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Sanusi interview

by Business News Report

By Omoh Gabriel & Michael Eboh
My own preference I have said is that I would prefer a strong Nigerian institution that would acquire these banks. In the event of a foreign bank coming in, I would prefer a bank that is willing to share ownership with Nigerians, not a bank that want 100 per cent, I would prefer that have already shown interest and commitment prior to now, to one that is just trying to come in now, if its possible, if they are more than one foreign banks, I would like to see diversification, to ensure that they are not coming from one geographical region, these are the broad guidelines that are given.
I have made it very clear that we want an institution, we are not looking for money, because we can raise the money. People can raise money from various means, like through money laundering — people who have stolen money and have gone to hide it and now want to use it to buy shares, money can be raised by anybody.
What we want are people who are not just bringing in money alone, but people who are bringing in government, structure and the ability to run the bank and to manage it. So, I have not said I do not care.
The biggest banks in Nigeria will for a very long time, certainly, remain in the hands of Nigerians.

All this noise about foreign acquisition that are being made by people, how many foreign banks have the money today to acquire a Nigerian banks? The world is experiencing an economic meltdown.
If I am in a position where I want to attract certain institutions, why would I want to close a door before it is opened. Open it up, let us see how many people are interested in these banks. At that spot where you think you are spoilt for choice, then you can start allocating. There is no need, then, announcing upfront that you do not want foreigners. What would happen, if foreigners don’t come and there is no capital in Nigeria, are you willing to have the government nationalise these banks?
The minister of finance said if money did not come in, we will have to convert our money to shares, they now said the minister said that it want to nationalise the banks.
We have issued guideline on how things should be and we are going to allow these banks talk to their advisers.
However, we have a very good idea on how we want the industry to look like. We are not going to allow a bank, for instance, to be more than 20 per cent of the market. And I need to say this upfront, so, if a First Bank or a United Bank Africa or Zenith Bank want to acquire Union Bank, we will not agree. We can not have a bank at 25 or 30 per cent of the market. We have an idea of what kind of institutions we want to come in, we have an idea of what kind of structures we want to see put in place, we also think we need a healthy mix of local and foreign banks.
At the end of the day, we think all of these things will begin to unfold, but these things are clearly thought out and the national interest is paramount.

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