AMCON Would Not Have Moved Into Arik If Shareholder Fund Were Not Eroded

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has said it would not comment on the suit instituted by shareholders of Arik Air against the Federal Government and Ethiopian Airlines over purported talks to rescue the troubled carrier, especially when those that took the legal action ‘in their wisdom’ did not mention AMCON in the suit.

However, the government debt recovery agency stated that the fact that the Arik is hugely indebted to various creditors to the tune of over N300bn, and has been taken over by the corporation meant that the shareholder funds were eroded meaning the shareholders of Arik have nothing to hold on to again.

AMCON spokesperson, Jude Nwauzor, told our correspondent on the telephone that if the erstwhile owners of the airline come forward and settle the indebtedness, the corporation would immediately call a press conference and hand the company over back to them. He also reiterated AMCON’s earlier position that it was not in any current discussion with the management of Ethiopian Airlines for the takeover of Arik.

According to Nwauzor, renowned auditing firm are currently carrying forensic audit of the airline’s books. He said, “We do not want to be distracted by these developments (like the law suit) because the Receivership Team at Arik has done and is still doing a fantastic job of turning things around at Arik and the general public especially those that patronize Arik will attest to the impressive changes. They have not completed their assignment, hence a decision cannot be taken yet on the future of the carrier.”

Arik Air shareholders recently filed a court case against the government and Ethiopian Airlines in an attempt to halt any talk over the sale of the airline, which controlled around 55 per cent of the domestic market. The shareholders are also challenging in court the takeover of the airline by AMCON, even though they have also not denied the huge debt, which is the crux of the matter.

Nwauzor had told Reuters on Monday that AMCON was not in current negotiation with Ethiopian Airlines and would want to resolve all court cases in addition to receiving the report of the receiver manager before taking any action on the future of its intervention in Arik. AMCON took over the day-to-day running of Arik Air earlier in the year precisely on February 9, in an attempt to rescue the airline from imminent collapse. At the time, Arik was unable to pay workers or creditors. It was also fraught with flight cancellations along all of its routes and destinations among other troubles all of which are history presently.

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