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Polaris retains Ahmad to chair new board

By Geoff Iyatse
24 October 2022   |   2:34 am
The core investor of Polaris Bank Limited, Strategic Capital Investment Limited (SCIL), has retained Muhammad Ahmad as the chairman of the new board the completion of its share purchase agreement (SPA) last week.

Polaris Bank

The core investor of Polaris Bank Limited, Strategic Capital Investment Limited (SCIL), has retained Muhammad Ahmad as the chairman of the new board the completion of its share purchase agreement (SPA) last week.

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had last week, announced the completion of the deal after N50 billion upfront payment and agreement to pay N1.305 trillion injected into the bank.

Polaris had operated as a bridge bank since 2018 when the apex bank revoked the licence of the defunct Skye Bank Plc and set up Polaris to take over its assets and liabilities.

A consideration bond with a face value of N898 billion (future value of N1.305 trillion) was injected into the bridge bank through AMCON, to be repaid over 25 years.

CBN had argued that the actions were taken to prevent the collapse of the bank, protect depositors’ funds and prevent the systemic risk of its possible failure.
At the weekend, SCIL appointed a new independent board of directors to “lead the bank’s growth strategy.” The board, it stated in a statement would be led by Ahmad, who would be joined by six non-executive directors and three executive directors.

A former Director General of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), Ahmad headed the board of Polaris from its inception, overseeing its stabilisation of the bank phase as a bridge bank.

Ahmad currently serves as the Chairman of the Interim Management Board of International Energy Assurance as well as Chairman of the Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation. He is also a Board Director of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc and FBN Holdco Plc.

Unlike Ahmad, Innocent Ike has been replaced by Adekunle Sonola as chief executive officer of the new Polaris. Other board members include, Abubakar Danlami Suleiman (non-executive director), Salma Mohammed (non-executive director), Adeleke Alex Adedipe (non-executive director) and Ahmed Almustapha (non-executive director).

Others are Francesco Cuzzocrea (non-executive director), Olabisi Olubunmi Odunowo (non-executive director), Abdullahi Mohammed (executive director) and Segun Opeke (executive director).

On the changes, Ahmad was quoted as saying: “I am very pleased with the progress we have been able to make, and that we have delivered on our mandate to prepare the bank for a return to private ownership.

“I am personally proud to have been asked to lead the bank into an exciting new future and I look forward to working with the new board and our core investors to build on the platform we have created.”

Sonola, the incoming chief executive, said: “We are excited to participate in the next phase of growth for Polaris Bank and to have been able to recruit such an experienced and diverse board of directors we are confident can lead Polaris Bank into a new era of sustainable growth.

“This is an exciting time for the Nigerian financial services industry and we are committed to building on the strong foundations that have been established by the departing board.

We would like to express our thanks for their service and wish them well.

We have mandated the incoming management to develop an innovative, but sustainable growth strategy that prioritises the needs and aspirations of our current customers.”

Sonola has more than 33 years of experience in the African financial services sector, most recently as Executive Director of Commercial Banking at Union Bank Plc. He was pioneer Regional Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank East Africa and the Director of Investment Banking at Standard Bank in South Africa. He also served on the boards of First Bank of Nigeria where he chaired the Risk Management Committee.