By Bayo Bernard
The die is now cast. It’s now clear that Diamond Bank Plc, with its over 28-years operation as a commercial bank in Nigeria, will in the new year join the league of other banks in the country taken over either by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN or a bigger bank.
But it’s more than that. The implication of a takeover will even be more for the teeming staff of the bank who have been living in apprehension of losing their jobs since the problem started in 2015.
In 2015 the bank sacked over 1,000 employees in its payroll citing serious economic challenges. From all indications the number of employees that will lose their jobs will even be more this time around, sources in the bank told the magazine.
In some of the branches visited yesterday by the magazine, some employees appear to have accepted the reality that sooner than later they will be asked to go.
But the fear is more among the managerial and middle level staff who believe they will not escape the down-sizing that will be implemented by the new owners of the bank.
“We are aware of the implication. When a take-over happens, it’s most unlikely that the new management will absorb existing staff. They will bring in their own people to run the bank in line with their goals and aspirations,” a branch manager told the magazine in Ikeja on Monday.
More than half of the 300 branch managers will be sacked, according to sources privy to the agreement reached by the two banks three days ago. “They will, however be paid their severance pay,” the same source said.
The magazine had penultimate week reported that the Uzoma Dozie led bank has ran into liquidity problem and therefore may find it difficult to meet its obligations to its customers.
It was also mentioned in the report that some customers were in panic over what may eventually happened to the bank, established 28 years ago by Pascal Dozie, whose family owns close to 20 percent shares in the bank.
Dozie is the chairman of MTN Nigeria and father of current CEO of the bank.
The magazine had reported that the management of the two banks were putting finishing touches to the ‘takeover’ and that the arrangement will be perfected before the new year.
The report came on the heels of stringent denial by Diamond Bank that it was in any merger talks with Access Bank, Nigeria’s fourth largest bank.
As it turned out, the bank had actually been meeting with Access Bank officials on how to wind down its operation in favor of Access that will now be the ‘mother’ entity.
“We have concluded the merger talks. We are waiting for the approval of CBN and anytime from now the situation will be made known to the public” a director of the bank told the magazine on Monday, though he said he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
The managing director and chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc Herbert Wigwe has confirmed that there’s an ongoing arrangement by his bank to subsume Diamond Bank.
He said “Access Bank has a strong track record of acquisition and integration which has a clear growth strategy.
“Access and Diamond Banks have complimentary operations and similar values. A merger with Diamond Bank with its leadership in digital and mobile-led retail banking could accelerate our banking strategy as a significant corporate and retail bank in Nigeria and a pan-African financial services champion.
“Access Bank has a strong financial profile with a robust capital of over 20 per cent CAR (capital adequacy ratio) as at 30 September, 2018.
“We believe that this platform, together with the two banks’ focus and innovative financial inclusion and sustainability will bring benefits to the shareholders of Access and Diamond Banks.”
Indeed, that’s good news for Access Bank which might become the biggest bank in Nigeria when the CBN finally gives approval for the merger.