By NBF News

• Chike Obi
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has engaged 70 professional valuers to determine the appropriate values of assets and properties of borrowers transferred to the bad-assets company through loan-purchase agreements with banks.

AMCON has invested N3.14 trillion ($19.6billion) so far in the purchase of non-performing loans and recapitalisation of banks. With the bad debts taken over by the corporation, it now has assets spread across the country including real estate properties and shares that were used as collateral for loans.  AMCON also has shares in nearly all the banks in the country and several quoted companies.

Speaking at the inaugural visit of the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency to AMCON's office in Lagos, managing director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr. Mustapha Chike-Obi, said the engagement of professional valuers to evaluate all the properties spread across the country was part of AMCON's commitment to ensuring that its assets are managed and disposed off in a transparent process that extracts optimal returns for the tax payers.

In a statement made available to our correspondent, ChikeObi explained that AMCON's assets were primarily locked in the bad loans that it purchased and such assets would be realised upon enforcement of the loan agreements. He however, pointed out that AMCON usually engage and advise every debtor to explore possible ways of resolving the bad debt through loan restructuring and payment rescheduling. He noted that the corporation only foreclose assets of borrowers who are not willing to pay.

He said the corporation now has some 9,000 loans under its purview and it has developed institutional capacity to manage these efficiently and in the best interest of the general public, whose funds formed the basis of establishment of the corporation. While outlining the administrative structures and operations of the corporation to the lawmakers, Chike-Obi reiterated the commitment of the corporation to open and transparent administration, stressing that AMCON would always respond positively to any enquiry from the law makers and the general public.

'We understand the need for legislative oversight and we will always respond positively. You don't have to wait for formal occasions before asking questions, AMCON can be reached anytime so that we can provide answers to your concerns and help us pass these to your various constituencies,' Chike-Obi said. Chairman, House Committee on Banking and Currency, Hon. Jones Onyereri, said the lawmakers have decided to increase the momentum of their oversight functions in order to strengthen national institutions.

He pointed out that the visit to AMCON was to gain better understanding of the structures and operations of the corporation and to assess these in line with the Act that established it. He said the committee was worried about the plight of shareholders of the nationalised banks and other recapitalised banks. He urged financial services regulators to look at this issue again and make provisions for these shareholders.

He said several of the affected shareholders were minority shareholders who invested their little savings based on the advice they were given and assurances by the regulators.