Polaris Bank announces a new core investor

Polaris Bank

…A new Board and Management team appointed

Polaris Bank, on 21 October, announced that it had been notified of the completion of a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) for the acquisition of 100% of its equity  (‘Polaris’ or ‘the Bank’) by Strategic Capital Investment Limited (‘SCIL’). As part of the change in ownership, SCIL has appointed a new independent Board of Directors to lead the bank’s growth strategy.

The new Board will be led by the existing Chairman M K Ahmad. He will be joined on the board by six non-executive directors and 3 executive directors, bringing extensive experience in the banking and wider financial services sector in Nigeria and internationally, and expertise in corporate governance, human resource management, law and regulation.

The incoming board are:

Alhaji MK Ahmad (Chairman)
Mr Abubakar Danlami Suleiman (Non-Executive Director)
Ms Salma Mohammed (Non-Executive Director)
Mr Adeleke Alex Adedipe (Non-Executive Director)
Mr Ahmed Almustapha (Non-Executive Director)
Mr Francesco Cuzzocrea (Non-Executive Director)
Mrs Olabisi Olubunmi Odunowo (Non-Executive Director)
Mr Adekunle Sonola (Executive – MD/CEO)
Mr Abdullahi S Mohammed (Executive Director)
Mr Segun Opeke (Executive Director)

Commenting on the acquisition and board transition, Chairman of Polaris Bank Alhaji M K Ahmad said: “I would like to thank the outgoing board members profusely for their hard work and dedication over the last four years as we have established a strong governance structure and stabilised the bank. I am very pleased with the progress we have been able to make, and that we have delivered on our mandate to prepare the bank for a return to private ownership. I am personally proud to have been asked to lead the bank into an exciting new future and I look forward to working with the new board and our core investors to build on the platform we have created.”

Speaking on behalf of SCIL, the new core investor, Adekunle Sonola, the incoming MD/CEO said: “We are excited to participate in the next phase of growth for Polaris Bank and to have been able to recruit such an experienced and diverse Board of Directors we are confident can lead Polaris Bank into a new era of sustainable growth. This is an exciting time for the Nigerian financial services industry and we are committed to building on the strong foundations that have been established by the departing board. We would like to express our thanks for their service and wish them well.

We have mandated the incoming management to develop an innovative, but sustainable growth strategy that prioritises the needs and aspirations of our current customers.”

Board Profiles

Alhaji M K Ahmad OON (Chairman)
With more than 37 years of experience leading and working across the private and public sectors, MK has extensive knowledge of the financial services, telecoms and FMCG sectors. He has been the Chairman of Polaris Bank since 2018, overseeing the stabilisation of the bank and the introduction of best-practice corporate governance. MK currently serves as the Chairman of the Interim Management Board of International Energy Assurance as well as Chairman of the Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation. He is also a Board Director of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc and FBN Holdco. Prior to this MK served as the pioneer Director General of PENCOM.

Mr Abubakar Danlami Suleiman (Non-Executive)
Mr Suleiman has more than 30 years of experience in the banking sector, having worked at the Central Bank of Nigeria, GT Bank, Continental Trust Bank, UBA Plc, NAL Bank Plc, Intercontinental Bank Plc (Executive Director), Sterling Bank Plc (Executive Director), Standard Chartered Bank (Managing Principal) and most recently as Deputy Managing Director/Acting Group Managing Director of Keystone Bank between 2017 and 2019. He has vast technical experience in the Financial Service sector, and very strong management and leadership qualities.

He is an alumnus of the Wharton Business School (Pennsylvania, USA) and the INSEAD (France).

Ms Salma Mohammed (Non-Executive)
Ms. Mohammed has over 25 years of experience as a Banker and a Human Resource Management professional having worked in operational and strategic human resource leadership positions across a range of financial institutions. She is Co-Founder/Chief Operating Officer of New Frontier Development Limited, an investment company focused on financial advisory, hospitality, real estate and proprietary investments in start-ups and challenged companies in the SME space.

She was previously the MD/CEO of Centrum Finance Company Limited, a CBN-licensed finance company and brings a strong combination of sector expertise and human capital management experience to the Polaris Bank board.

Mr Adeleke Alex Adedipe (Non-Executive)
Mr Adedipe is the Managing Partner at Duale, Ovia and Alex-Adedipe, where he leads the technology, media and communications practice as well as the M&A and Banking and Finance practice areas. His combination of expertise brings an important perspective to the board as a new strategy focused on innovation is developed and implemented.

Mr Ahmed Almustapha OFR (Non-Executive)
Mr Almustapha is a lawyer and experienced technocrat who served as the Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) from 2001 to 2009 during which he is widely acknowledged to have transformed the CAC into a modern IT-driven organisation. He has also served on the board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and is respected as one of Nigeria’s leading authorities on corporate governance.

Mr Francesco Cuzzocrea (Non-Executive)
Mr Cuzzocrea is a banker with more than 35 years of experience in the international financial services sector. He has extensive board level, including in Nigeria where he served on the boards of Heritage Bank (until August 2016) and Oando Plc (until February 2016).

Mrs Olabisi Olubunmi Odunowo (Non-Executive Director)
Mrs Odunowo has more than 25 years of experience in the Nigerian banking sector having held operations leadership positions across a range of financial institutions including Coronation Merchant Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank. She currently applies her extensive operational and customer service experience by advising and capacitating small and medium-sized businesses across a range of industries.

Mr Adekunle Sonola (Executive – MD/CEO)
Mr Sonola has more than 33 years of experience in the African financial services sector, most recently as Executive Director of Commercial Banking at Union Bank Plc, prior to which he was the pioneer Regional Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank East Africa and the Director of Investment Banking at Standard Bank in South Africa. Adekunle has also served on the boards of First Bank of Nigeria Plc where he chaired the Board’s Risk Management Committee and Airtel Nigeria Plc.

Mr Abdullahi S Mohammed (Executive Director)
Mr Mohammed has worked in the Nigerian Financial Services and public sectors for more than 20 years, having begun his financial services career with Century Merchant Bank and Kakawa Discount House before being appointed as the Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport in Kano State. He returned to Kakawa Discount House in 2003, before joining First Bank and ultimately moving to his current position at Polaris Bank.

Mr Segun Opeke (Executive Director)
Mr Opeke has more than 26 years of experience in the Nigerian financial services sector with more than 15 years spent in Senior and Executive Management positions. Segun began his career with Chartered Bank before joining FSB Merchant Bank and then Prudent Bank before joining the then Skye Bank in 2006, rising to become Executive Director of the now Polaris Bank, with more than 15 years experience in the institution.