The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has, in recent months, raised its debt recovery drive. Its Head of Corporate Communications, Jude Nwauzor speaks on the corporation’s rising commitment to recover delinquent loans and the criticisms they are generating, writes COLLINS NWEZE.
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has said it has recorded significant progress in debt recovery since it published its top 100 delinquent debtors earlier in the year.
Speaking in Lagos, AMCON Head of Corporate Communications, Jude Nwauzor said although the corporation is yet to publish new list of debtors, there has been positive developments in the areas of takeovers of assets, recoveries and resolutions. He said the corporation is in court with a good number of these obligors and could not reel out names.
On hindrances to debt recovery, he said: “There are a lot of factors. For example, we are in court with a good number of obligors and you know the wheel of justice in Nigeria grinds slowly, which presents some kind of temporary or extended cover for these debtors.
“If it is possible for the courts to give accelerated hearing to AMCON-related cases, recoveries would be a lot easier. Secondly, the harsh economic realities pose significant challenge. Nobody will shy away from the fact that the country has slipped into recession, which makes it even more difficult for both businesses and individuals.” Continuing, he said: “If that is the situation now, then you can imagine how difficult it has become for AMCON to recover or even dispose assets. But in the face of all these challenges, AMCON is undaunted because my MD/CEO reminds every member of staff in the Corporation that AMCON’s job remains a national assignment because the success of the corporation has direct effect on the success of the Nigerian economy.”
AMCON MD’s first one year in office
Assessing AMCON Managing Director/CEO, Ahmed Kuru’s first year in office, he said:
“I believe he has achieved a lot because he sort of hit the ground running, as it were, when he assumed office on August 18, last year. He has been engaging obligors in finding permanent resolution to their debts and I can tell you that a good measure of progress has been recorded. Do not forget he is dealing with debts that were hard-core with the commercial banks in the first instance before they arrived AMCON.”
Speaking further, he said: “Aside that, he has seriously sharpened the business processes in the corporation in addition to sound corporate governance. His administration in AMCON adopted aggressive recovery strategies that have led to increased repayment from hitherto recalcitrant obligors. He has also introduced some value enhanced exit plans through partnerships with investors to revive failing companies in AMCON’s portfolio, which will attract the much sort after foreign investors to the country.”
“Part of his strategy was the introduction of Asset Management Partners (AMPs) to assist the corporation in recoveries. The AMPs are consortiums with specialist skills required to ensure recovery and debt resolution; banking, legal, valuation and accounting. The move will make it possible for AMCON to resolve over 6,000 accounts with loan balances of N100 million and below,” he said.
Nwauzor explained that within the period, AMCON has successfully divested from other intervened banks outside of the bridged banks; intervened in Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN), a leading automobile manufacturer in the country, which saved a lot of jobs and guaranteed business continuity; repaid coupon on Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Note totaling N241.7 billion ($1.2 billion); repaid interest on CBN Debenture totaling N15 billion ($76.3 million) as well as working to stabilise the aviation sector through key strategic interventions in some of them that are experiencing distress due to the current economic situation in the country”.
“Without sounding immodest, I am very sure President Mohammadu Buhari must be impressed with his choice of Ahmed Kuru to steer the ship of AMCON at this challenging time in the history of the country. I say that because following a request from my boss, Mr. President, a few months back, inaugurated what he called Presidential Inter-Agency Committee on recovery of loans owed Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria. The committee is chaired by no other person than the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,” he added.
Forces against AMCON’s operations
Speaking on why some people are against AMCON and its activities despite its achievements in the industry, the AMCON spokesman said: “I would like you to take a critical look at the crop of individuals that are against AMCON; they fall within the category of die-hard debtors, who contributed in destabilising the Nigerian economy. Well-meaning Nigerians are happy with AMCON activities except a few that are heavily indebted, but trying hard to circumvent the law.”
Furthermore, he said: “Again, mention one disgruntled person that is not on the list of AMCON debtors. Those assets AMCON took over, which sparked off the spate of so-called attacks on AMCON, were done after we have explored all avenues and channels of peaceful resolutions; having fulfilled due judicial procedures. But unfortunately for them, sponsoring media articles against AMCON or hiring the ‘so-called industry experts’ will not erase the huge debt they owe the corporation and I am sure you know that such campaigns of calumny only strengthens our MD because he is not deterred and will never be deterred by such distractions.”
On whether AMCON will takeover more businesses
Speaking on the likelihood of the corporation taking over more businesses in the last quarter of this financial year, Nwauzor said: “It all depends on a number of legal and business dynamics. What I know is that AMCON will continue to take careful steps in discharging its assignments within the ambit of the law. In a subtle manner, the corporation will aggressively and decisively coerce all delinquent debtors to the path of resolution, especially now that we are in an era where sacred cows are no longer recognised or celebrated in Nigeria. Remember that Kuru proved himself as a change agent and a turn-around expert before arriving AMCON. He will replicate the same feat in AMCON.
“AMCON, more than ever before, has sharpened its resolution mechanism. However, obligors are given the opportunity to come forward; otherwise the full extent of the AMCON Act would be applied without favours.”