HFC Bank has disclosed that it is in talks with two commercial banks over the possibility of a merger or acquisition as part of the bank’s move to meet the GHS400 million minimum capital requirement announced by the central bank some fortnight ago.
According to the HFC Managing Director, Anthony Jordan, the two banks approached HFC after the Bank of Ghana’s announcement to find out whether they can come together as single bank to meet the December 31, 2018 deadline.
“We have started preliminary discussions with two banks that have approached us since the announcement was made and if there is progress, then you will see some kind of merger or an acquisition take place.
But remember we will not just want to merge or acquire other banks but we will consider whether we have some common grounds especially when it comes to culture which will impact on our way of doing business together seamlessly,” he told the B&FT.
According to Mr. Jordan, who will not disclose the names of the said banks, since the announcement, there have been conversations within the banking industry around mergers and acquisitions among the banks; and HFC is open to offers from other banks.
He told the B&FT that: “you may be aware that HFC was one of the three banks that applied for the purchase of UT and Capital banks. That tells you how we view this whole idea of consolidation. We remain very much aggressive in the market and we have the expertise when it comes to acquisitions as we are ready to grow the bank through such means should the need arise from the increase in the minimum capital requirement. This is because we suspect some of the banks will not be able to meet the GH¢400 million set.”
The Bank of Ghana recently announced a new capital requirement of GH¢400 million for banks in the country.
The increase meant that, new entrants into the banking industry have to cough the GH¢400 million amount while existing banks were given up to December 2018 to meet the new minimum capital requirement.
The GH¢400 million represented a jump of 233.3 percent from the previous GH¢120 million set by the regulator for commercial banks in the country.
Responding to whether HFC will meet the new capital, the Managing Director Mr. Jordan said, HFC Bank will meet the new minimum capital requirement.
“We intend to meet this new threshold long before the deadline in December 2018. There are strategic reasons why we will meet the deadline. Based on the discussions I have had with our majority shareholder the Republic Bank, we have decided to reinject the additional capital to meet the requirement of GH¢400 million just after our next Annual General Meeting which is set to take place in April 2018.”
New requirement not too high
That notwithstanding, he downplayed calls by some other stakeholders within the financial industry for the central bank to take a second look at the increase which they deemed to be too high.
Mr. Jordan stated that: “I will not say the amount set by the regulator is too much. One has to look at it from the context of the problems and the losses some banks have run into in times past. We must look at capital requirement as a buffer, which is able to help the banks to stay in business if there are shocks within the industry.
The other thing is that the government has made it quite clear of undergoing economic transformation.They say it will come along with some big-ticket transactions which they want it to be private sector led. This means they need banks that have the muscle and financial backing to take on these transactions to help transform the Ghanaian economy,” he added.
(By Norvan Acquah-Hayford)