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Board Applauds Emuwa for Union Bank’s Exceptional Transformation

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Emuwa Union Bank

By Ahmed Rahma

The Managing Director of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Mr Emeka Emuwa, has been applauded by the board of directors for transforming the company.

Mr Emuwa joined the old generation bank in November 2012 and under eight years, he exceptionally revamped the financial institution, making it a disruptor in the banking sector in the country.

However, like the Yoruba adage that says o wuni ka j’eran pe lenu, sugbon ounfa ona’fun ni koje (which loosely means it is desirable to eat meat for long but for the oesophagus), Mr Emuwa has to go and pass the baton to another person.

In a statement on Monday, Union Bank announced that from March 31, 2021, the MD/CEO will retire from the financial institution and will also step down from the board.

He will be replaced by Mr Emeka Okonkwo, who has a similar vision for the bank and whose appointment is subject to the approval of the Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN).

In a statement, the chairman of the board of Union Bank, Mrs Beatrice Hamza Bassey, praised the outgoing bank chief for his contribution to the company.

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“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Emeka Emuwa for leading Union Bank during the last eight years. His exceptional contribution to the transformation of the business produced excellent results and set a solid platform for growth.

“The focus over the last eight years on technology transformation, digital innovation, and development of diverse markets for our world-class range of products has seen Union Bank well-positioned to continue growing from its current position as a market disruptor.

“Amid a tough macroeconomic environment, Union Bank maintained steady operational momentum under Emeka’s leadership which in 2020 culminated in the first dividend payment to investors and shareholders in over ten years.

“His many significant achievements, including providing steady stewardship during the unprecedented challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, lays a solid springboard for the future.

“We wish him the very best and are grateful for his support and commitment to ensure a successful transition over the next few months,” Mrs Bassey said.

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She also welcomed Mr Okonkwo, the incoming CEO with 30 years of experience, noting that, “Having been a key contributor to the achievements of the bank over the past seven years as an executive director, Emeka Okonkwo is well suited to lead Union Bank’s next phase of growth. The board and I look forward to working with him to execute our strategy and deliver value to all stakeholders in the years ahead.”

Commenting on his planned exit from the lender next year, Mr Emuwa said, “I have enjoyed the significant challenge of leading Union Bank over the last eight years. I am extremely proud of the management team and what we have been able to accomplish during my time as CEO.

“Today, we have a strong bank that is well-positioned to compete and deliver on its vision to be ‘Nigeria’s most trusted and reliable partner.’ With a clear strategic direction, a growing and loyal customer base and a strong brand, this is now the natural time for the next generation of leadership to take Union Bank forward and deliver further value.

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“In over three decades of banking, my time at Union Bank has been one of the richest experiences in a long and fulfilling career with a treasure of work and life lessons to carry into the future. Together as a team, we scaled many hurdles and accomplished significant feats and I would like to thank my Executive team, senior management and every one of our employees for their integrity, support and hard work that has brought Union Bank to where it is today.

“I would also like to thank the board for the opportunity to lead this storied institution that has impacted generations of Nigerians for over a century and for supporting our efforts and vision during my tenure.

“As we begin the transition into a new era of leadership under Emeka Okonkwo, a consummate professional with the right experience and values, I know that Union Bank will continue on its path as a value-driven organisation that is deeply committed to our customers and the communities we serve.”

Ahmed Rahma is a journalist with great interest in arts and craft. She is also a foodie who loves new ideas. She loves to travel and would love to visit other African countries someday. She is a sucker for historical movies and afrobeat.

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Banking

London Stock Exchange Lists Ecobank $350m Sustainability Bond

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ecobank retail bank

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The $350 million sustainability bond issued by Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), the parent company of the Ecobank Group, has been listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

The green bond was admitted on the LSE on Wednesday at a virtual ceremony to open the market for the trading day and celebrate the successful listing of the tier-2 environment-friendly notes, the first by a financial institution in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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The bond, which matures in June 2031, has a call option in June 2026 and was issued with a coupon of 8.75 per cent with interest payable semi-annually in arrears.

An equivalent amount of the net proceeds from the notes will be used by Ecobank to finance or refinance new or existing eligible assets as described in the bank’s Sustainable Finance Framework.

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The tier-2 issuance is the first to have a Basel III-compliant 10NC5 structure outside of South Africa in 144A/RegS format.

It was gathered that investor interest for this sophomore Eurobond issue was global, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, achieving a 3.6x oversubscribed order book of over $1.3 billion at its peak.

The joint lead managers and book runners in the transaction were Citi, Mashreq, Renaissance Capital and Standard Chartered Bank.

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“The strong global interest in our issuance reflects investors’ confidence in Ecobank’s strategy and our commitment to sustainable financing.

“We thank the LSE for hosting ETI today and look forward to value creation for all our stakeholders,” the Group CEO of Ecobank, Mr Ade Ayeyemi, said.

