First Bank Writes off Bad Debts Linked to Two Oil Moguls

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Group Managing Director of FBN Holdings Plc, Mr Urum Kalu Eke, has disclosed that in the first half of 2019, the company wrote off one of its largest non-performing loans (NPLs) belonging to Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited.

Speaking on the performance of the firm in the first six months of this year, Mr Eke said this development contributed to the reduction of the entity’s NPL ratio from the 25.9 percent it stood in December 2018 to 14.5 percent as at June 2019.

He stated further that the financial institution was working towards achieving its target of pruning the NPL ratio to a single digit by year-end.

Business Post reports that as at the end of first quarter of 2019, which ended March 31, the NPL ratio of FBN Holdings was 25.3 percent.

“Despite the difficult operating environment, we remain resolute in delivering on our guidance across key metrics including our commitment towards a single digit NPL ratio by the end of year, as evidenced by the reduction in NPLs from the last quarter.

“Essentially, Atlantic Energy, our largest NPL, was written off, translating to a decline in the NPL ratio from 25.9 percent in December 2018 to 14.5 percent as at June 2019, a step that brings us closer to our FY 2019 target and creates more headroom for quality asset growth.

“This is paving the way for sustained improvement in asset quality and a further reduction in impairment charges that will allow us to take advantage of enhanced earnings opportunities when they arise.

“Furthermore, we have remained focused on deepening our transaction-led income and are uniquely positioning for stronger revenue growth and value creation,” Mr Eke was quoted as saying.

Also commenting on the issue, the CEO of First Bank and Subsidiaries, Mr Adesola Adeduntan, noted that, “In line with our commitment to address the legacy asset quality challenges, exposure to Atlantic Energy was written off in the quarter.

“This is a material progress in our legacy NPL resolutions and clearly reflects our resolve towards achieving a single digit NPL ratio by year end.

“In addition, this step creates significant headroom for increased business opportunities and enhanced earnings especially in the oil & gas sector of the economy.”

Business Post reports that Atlantic Energy is promoted by the duo of Mr Kola Aluko and Mr Jide Omokore, both who are believed to be close allies of Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum from April 2010 to May 2015 under the administration of Mr Goodluck Jonathan.

According to a document released by First Bank, which was sighted by Business Post, the bank, alongside another lender, provided credit facility to Atlantic Energy. This was a $289 million term loan and working capital facilities to make payment of the entry fee to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) for OML 26, 30, 34, and 42 and fund cash calls for OPEX and CAPEX on the OMLs.

“Atlantic Energy will be providing funds for operation and development of NPDC’s 55 percent interest in OML 26, 30, 34, and 42. In return for this, Atlantic Energy will be granted lifting rights for its financial interest in the Strategic Alliance Agreement (SSA),” the document stated.

This deal between Atlantic Energy and NPDC has been described by observers as one of the biggest oil scams in Nigeria.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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