Ankobra West Rural Bank no longer interested in merger

By The Statesman
By The Statesman

5/6/2010 10:46:08 AM -

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Shareholders of Ankobra West Rural Bank Limited say they are no longer interested in merging their bank with Nzima Maanle rural bank as decided somewhere last year. 

Consequently, they have directed the board of directors to as a matter of urgency discontinue the year long merger discussions with that sister bank.  The directive was given at the bank's 18th Annual General meeting at Esiama in the Elembelle district of the Western Region last saturday.

Discussions on the proposed merger which was not part of agenda for the day, nearly marred the heavily attended AGM. It took tact and diplomacy on the part off the board chairman, Mike Ezan, to cool tempers. Ironically, it was these very shareholders who last year mandated the board to initiate merger discussions with Nzima Maanle .Successful merger of the two rural banks would have given them a new name ' THe Nzima Kotoko Rural Bank Limited'.

The idea of merger of sister banks which  is being trumpeted by the ' ARB Apex Bank is not only aimed at empowering rural banks to compete favourably with the bigger commercial banks but also improve on their service delivery. According to Mr. Ezan, Ankobra West Rural bank would soon hold an Extra Ordinary General Meeting to exclusively and take a final vote on the merger proposal. Some of the shareholders who spoke to the press intimated that their sudden change of mind with regards to the proposed merger is basically based on reports reaching them from Nzima Maanle at Atuabo. Reports, they said indicated that that bank is virtually collapsing due to its inability to retrieve millions of New Ghana cedis given out as loans.

They also contended that the once distressed Ankobra West Rural Bank is now solidly on its feet and performing creditably. It is therefore not necessary for their bank to merge with any other bank. This assertion is confirmed by the bank's moves to re-open all collapsed agencies within its catchment area.

This  follows the bank's ability to raise its stated capital  to GH 150,000 cedis in compliance with Bank of Ghana's notice to all rural banks to do so.The bank's wonderful performance is further captured  in Mr Ezan's report to the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting. He disclosed for example that last year, the bank generated  a total income of GH 232,374  cedis as against GH 162,166 in 2008.Operating expenses, he disclosed, totalled GH 168,080 cedis compared with GH 120,682 cedis an increase of GH47,398 cedis or 39.27 percent. The bank posted an operating profit before tax of GH 64,294 as against profit of GH 41,484 cedis in 2008.

Most importantly, the bank's deposit base has for the first time in history crossed the GH1million cedis threshold. It was therefore not surprising when the Takoradi branch manager of ARB Apex Bank, Kweku Ababio, in a speech read on behalf of his boss, commended management and the board for a good job done. Perhaps it was the bank's progress which moved the Member of Parliament for Evalue Gwira. Catherine Afeku, to purchase five thousand of its shares.Ankobra West Rural Bank Limited was declared distressed by the Bank of Ghana  and closed down for almost eight years.

It resumed operations ten years ago. The bank's predicament was largely due to default in loan re-payment by its customer following a severe drought which hit the catchment area. Banking gurus like Asiedu Mante, former deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana and Eric Osei-Bonsu, Managing Director of ARB APEX Bank have also commended  the bank for living up to expectation since its re-opening.

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