General News of 2013-12-04

Fortiz, Merchant Bank deal: Ghana is being turned into a jungle- Awuni

The Chief crusader against the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Equity Firm, Andrew Awuni, says the announcement of a Fortiz takeover can only be an attempt to turn the country into a jungle.

Awuni cannot understand how "in the midst of the storm" Fortiz will put out a statement announcing it has completed the acquisition of Merchant Bank.

Even more significant, Awuni argued, is how the controversial transaction could be sealed when an application for an injunction has been filed at the court and served on Fortiz, Merchant Bank and the Bank of Ghana.

The former spokesperson to President John Kufuor and boss of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy made these comments on Asempa FM's Ekosii-sen programme, Wednesday.

He was responding to the announcement of the takeover of Merchant Bank by Fortiz Equity Firm.

There has been controversy surrounding the sale of Merchant Bank with the Centre of Freedom and Accuracy proceeding to court to challenge the sale.

The Centre insists the offer by Fortiz of 90 million cedis for 90 per cent shares of Merchant Bank is a rip-off against Ghanaian tax payers whose SSNIT contributions were used to set up Merchant Bank.

Mr. Awuni argues the transaction stinks, especially when South African bank First Rand had offered 190 million cedis for 75 per cent shares of Merchant Bank, an offer which was rejected by the Board of Merchant Bank as well as that of SSNIT.

Fortiz, Merchant Bank and Bank of Ghana have defended the sale. In the middle of the controversy, Fortiz on Wenesday announced a complete takeover of the bank.

"Fortiz is pleased to announce the completion of the acquisition of Merchant Bank (Ghana) Limited. 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," a statement signed by nameless directors said.

Speaking on the matter, Andrews Awuni said the statement signed by nameless directors has no "authenticity" adding, such a statement announcing a takeover is only a testament of how bad this whole transaction has been conducted.

No serious institution would issue a statement without the names and officials of the company, he stressed.

He said by sidelining the court case only to announce a takeover means the stakeholders in this transaction are attempting to turn the country into a jungle.

Describing the takeover announcement as a "bad case" in "bad faith", Awuni wondered why the rush in concluding the transaction in the midst of the controversy.

He would have wished the stakeholders waited until the court issue was concluded.

The announcement notwithstanding, Awuni said he will still pursue the case in court to challenge the sale.