SOME minority shareholders on Monday, August 7, rallied support for FBN Holdings Plc to hold its annual general meeting (AGM) scheduled virtually for August 15.
The chairman Trusted Shareholders’ Association, Mukhtar Mukhtar, led the protest at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos, according to a Punch report.
“We are here at the First Bank office to register our displeasure, our discontentment, and rejection of the attempt by some shareholders to prevent the Annual General Meeting of First Bank from holding and preventing the consideration of some very important resolutions for the progress of the bank.
“These shareholders have approached the court to stop First Bank from raising capital like other banks are doing and then not to admit some directors onto the board of the bank. Those who have gone to court to stop the AGM know that it is illegal. AGMs are statutory meetings,” Mukhtar said.
FBN Holdings has, in a notice on July 22, revealed a plan to raise additional capital subject to shareholders’ approval and to appoint billionaire investor Femi Otedola as a non-executive director, among other concerns.
Coming by way of a rights issue, the lender would raise funds via the creation of 8.974 billion Ordinary shares at 50 kobo each.
“That the company’s issued share capital be and is hereby increased from NGN17.95bn made up of 35,895,292,792 ordinary shares of 50 Kobo each to N22.35bn by the creation of 8.973,823,198 ordinary shares of 50 Kobo each,” the Nigerian oldest bank said in the notice.
Arising from its decision to hold a virtual session, some shareholders are questioning why the bank planned to avoid a physical meeting bearing in mind the crucial agenda expected to be reached at the AGM.
According to some shareholders, a physical AGM would allow them to express their views unhindered, either for or against the critical agenda already proposed by the bank.
A shareholder of First Bank, Timothy Adesanyi, believed that a virtual AGM would allow shareholders to express their minds on their investments.
“What is going on in the bank is enormous. So, if the AGM is still to be held virtually, it is not to the pleasure of shareholders,'” Adesanyi, a former chairman of Nigerian Shareholders’ Solidarity Association, said in a chat with The ICIR.
He, however, considered that if the AGM is not held, significant decisions would not be taken or approved, including the proposed annual dividends.
“I think that the meeting should be allowed to hold because it is at that meeting we will get the approval for the payment of dividends the bank has approved for shareholders.
“Over the years, this declaration (proposed dividend) has been the highest. They should hold the meeting to allow us to collect our dividends, whether a virtual or physical meeting,” He submitted.
Adesanyi asserted that most people like him, who have been company shareholders for over 40 years, acquired the bank’s shares when the price was about N34.
The share price has fallen to as low as N3 but is now growing to about N20 as of last week.