S&P Global Ratings said changes to the boards of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and FBN Holdings (FBNH) Plc, recently directed by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), addressed the banking group’s corporate governance challenges and ensures the Nigerian banking sector’s financial stability.
In a statement, it stated that its ratings on FBN and other Nigerian banks remain constrained by shortcomings in corporate governance and transparency, among other factors.
The CBN recently replaced the entire boards of FirstBank and FBNH, and reinstated the former executive directors and CEO, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan.
The CBN had also requested FirstBank unwind certain exposures and divest from its participation in a non-permissible company, also pointing to potential corporate governance lapses at the bank.
“However, Dr. Adeduntan’s reinstatement and the re-appointment of the other executive directors underscores the CBN’s confidence in the existing management team to continue the turnaround of the third-largest banking group in Nigeria, which has total assets of Nigerian N7.7 trillion.
“We are of the view that the CBN’s historical approach has been more reactive than proactive, as illustrated by the Skye Bank episode. That said, recent actions, while disruptive in the near-term, may signal a more direct and possibly decisive supervisory approach to alleged failings in the management and governance of regulated institutions,” S&P stated.
It, noted that FirstBank of Nigeria’s overall credit profile has gradually stabilised since 2016, with a capital adequacy ratio of 17 percent in 2020, as against a 15 percent minimum requirement.
Similarly, the bank’s asset quality indicators improved significantly, with Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) reducing to 7.7 percent in 2020, from 20-25 percent since 2016.