Business News of Friday, 18 January 2013

Source: Ghana Daily

Merchant Bank Now Merchant Rand

Barring any last minute hitches, the South African port folio entity, FirstRand Bank, will assume majority shares in Merchant Bank and top executives have expressed optimism that the bank’s fortunes will improve dramatically.
With the 75 per cent shareholding FirstRand has garnered at the cost of GHS176.4 million (R746.2 million), the South African bank is expected to roll out innovative banking policies to challenge Ecobank which recently acquired another Ghanaian state bank, The Trust Bank.
The current acquisition of Merchant Bank by First Rand means the existing shares of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) will remain as minority shareholder to continue support for banking businesses.
Officers at Merchant Bank Ghana were tight-lipped on the way forward for the bank when contacted by Ghana Daily.
Sources however confirmed that First Rand is mapping out a robust and massive rebranding strategy to be implemented soon.
“First Rand coming to Ghana is not a bad thing at all. We shall succeed and it’s going to be shocker to everybody who doubted the competences available,” one senior officer of Merchant Bank said.
The current mood of some staff of Merchant Bank is that of uncertainty and anxiety but few colleagues who were privy to some high level decisions from the new managers have assured them of “better times ahead.”
Sizwe Nxasana, CEO of First Rand, shortly after the bid to take over Merchant Bank was approved by stakeholders last year said, “We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity to acquire MBG (Merchant Bank Ghana). Its represents a long standing banking franchise which will provide an excellent platform for FNB (First Rand Bank).... to roll out products and services in Ghana.”
Merchant Bank currently has 22 branches and the new managers are hoping to increase the numbers with first class banking.