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By Peter Egwuatu
The N10 billion rights issue by Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) Plc closes this Friday amidst expectations that the success of the Issue would herald a new period of stable growth for the first generation bank.

UBN is offering about 1.41 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N6.81 per share in the ratio of five new ordinary shares for every nine ordinary shares held as at the October 21, 2011. The application list had opened on December 14 and was initially scheduled to close on Friday January 20, 2012.

However, with a third of the offer period taken over by yuletide holidays and nationwide protests and strike over removal of fuel subsidy, the bank applied and secured extension of the offer period to Friday February 10, 2012 from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The extension of the offer period was part of efforts by the bank, to ensuring that all shareholders have opportunity to pick their Rights.

Shareholders may still however, explore the two-week grace period for stockbrokers to file returns with the issuing houses to further increase their shareholdings in the bank.

The Executive Director Corporate, International and Investment Banking and Treasury of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Mr. Philip Ikeazor, said that updates from registrars, issuing houses, stockbrokers and other parties to the Rights Issue indicates strong subscriptions with hundreds of thousands of shareholders that had already filed in their applications.

He said that the Board would ensure that all shareholders received their Rights in full, noting that with the approval of the scheme of arrangement for the recapitalisation and subsequent reconstruction of its shares , the Rights Issue is the last phase of the bank's recapitalisation.

'We are desirous and eager to redeem our earlier pledge of giving opportunities to the existing shareholders to take up their Rights in line with their clamour to do so during the recapitalisation process,' Ikeazor said.

Managing director, Union Registrars Limited, the registrars to the issue, Mr. Tunde Ayeni, said shareholders who have not submitted their application forms can still do so at any of the branches of the bank or Union Registrars nationwide.

According to him, the extensive networks of the bank and the Registrars provide access to the 500,000 shareholders of the bank and shareholders should take advantage of these avenues to resolve any issue concerning the rights issue.

He added that the bank has also provided extensive communication channels for shareholders to interact with the officials of the bank and parties to the issue in resolving any complaint.

Speaking on the values inherent in the rights, managing director, Union Capital Markets Limited, Mr. Tunde Yamah, said Union Bank's Rights Issue was the most attractive offer in the financial markets now with inherent value to yield above money market instruments and other equities.