General News of 2013-12-04

Fortiz: We offered a better deal than First Rand

Fortiz Private Equity Fund, new owner of Merchant Bank Ghana, says it put forth a better bid than South Africa’s First Rand Bank, whose earlier bid failed.

Fortiz, which intends listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange in three years, acquired 90 percent of the bank, which hitherto had the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), as its majority shareholder.

It paid Ghc90 million for the acquisition.

First Rand offered Ghc199 for a 75 percent stake but the deal fell through.

Anti-graft campaigner and Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy (CFA), Andy Awuni, who has described the transaction as a “dash”, is challenging the sale in court.

The deal got done despite the Court challenge.

A statement issued Wednesday by Fortiz said the Fund was “pleased to announce the completion of the acquisition of Merchant Bank (Ghana) Limited”.

It said: “Fortiz has met the requisite and immediate conditions set by the Bank of Ghana and wish to thank the hard working management and staff of Merchant Bank for their support through this process”.

“We also wish to thank the loyal customers of the bank who have stayed the course through the acquisition”, the statement added.

The Fund said it is “currently in the process of forming a strong executive team to execute the vision of the shareholders”, adding that: “Our vision is to build a formidable indigenous bank within the next 3 years in order to become the most preferred bank in the country”.

Its Vice President, Yvonne ofosu Appiah, said Wednesday, in an interview with Citi FM that detailed comparative analyses done by SSNIT concerning the two proposals showed that “indeed the Fortiz offer was better than First Rand’s”.

The sale of Merchant Bank has been fraught with allegations of corruption and political influence.