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Merchant Bank, First Rand Merger Hits Snag?   
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Merger talks between Merchant Bank and South African bank, First Rand Bank is likely to hit a snag.

Merchant bank has been on the market looking for a partner in a bid to meet Bank of Ghana’s recapitalization requirement of 60 million cedis. A number of banks both local and foreign have made approaches but the South African deal was said to be the best deal yet until the latest development.

The South African bank has been negotiating with Merchant Bank for a possible merger since last year. But Citi Business News has picked up strong signals that First Rand Bank may pull out of the Merchant Bank merger talks.

Successful talks would have seen Merchant Bank possibly meeting the bank of Ghana's recapitalization deadline and also see first rand expanding its frontiers in Africa.

Citi Business News has also learnt that the South African bank is still under-going diligence processes with Merchant Bank but sources close to the bank say First Rand Bank is likely to pull out of talks due to Merchant’s purported weak balance sheet.

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has 55 percent shares in the bank and industry players say the merger talks if not successful will be a big blow to the indigenous bank as it struggles to meet the recapitalization deadline.

Meanwhile, as the deadline approaches some other banks which are yet to recapitalize include UT Bank, CAL bank, and HFC bank.

HFC, another indigenous bank has remained mute about measures it is putting in place to meet the deadline. But sources close to the bank say HFC is in talks with its largest shareholder SSNIT to get it to put in more money in a bid to meet its deadline.

It is unclear yet whether SSNIT may yield to the bank’s request but if it does not HFC may have to consider going onto to the stock market for a rights issue. The Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) has already announced it will list on the stock market soon but are yet to announce exactly when.

In a related development, UT bank in an earlier interview with Citi Business News vowed to keep its indigenous brand and says it is on course to meet the deadline.

Given its impressive track record and balance sheet among others, industry players are optimistic UT will meet the deadline with majority shareholders from Ghana.
Source: Citifmonline.com

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