The chairman of the House of Representatives’ ad-hoc committee investigating the sale of Polaris Bank, Henry Nwabuba, has revealed that 35 companies offered bids to buy the commercial bank.
The revelation came amid criticism trailing the process after reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria 0 (CBN) plans to sell Polaris Bank for N40 billion, below the N1.2 trillion that the financial regulator and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) injected into the firm to revive it.
Polaris Bank, previously known as Skye Bank, liquidated after allegation of financial mismanagement by the top executives. Its license was revoked by CBN, before it was reissued under a new name, Polaris Bank in 2018, with AMCON and the apex bank financially backing the operation.
According to reports, the House of Representatives ordered the CBN and AMCON to stop the sale of Polaris Bank to ensure an open, transparent, and competitive bid process, as well as protecting the investment and interests of the general public.
The ad-hoc committee was ordered to probe the sale process, and in a recent update, Nwabuba said it was discovered that 35 companies bidded for Polaris Bank. The list was later reduced to 15, then seven.
After the shortlisting, Nwabuba said a presidential approval was issued, so there’s no issue over the sale for now. However, he said investigation would continue.
Nwawuba said: “On the last legislative day before we broke up from plenary sessions to work on the budget, there was a motion on the floor asking the CBN to suspend the sale of Polaris Bank and cutting up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the circumstances, and I happened to have emerged to chair that committee.
“We are happy so far, but as you know it is an investigation and hopefully, we intend to conclude this investigation and lay the report before we commence sitting.
“So far everything looks really good. We do not have any cause for concern for now. For the stability of the financial systems in Nigeria, we would call on Nigerians to know there is nothing wrong with Polaris Bank as a bank.
“What the house is looking at is the process of the acquisition or the sale and so far, we are confident from what we are seeing.
“Until we conclude this investigation, I would not be able to speak authoritatively on the matter, but from what we are seeing so far, particularly with the approvals and the steps taken so far there seems to be substantial compliance on the matter so far.
“Nigerians are enjoined to continue to relax and leave their deposits with the bank and continue their business with the bank.”