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TGI denies link to Emefiele as Titan defends acquisition of Union Bank

The Tropical General Investment Group (TGI) has dispelled the report of the special investigator, which probed the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria, linking…

The Tropical General Investment Group (TGI) has dispelled the report of the special investigator, which probed the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria, linking its ownership of Titan Trust and Unity Banks to the former governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele.

Head, Corporate Communications, TGI Group, Ms. Rafiat Gawat, in a statement yesterday, said some of the assumptions in the report were incorrect, “thereby resulting in a conclusion that may not necessarily reflect the actual reality.”

She noted that as the majority owner of Titan Trust and Union Banks, TGI had been doing business in Nigeria for close to 45 years and had evolved into one of the largest companies in West Africa. 

“Today, TGI employs over 20,000 people spread through the length and breadth of Nigeria. We have over ₦3.75trilllion in assets and as of 2022, our annual revenues stood at over N1.74 trillion.

“Our companies and entities are exemplary corporate citizens of Nigeria and pay over N50 billion annually in taxes to the government. The acquisition of Union Bank by Titan Trust Bank followed all the laid down rules and regulations. The approximately USD500 million capital used to pay for the transaction was transparent and unimpeachable. The entire transaction was managed by highly reputed global financial institutions including Rothschild and Citibank. And like most major acquisitions, the process took years to complete.” 

Gawat said $300m loan was sourced from African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) and the rest of the capital was sourced from the proceeds of TGI’s sales of its Chi Ltd business to Coca-Cola, all to finance the acquisition of Union Bank. 

“The purported investigation report recommended that the federal government should take over the banks. Such declarations based on incorrect assumptions portray Nigeria negatively, especially when the president is tirelessly seeking and courting foreign investments into the country. 

“TGI operates in 13 countries, including Nigeria, India, Morocco, Germany and the United Arab Emirates in agribusiness, industrial chemicals, real estate development and financial services. The opening of our USD75 million diary factory in Dubai in November 2023, is a further testimony to our international status and a proof of our presence in the country, contrary to the alleged claim by the purported report.” 

She said TGI’s commitment to Nigeria’s economic development and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda was evident in our activities across the country.

“We are a partner with Lagos state government on the 32 metric-tonne Imota Rice Mill in Ikorodu, and was also the sole supplier of paddy rice to the Lagos-Kebbi Lake Rice project. TGI also partners with Edo State Government to run their fertilizer blending plant, where we are the only producers of the chemical blend of NPK fertiliser that millions of Nigerian farmers use every season. 

“Additionally, we have state-of-the-art rice mills and Sesame factories in Kebbi and Jigawa states; foods and agrochemical production lines in Ogun and Lagos, and recently, signed a N50 billion financing agreement to support agricultural initiatives in Niger state which is projected to provide tens of thousands of jobs to the locals and improve food security in the country.”  

Gawat said the investigator’s claim that Union Bank did not respond to his request for information was “misleading as all the information requested was submitted on the 1st September, 2023.

“It’s a well-known fact that Mr Vink, who has been in Nigeria since 1978, is an elderly person and has recently been medically advised to limit his movements. This was duly communicated to the investigator with supporting documents,” she stated.

“TGI’s capital, ownership and selling of Chi to a multinational such as Coca cola is proof that Mr Vink is not a proxy. The Group’s ability to engage and work with reputable international financial advisors and bankers attests to the Group’s global credibility. Union Bank was not owned by government and no government money (CBN or AMCON) was used to buy it. The process was diligently followed as captured in the report of the investigator. 

“As responsible corporate citizens, we are always willing, ready, and able to support stakeholders including regulators to learn and understand our Group and its operations.”  

Titan Bank defends acquisition

The Acting Managing Director of Titan Bank, Adaeze Udensi, in a statement yesterday, said the acquisition of Union Bank by Titan Bank was conducted in the most professional, open and transparent bidding process.

Udensi was reacting to the special investigator’s report alleging that TTB illegally acquired Union Bank and was used as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the acquisition.

 

She said the acquisition was funded by a combination of debt ($300 million) and an additional equity injection of about $190 million which was contributed by TTB’s two major shareholders – Magna International DMCC, and Luxis International DMCC.

She explained: “During the special investigation, the boards and management of TTB and Union Bank made all representations to the investigation team. There is no illegality or fraud in the acquisition as alleged. We insist that this acquisition can vie for one of the most professional and transparent in the history of this country.

“On allegations relating to the ownership of Titan Trust Bank, the board and management provided to the special investigators with the share ownership structure in TTB including the holdings of Magna International DMCC and Luxis International DMCC owned by Mr. Raul Savara and Mr. Cornelis Vink. These individuals are prominent global entrepreneurs and have thriving businesses in Nigeria and several countries around the world. The shareholding structure is also verifiable at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).”

She also stated that the Certificates of Capital Importation (CCI) for both the debt and the equity financing evidence the receipt of these funds into Nigeria by legal means have been made available where requested.

 

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