Court Restrains RBTT�s Takeover

A commercial court in Accra yesterday restrained the Republic Bank of Trinidad & Tobago (RBTT) from going ahead to take over HFC Bank Ghana. This follows an interlocutory injunction filed recently by HFC Bank Ghana Limited over the foreign bank�s take-over moves. According to Justice George Koomson, who presided over the issue, the application filed by HFC Bank had merit. RBTT and the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) had initially argued that HFC Bank�s application lacked merit and therefore should be disallowed. But the judge indicated that SEC had compromised itself in some of the issues it has raised. According to him, HFC Bank acted appropriately by taking the issue out of SEC�s jurisdiction to the law courts. The case was expected to be finally determined yesterday, but the two contending parties are expected to make fresh submissions in court. By the foregoing, RBTT�s timeline it gave to take over HFC Bank cannot materialize. It would be recalled that two individual shareholders of HFC Bank recently filed a legal action to challenge the takeover of HFC Bank by RBTT. In an ex-parte motion filed at the Commercial Division of the High Court, the shareholders are asking the courts to intervene in RBTT�s move to take over HFC, which they said was a profitable local bank. The shareholders, Messrs Kwasi Asante and Alfred Bortey of Accra and Tema respectively, indicated that there is already too much foreign interest in Ghana�s financial services sector. They added that nobody appeared to be interested in aiding the industry, noting that 14 out of the 26 banks operating in Ghana were foreign owned with 60 per cent of banking assets now in their possession. Lawyers for the bank from Central America called for the action to be dismissed so that RBTT could take over the bank. HFC Bank, which has recorded significant profits in the past, is a leading bank in the mortgage industry. Many Ghanaians, both home and abroad, have acquired homes through facilities provided by HFC.