Outstanding debt: AMCON takes over Daily Times of Nigeria assets

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The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on Tuesday took over the assets of Daily Times Nigeria Plc, a foremost media establishment over huge outstanding loan.
The corporation in a statement signed by its Head, Corporate Communications, Mr Jude Nwauzor, said that the take over was in continuation of AMCON recovery activities in the new financial year.
The statement said that AMCON took over the assets today Feb. 13, through Mr Gbenga Fakoya SAN.
It said that the takeover followed the Federal High Court ruling on Feb. 1, 2018, presided over by Justice I.N Buba which ordered AMCON to take over the Daily Times.
“But having exhausted all avenues of peaceful resolution over the huge outstanding debt owed AMCON by the Daily Times Plc, the Federal High Court on February 1, 2018, presided over by Honourable Justice I. N Buba ordered AMCON to take over the Daily Times”, it said.
The statement said that the court by the said order restrained the directors, shareholders, agents, servants, privies and /or employees howsoever described from preventing AMCON from taking possession of the Daily Times.
It added that AMCON had complied by effectively taking over the Daily Times on Feb. 13, 2018.
The statement said that AMCON was interested in the recovery of the debt and not the ownership of the media empire.
The Federal Government of Nigeria held 96.05 per share shares in Daily Times through NICON Insurance Plc.
The Federal Government during the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2004, called for bids from the general public as it sought to divest its stake in the oldest newspaper conglomerate.
Consequently, Folio Communications Ltd, owned by Fidelis Anosike and his brother Noel Anosike tendered a bid for the said shares and was confirmed by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), as the most preferred bidder for the shares.
The BPE sold to Folio at the cost of N1.25 billion.
The statement said that since the 2004 privatisation exercise, Folio Communications had been embattled with court cases following a loan of N750 million from Hallmark Bank Plc, which it secured to enable it pay for the newspaper company.
“Folio also got DSV Limited promoted by Sen Ikechukwu Obiorah to invest the sum of N500 million in the purchase of the shares with the understanding that upon concluding the transaction, DSV would be entitled to 40 per cent of the shareholding of the media empire.
A year after the sale, Hallmark Bank Plc (now defunct), Folio Communications Ltf, promoted by the Anosike brothers/Daily Times of Nigeria Plc and DSV Limited, promoted by Obiorah commenced several legal battles over the real ownership of the newspaper.
In 2010, AMCON purchased the loan from the then Afribank Plc, which later became Mainstreet Bank.
Consequently, Folio Communications Limited also dragged AMCON to court on several claims while  Obiorah commenced an action against the Corporation in the name of Daily Times Plc at the Federal High Court vide suit no: FHC/L/CS/ 1254 /15 – the Daily Times Nigeria Plc vs AMCON”, it said.
The statement said that both suits were, however, struck out by the respective courts.

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