confidence.
But at a press conference in Lagos, lawyers led by Adedotun Makinde, SAN and Dr. Charles Mekwunye, SAN, criticized the transaction, saying it was strange that a private bank that had neither published its account nor broken even in the corporate world would suddenly buy one of the oldest banks in the country.
Insisting that the transaction was not only in breach of several sections of the Companies and Related Matters Act 2020, CAMA, including section 342(2), the lawyers noted that the sale and transfer of shares from Union Bank to Titan Trust Bank were a flagrant abuse of financial regulation.
They said: “Everything is going wrong with the transfer from Union Bank to Titan Bank and as stakeholders if we do nothing a lot will go wrong. Many Nigerians will lose their jobs. We know from our vast experience in the industry that if a small bank swallows a big bank, the losses will be huge.
“We are also surprised that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has not looked into this transaction to find out where such a large sum of money came from to buy Union Bank. We know that if the right questions are asked, this transaction will not proceed, so we will use the instrument of the law to ensure the right thing is done.
As part of the legal proceedings to stop the Union Bank/Titan Bank transaction, the lawyers wrote separate letters addressed to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Managing Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requiring full details of the transaction.
In a letter to the CBN dated March 14, 2022, signed by Mr. Adedokun Makinde, SAN, titled “Illegal Sale and Transfer of Majority Shares of Union Bank to Titan Bank Limited and Violation of the CBN Corporate Governance Code for Banks and Discount Houses and other Statutory Laws,” the attorneys asked for the date of the sale and transfer of all actions of Union (United) Global Partners Limited and Atlas Mara Limited have been consummated on the trading floor of the Nigerian Exchange Limited as required by Section 106(4) of the Investment and Securities Act 2007.
The letter also requested details/reports of the sale of shares of Union (United) Global Partners Limited and Atlas Mara Limited in Union Bank of Nigeria to Titan Trust Bank limited in the apex bank file.