S&P: Reconstitution Of FBNH, FirstBank Boards Bring Stability

The recently reconstituted boards of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and FBN Holdings (FBNH) Plc, as directed by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has addressed the banking group’s corporate governance challenges and ensured financial stability in the Nigerian banking sector.

This is contained in a statement by the S&P Global Ratings, saying its ratings on FBN and other Nigerian banks remain constrained by shortcomings in corporate governance and transparency, among other factors.

The CBN recently replaced the entire boards of FBN and FBNH, and reinstated the former executive directors and CEO, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan.

The CBN had also requested FBN unwind certain exposures and divest from its participation in a non-permissible company, also pointing to potential corporate governance lapses at the bank.

“However, Dr. Adeduntan’s reinstatement and the re-appointment of the other executive directors underscores the CBN’s confidence in the existing management team to continue the turnaround of the third-largest banking group in Nigeria, which has total assets of Nigerian N7.7 trillion.

“We are of the view that the CBN’s historical approach has been more reactive than proactive, as illustrated by the Skye Bank episode. That said, recent actions, while disruptive in the near-term, may signal a more direct and possibly decisive supervisory approach to alleged failings in the management and governance of regulated institutions,” the statement read in part.

It noted that FBN’s overall credit profile has gradually stabilised since 2016, with a capital adequacy ratio of 17 percent in 2020, as against a 15 percent minimum requirement.

Similarly, the bank’s asset quality indicators improved significantly, with Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) reducing to 7.7 percent in 2020, from 20-25 percent since 2016.

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