Oba Otudeko returns as First Bank’s largest shareholder

Oba Otudeko’s Honeywell Group has reportedly bought the largest shares of First Bank of Nigeria Holdings Plc in a cross deal worth N87.8 billion.

The shares which Otudeko bought at N19 per unit are the largest volume of First Bank shares traded in a single day since 2012 when the stock exchange started publishing data, according to a report by Arise News.

The trade has ratcheted up allegations over the validity of the trades considering that no single shareholder hitherto officially owned as many shares.

Though a press release explaining the trade is yet to be released on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, a disclosure of shareholding sent to the Company Secretary, FBN Holdings Plc and dated July 7, 2023, by Honeywell Group Limited stated that Barbican Capital Limited owned by Otudeko’s children has acquired an aggregate of 4,770,269,843 shares in FBNH.

“This is to inform the public and our stakeholders that the Company received a notification dated July 7, 2023 from Honeywell Group Limited that its affiliate, Barbican Capital Limited has acquired an aggregate of 4,770,269,843 units of shares from the Company’s issued share capital of 35,895,292,791, as at the above-referenced date. Based on the foregoing, the equity stake of Barbican Capital Limited in the Company is 13.3%”, it reads.

The firm, on the same day, in a letter signed by Adewale Arogundade, Acting Company Secretary, acknowledged the acquisitions.

Otudeko, who was chairman of First Bank until 2019, is making a swift comeback to become the single largest shareholder of the bank.

Billionaire Femi Otedola became the bank’s single largest shareholder in 2021 after a tussle with Hassan Odukale who was also vying for control of the bank after a leadership gap emerged from Otudeko’s exit.

With Otudeko now leading the battle for the control of First Bank of Nigeria Holdings Plc with 14 per cent shareholding, Otedola drops to second with nine per cent shareholding. Hassan Odukale and Mike Adenuga are joint third, each with seven percent shareholding. Saheed Arisekole is fourth with a five percent shareholding.

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