By Gbenga Adedayo
Indications have emerged on the real reason the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) approved the takeover of Union Bank Plc by Titan Trust Bank, a smaller bank with no strong base, as against other bigger banks like Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc and Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank, which had also indicated interests.
The calculation was that given the huge size of Union Bank with its extensive branch network cutting across the country and beyond, a smaller bank would be ideal to absorb its branches, assets and personnel without disruptions to status quo.
It was this decision, more than any other consideration, that informed the choice of Titan Trust Bank, which has no presence in major cities across Nigeria. Titan Trust Bank began operation in Nigeria as a commercial bank after it was granted license in April 2019.
According to sources at the apex bank which disclosed this to Media Issues, it was feared that Zenith Bank and Access Bank would not be able to retain all the branches of Union Bank given their respective broad branch network.
It was believed that both Access and Zenith banks might close down some of the branches of Union Bank upon takeover, as some of them are currently located within the same radius of the two banks existing branches.
This, according to the source, may not only lead to closure of those branches, but may also lead to retrenchment of existing staff in those branches with attendant dislocations to current structure and economic balance.
Implicitly, failure of Access, Zenith and other financial suitors to secure acquisition of Union Bank was aimed at saving jobs, protecting customers interest and ensuring there is no disruption to the current financial stability in the country.
Both Zenith, Access and Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank had expressed interest to acquire Union Bank and other African assets of Atlas Mara Group, a Pan-African banking group, along with Titan Trust Bank.