PenCom: Leadway Didn’t Breach Investment Rules by Investing in First Bank

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Festus Akanbi

The National Pension Commission (PenCom) yesterday said that Leadway Pensure Limited was not in breach of the investment regulation by investing pension funds in the equities of FBN Holding Plc.

The commission had in an earlier statement on Friday clarified that the equity investments in FBN Holdings made by Leadway Pensure Limited on behalf of the pension funds under its management “are in the name of the pension fund and belong to the RSA” and “cannot be appropriated or classified as shareholdings of any related party to the PFA”.

However, spokesperson for the commission, Mr. Peter Aghahowa, in a statement yesterday, said the clarification was necessary following several publications alleging breach of its regulation on investment of pension fund assets by Leadway Pensure in FBN Holdings equities.

“The commission categorically states that the allegations are not correct and must have been made based on the lack of understanding of the investment regulation issued by the commission.

“For the avoidance of doubt; the equity investments in FBN Holdings made by Leadway Pensure Ltd., on behalf of the pension funds under its management are in the name of the pension fund and belong to the Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders.

“Therefore, the equity investments in FBN Holdings Plc., as stated cannot be appropriated or classified as shareholdings of any related party to the Pension Fund Administrators (PFA’s).
“Leadway Pensure Limited is not in breach of the Investment Regulation by investing pension funds in the equities of FBN Holding Plc.

“Records which can be confirmed from the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that the equity investments in FBN Holdings Plc are in the name of the pension fund on behalf of the RSA holders,” it said.

According to PenCom, pension fund assets are managed by licensed PFAs and held in custody by Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs) on behalf of RSA holders and other beneficiaries of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), in line with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014 (PRA 2014).

“In view of the foregoing, PenCom reiterates that there was no breach of its Investment Regulation whatsoever and urged the general public to be guided accordingly,” it said.

The commission, however, restated its commitment to fulfilling its regulatory and supervisory functions as well as ensuring the safety of pension assets and the soundness of the pension industry.

The clarifications by PenCom would appear to put to rest claims that Tunde Hassan-Odukale and related entities own a 5.36 per cent stake in FBNH — which would have made him the single largest shareholder.

After Femi Otedola, the billionaire businessman, acquired a 5.07 per cent stake in FBNH, Seye Kosoko, the company secretary, had written to the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) attributing Leadway Pensure PFA’s entire 2.11 per cent stake to Hassan-Odukale.

Kosoko also listed 1.36 per cent of the “ZPC/Leadway Assurance Prem & Inv Coll Acct” investment in favour of Hassan-Odukale.
The latest development is bound to reconfigure the shareholding structure in the holding company.