Ghana’s Agricultural Development Bank Ltd. said it’s not subject to a takeover after more than half its shareholders pledged to sell their stakes to Unibank Ghana Ltd.
ADB, as the Accra-based lender is known, rejected the advance as Unibank’s managing director, Kwabena Duffuor, said that Belstar Capital Ltd. is leading a group of shareholders who will sell 53 percent of their holdings. Unibank’s announcement spurred the Ghana Stock Exchange to suspend trading in ADB’s shares to allow the bourse time to get clarity on the matter.
“A pledge does not have the effect of the transfer of ownership,” ADB said in a statement on Wednesday. If the shareholders “have pledged their shares together with any benefits or privileges attached thereto, that will not have the effect of making Unibank a shareholder of ADB or constitute a takeover.”
Read more: ADB’s takeover bid by Ghana’s Unibank in doubt
Unibank’s approach for ADB comes as lenders in Ghana scurry to meet an end-of-the-year deadline to bolster their capital buffers. The new rules are part of a government effort to create stronger banks.
Earlier on Wednesday, Bank of Ghana Governor Ernest Addison said that the institution hasn’t approved a takeover of ADB or any transfer of shares. ADB is in talks with the stock exchange to restore trading in its securities, the lender said in its statement.
Belstar Capital — which provides project finance in Africa, Asia and Latin America from its offices in Washington, Miami, Madrid and Accra — owns 24 percent of the agricultural lender, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Starmount Development Co. holds 11 percent, SIC-Financial Services Ltd. a 10 percent-stake, and the Bank of Ghana 9.5 percent, the data show. Ghana’s government is the biggest shareholder with 32 percent.