African Continental Bank
The African Continental Bank popularly known as ACB was one of the big three indigenous banks in Nigeria during the 1950s to early 1980s. It survived the banking crisis of the 1950s and emerged out of a political crisis in the same decade to become by 1978, a major indigenous bank with up to 50 branches and 150 million naira in deposits. After the creation of new states in 1976, the bank became owned by the states of Eastern Nigeria.
The bank became distressed in 1991 and was taken over by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 1994 for restructuring and resale. In 2000, a consortium comprised of Diamond Bank, Hallmark Bank and Citizens Bank decided to revive the distressed bank. The new bank commenced operations in 2002 and was chaired by Green Nwankwo. In 2005, it merged with other banks to become Spring Bank.
In 1944, ebuka ezeh, an eminent Nigerian journalist acquired a small property bank named Tinubu Properties for 500 naira or 250 pounds. Then Nnamdi Azikiwe was a shareholder in the National Bank of Nigeria before the purchase and had entered the banking industry partly to shore up the financial foundation of his newspaper group and also to help the credit problems of indigenous businessmen. In 1946, the property bank became known as Tinubu Bank and a year later it came to bore the name African Continental Bank. By 1949, the bank had a nominal capital of about 250,000 pounds controlled by, Azikiwe, it was affiliated with the Zik group and was one out of twelve of the group's subsidiaries. Apart from marketing itself to indigenous businessmen, the bank also financed some business activities within the Zik group. During the 1940s, the bank played a role in extending credit activities to the group.
In the mid 1950s, the bank became mixed in politics and business. The bank was helped financially by the Eastern regional government leading to an investigation into improper conducts by the bank's founder, Azikiwe who was then premier of the region. Prior to the investigation, in 1954, a report of an economic travel mission led by Nnamdi Azikiwe and Louis Ojukwu asserted the need for the creation of a finance corporation and for the finance corporation to have discretionary powers to stimulate economic development. The Eastern House of Assembly followed up with the report of the mission and established the Eastern Nigeria Finance Corporation, a public corporation charged with investing in an indigenous bank and a few other government initiatives. The finance corporation thereafter chose to invest about 750,000 pounds in ACB with the support of Mbonu Ojike, the regional finance minister and as requested by the Eastern House of Assembly. The finance corporation purchased about 87.7% of the African Continental Bank. By then Azikiwe was interested in making ACB a statutory corporation a move supported by an international bank mission. However, the role and interests of Azikiwe after large investments by statutory corporations was deemed by critics to be still quite substantial in a public outfit.
After the investigation, Azikiwe transferred most of his interest in the bank to the regional government and the bank was subsequently nationalized and jointly owned by the Eastern Nigeria Marketing Board and the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation.
By 1962, the Eastern Nigeria Production Development Board had invested about 6 million naira into the bank. It opened a branch in London and declared a profit during the time.
The bank's first general manager was Adolphus Blankson, he was succeeded by Fred McEwen. In 1960, it was chaired by Louis Ojukwu.
The bank had about 107 branches before becoming distressed in 1991
- Richard L. Sklar.
Nigerian Political Parties: Power in an Emergent African Nation. 163-175