Union Homes: Investors spoil for war over divestment

Investors who put their life savings in Union Homes, a subsidiary of Union Bank, have raised the alarm that their savings in the mortgage company are no longer secured. Most of the investors who reacted to an earlier story in Daily Sun Newspaper about Aso Savings’ interest in Union Homes are unhappy that the company they invested in could not contact them to intimate them on the way the company is going.

One of the investors, Mr. John E. Okelue, wrote Daily Sun Newspaper saying, “I invested my entire gratuity with the bank, after so many years of hard work. I had to invest with them because I had the belief that my money would be safe and secure there.

“Towards the end of last year (2013), I suspected that the bank may have become insolvent or drifting in that direction and decided to terminate my investment with them. To my greatest surprise, their responses have remained negative. Your recent publication in the Daily Sun of March 26 edition (page 48) appears to have rekindled some hope in me that someone is there fighting my cause,” Okelue said.

Another group led by Mr. Nzube Emeka complained that they have patronised the mortgage bank for over 11 years and when they noticed some plans by the mother company to divest, they tried to terminate their account with them but they have not helped out. “We are among the fixed deposit customers. Let the company educate us on how to get back our money.” Other customers who signed the memo to Daily Sun Newspaper include Ijeoma Onyeaka, Nzube Jonathan, Nonso Obioma and Udoma Anyaogu.

Following the divestment of Union Bank from Union Homes, a subsidiary of Union Bank Plc, Aso Savings & Loans Plc recently indicated interest to acquire Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc (UHSL).

The company disclosed this through a notice to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) that as part of Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) approved restructuring exercise, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc (UBN) has decided to sell Union Homes.

The notice added that, ‘‘after a bidding process, Aso Savings was selected as the preferred bidder in October, 2013,’’ the PMI said.

The company stated that to achieve the set objective, it proceeded to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Union Bank under the supervision of CBN.

The company’s board also approved the bank to implement a Transaction Implementation Agreement (TIA) between Aso Savings, Union Homes Investment Nigeria Limited (UHNL), Union Homes Savings and Loans and Union Bank of Nigeria.

“The TIA was executed and submitted to CBN on December 31, 2013. UHNL is the special purpose vehicle through which ASO will acquire the UBN divested shares and recapitalise UHSL.”

Aso Savings noted that, “subsequent to the execution of the TIA, CBN has issued a ‘No Objection Letter’ permitting ASO to proceed with the transaction. This is required to enable ASO proceed with the signing of a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) between ASO and UBN Plc.”

The bank last week said it would sell off all its non-banking subsidiaries by the end of 2014 to focus on core banking activities.

Meanwhile, following the increasing cost of decent accommodation in the country, the Federal Government is looking in the direction of finding the real reason citizens cannot afford decent accommodation in major cities.

In its efforts to increase support for affordable decent housing for Nigerians, the Ministry of Finance, which is reviewing Federal Government projects in 2013, said the inauguration of Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) on January 16, 2014 was to facilitate decent and affordable housing for the citizenry.

The ministry said it reviewed the country’s housing policy with a view to finding ways of stemming the acute shortage of decent accommodation and reviving the housing sector.

It said the new mortgage company would enhance the provision of more houses at affordable prices nationwide, adding that NMRC was established to reinvigorate the housing and construction sector.

“NMRC will help increase liquidity in the housing sector, provide secondary market for mortgages and thereby increase the number of people able to purchase or build homes at affordable price in the country,” it said.

The report said that 14 pilot states have been earmarked for the programme, adding that state governors have agreed to provide and fast track land titles, foreclosure arrangements and service plots.