By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises(BPE) have signed an agreement for the sale of the Federal Government’s 12.4 billion shares in Nigerian Security Printing and Minting company (NSPM) to CBN.
The ceremony was chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is the Chairman, National Council on Privatisation (NCP) at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday.
Osinbajo said that the event was a landmark in the privatisation journey of the country.
“`I am delighted to witness this signing of the sale of 12.4 billion shares of NSPM Plc to the CBN.
“ I think this is an important event in our privatisation journey. Many, of course, will recall that in the past 30 years or so over 140 publicly-owned companies have been privatised.
“This is, perhaps, one of the very largest that has been privatised so far.
“The very idea of selling public asset to credible investors is one that is fundamental to our economic philosophy.’’
The vice president said that security printing had taken new dimensions as it was no longer what it used to be.
According to him, there are new assets, new dimensions and new ideas and it is just the private sector that can really be at the cutting edge of technology and innovation.
“ I think that particular union between the CBN and De La Rue-the technical partners is good; and we believe that as time goes on even better expertise will be drawn into the company.
“And we think that this is possibly one of the best moves that have occurred especially with respect to the National Security Printing and Minting Company,’’ he said.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria would reap bountifully from the deal.
In his remark, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said that the capacity of the mint had increased and expanded and it produced all the currency that was needed in the country.
He said that the company’s capacity had been expanded to where it had idle capacity that could produce of other ECOWAS countries.
“We intend to embark on aggressive marketing to see to it that it not only produces for itself but also produces for other important stakeholders that may require its services in the area of currency printing.
“In the area of security document, we are working assiduously given the fact that the mint was in the past produced passports and produced visas and other very sensitive security documents.
“Our next phase is to see to it that the NSPM eventually begins the printing of the digital Nigerian passport. That request is already being granted.
“The board of the NSPM will be meeting to see what else is needed to retool this company and ensure that it performs its responsibility,” he said.
On his part, the Director-General, BPE, Mr Alex Okoh, said he was pleased to report that CBN’s strategic investment in the company was a success-achieving its objective of turning around the fortunes of the company-returning it to profitability.
He said there were commendable indications of the progress recorded by NSPM under the strategic engagement of CBN.
“Following the expiration of the strategic investment period, the CBN indicated its strong intention to acquire the company on an arm’s length basis.
“The sensitive nature of the security printing and minting services rendered by the company included immigration and electoral materials.
“Accordingly, after a careful consideration of the pertinent issues, the Bureau made a proposal to the NCP to formalise the sale of 21 per cent of the Federal Government’s interest in the company to the CBN while government would retain an equity holding of 10.1 per cent.
“This proposal was approved by the council.
“Having received a professional advice from its financial and legal advisers and following a series of negotiations with CBN, an agreement was reached on the terms of the sale.
“I am pleased to announce that this transaction will contribute a net sum of over N17 billion to the treasury,’’ he said.
He said that the Federal Government was handing over to CBN a company with tremendous potential to achieve significant growth.