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Pascal Dozie’s legacy and Diamond Bank’s acquisition

Truth is I was extremely sad with a mix of anger when the process of acquiring or merger of Diamond Bank by Access Bank started sometime last year.

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Truth is I was extremely sad with a mix of anger when the process of acquiring or merger of Diamond Bank by Access Bank started sometime last year.

I was pained because aside from Fidelity Bank, Diamond Bank was the only bank that can stand tall and side by side with its tier one counterparts. Also being a fully owned Southeast bank, I felt we have lost something, a great institution due to mismanagement of the son of the founder (Uzoma Dozie) who invariably was the last Chief Executive Officer (CEO) before the acquisition/merger.

Pascal Dozie is an astute banker and businessman being the brain behind the success of MTN Nigeria and chairman for over 16 years before his retirement.

I couldn’t fathom how he would have allowed that to happen under his watch. I’m someone that is very close to the financial sector and its individual players. I watch everyone closely and try to understand their business model. I believe I’ve learnt enough and only hope that the mistake of my past won’t repeat as I attempt to give it another short. I was also an average upcoming player in that sector up until 2017…That’s story for another day.

Let’s move on with the post please.

There was something that happened some years back during the recapitalization of the insurance sector.

ADIC Insurance is owned by my kinsman, my maternal relative. Professor Irukwu, the chairman of ADIC gave me my first ever job at ADIC in 1997 as an intern.

In 2007, he couldn’t recapitalize ADIC, maybe out of old age because he was already retired and his daughter was then CEO. He approached Pascal Dozie, his long term friend to buy his company of which Pascal obliged him and 80 percent of ADIC was sold to Diamond Bank while Professor Irukwu retained 20 percent and his daughter retained her CEO position.

Professor Irukwu being a smart Alek that he is, used the proceeds of that buyout to buy major shares in Diamond Bank making him one of the single majority shareholders of Diamond Bank.

This one shake me small and that was when I started learning the game from the masters themselves. These were masters of the game and I am not surprised.

Professor Irukwu retained 20 percent of his company and held single majority share in the bank that bought him, and still profited from the huge prospect from underwriting transactions that will come from the bank.

Ever since then, though I was opportune to sit under the tutelage of the likes of Bunmi Oni, the then CEO of Cadbury Nigeria Limited when he thought ‘Boardroom Strategy’ in Lagos Business School (LBS).

My penchant for corporate Nigeria didn’t start today and I have always opined in most of my discourse that the average corporate Nigerian dude is smarter than your political class. He isn’t just ready to be a ‘yes man’ over some small tens of millions that will sooner or later attract political minions and EFCC that won’t allow him have a sound sleep.

So, back to my story. I wasn’t happy at all. We only have one bank standing from Eastern Nigeria i.e. Fidelity Bank and feared for my life that Diamond Bank shouldn’t happen to them too.

It’s all about legacy and bragging rights for me. I believe that people’s sweat shouldn’t just go down without an attempt to salvage whatever situation that might have caused the downturn. These kind of successes from one’s kinsmen is a factor of motivation. If they can, I can too.

So, I went through Forbes list for the past five years and didn’t see Pascal Dozie’s name in any of them except for the 2020 list where he is rated as the 5th richest man in Nigeria with an estimated asset and cash of over half a trillion in Naira value. This figure can buy Access Bank over and over again.

Whatever it is that he did in letting Diamond Bank go, I believe it is in the best interest of the family wealth and legacy. Uzoma, his son, really messed up after Alex Otti left. He couldn’t hold it together. The strategist had to save the day. Keep the wealth at least as against losing everything due to bad management.

He will, when the Almighty calls, exit this earth as a happy and successful man knowing that his wealth is being transferred to the next generation. I believe he would have used his experience to have a solid negotiation with the then operators of Access Bank to get a very good payoff.

Once again, never underestimate the OGs in the financial sector. They are in a class all by themselves.


* Chris Ogbonnaya writes from Nigeria

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