Business News of 2013-12-12

Our offer was better than FirstRand's – Fortiz insists

Fortiz Private Equity Fund has downplayed arguments that the proposal from South Africa’s FirstRand Bank to acquire Merchant Bank was better than theirs.

FirstRand offered Ghc140 million for a 75 percent stake in Merchant Bank compared to the Ghc90 million for 90 percent stake presented by Fortiz.

At a meeting between some journalists and directors of the bank, Fortiz said their proposal was better.

In explaining why their deal went through, Fortiz said SSNIT and SIC Life were to inject a total of Ghc240 million while FirstRand offered to pay only Ghc140 million for a majority stake in Merchant Bank Ghana.

This means before FirstRand will inject that money, SSNIT and SIC Life would have to first pump in Ghc241 million which they did not have.

Fortiz on the other hand, proposed that they would pay Ghc90 million for the 90% stake and absorb all assets and liabilities which FirstRand Bank was not prepared to do.

Since Merchant Bank Ghana has a negative value, Fortiz will offer existing shareholders 10 percent stake in merchant bank as compensation for the loss in value.

Again, in the likely event that existing shareholders are unable to inject all the Ghc241 million funds required, SSNIT and SIC Life will end up with only nine percent shareholding.

Fortiz on the other hand said existing shareholders will retain ten percent post acquisition.

The M.A.R.T recovered in excess of 30 percent, which will also be split between existing shareholders and Fortiz fund in the ratio of 70 to 30 percent respectively.

Eventually, existing shareholders may have between 10 and 20 percent stake after restructuring period. That is if Fortiz is able to recover a majority of the 70 percent bad debt on the books of the bank.

The Chief Investment Officer for Fortiz Fund, Mawuli Hedo has said they already have a transition team at the bank after completing the acquisition of the bank.

He explained saying, “there is theoretical takeover, and there is a practical and physical takeover. I think we are mixing the two. When you meet a condition, you only have to inform the Bank of Ghana. If your condition is not met, they will let you know that you have not met the condition. You approve a takeover, and you give conditions.”