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Banking

CBN’s Digital Currency Will Deepen Financial Inclusion—FDC

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Summon CBN Governor

By Adedapo Adesanya

Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) Limited has lauded the proposed plan by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to introduce a digital currency, saying it will deepen financial inclusion in the country.

In a new report, FDC explained that most central banks had indicated keen interests in developing their digital currencies in response to the threats and limitations of cryptocurrency, including poor regulation, price volatility and facilitating illicit financial transactions.

The report said, “Nigeria is set to follow the global trend as it plans to launch its digital currency by year-end. Unlike crypto, digital currencies are regulated by central banks, thus giving them some level of control over the financial system.

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“On a positive note, virtual currencies would facilitate smooth financial transactions and eliminate bottlenecks associated with the use of cash (mutilated notes, forgery, cash handling charges, shortages). It will also deepen financial inclusion and increase the velocity of circulation.”

The analysis highlighted the rising concerns of distrust in the government and its policies, cybersecurity and inadequate digital infrastructure.

“All these could limit the launch and widespread use of the digital currency in the country,” it said.

According to the report, the drop in inflation rate in May for the second straight month contradicts market reality following the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which disclosed that the country’s inflation rate fell to 17.93 per cent in May from 18.12 per cent in April.

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FDC said contrary to analyst expectations, the decline in consumer price inflation seemed to be more of a trend than a blip.

It said the headline inflation fell again in May primarily due to a fall in the food sub-index to 22.28 per cent from 22.72 per cent in April.

This is coming as the CBN last year issued a circular asking commercial banks and other financial institutions to close accounts transacting in, or operating on, cryptocurrency exchanges.

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All deals involving cryptocurrency are now prohibited with severe regulatory sanctions awaiting erring outfits.

The apex bank also asked commercial banks to identify persons and or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.

But since the apex bank announced its intention to introduce a digital currency for the country, it has been applauded.

Apart from the FDC, other analysts have submitted that the proposed CBN’s digital currency would benefit the nation, especially as the digital asset is becoming widely accepted across the globe.

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Banking

CIBN to Revamp Banking Practice in Nigeria With A-TEAM Initiative

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CIBN A-TEAM Initiative

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A strategic initiative aimed to revamp banking practice in Nigeria has been introduced by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

The new plan with the acronym A-TEAM means Accelerated Development; Technology and Digital Enhancement; Engagement for Growth; Accountability and Transparent Leadership and Membership Drive for Value.

As part of efforts for its successful implementation, the CIBN is seeking collaborations with financial institutions in the country.

Recently, the President/Chairman of Council, CIBN, Mr Bayo Olugbemi, visited Ecobank Nigeria and he said the A-TEAM initiative will benefit stakeholders in the banking sector.

He applauded Ecobank’s consistent support for the institute over the years to ensure the realisation of its mandate of determining the standards of knowledge and skills development for those seeking to become members of the banking profession.

“We applaud Ecobank Academy as the first corporate member to become a member of the Global Business School Network and for the consistent support for the realisation of the institute’s mandate of determining the standards of knowledge and skills to be attained by persons seeking to become members of the banking profession.

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“We, therefore, seek Ecobank’s collaboration and enlistment in our Endowment/Prize Awards in any subject of interest; support towards the renovation of Abuja Bankers’ House; support for the establishment of banking museum by donating artefacts and other relevant materials; and to participate actively in training programmes of the institute,” Mr Olugbemi said.

Further, he congratulated Ecobank Nigeria and the Ecobank Group on winning several International awards, which includes the Best Retail Bank in Nigeria by Asian Banker; Africa’s Best Bank for Corporate Responsibility by Euromoney (Ecobank Group); African Bank of the Year (African Banker); Innovation in Financial Services Award from African Banker (Ecobank Group); EMEA Finance African Banking Awards 2020.

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Responding, the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, pledged more support and collaboration with the institute, restating that Ecobank will continue to contribute to the efforts of the organisation to become top class and remain relevant globally.

“For us at Ecobank, we are extremely proud CIBNs efforts at ensuring public discourse on the future of the Nigeria economy and the banking and finance industry.

“This is not in isolation of the ethics, professionalism, accountability, transparency, good corporate governance without losing focus of harnessing the opportunities technology has provided in the new world order. Be assured of our maximum support and collaboration at all times,” he said.

Mr Akinwuntan also identified with the efforts of the institute to raise the bar of competency and capacity building in the industry, stressing that with sound professional conduct, every banker will be held in high esteem.

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He said Ecobank was working assiduously to ensure a majority of its staff become members of the institute, adding that the bank will also provide more mentees and mentors in its mentorship programme.

“We have a medium to long term programme to ensure all Ecobank Nigeria staff become chartered members of the institute.

“At Ecobank, we take human capacity development very seriously. Some of our staff that wrote the last examinations are now chartered members of the Institute.

“We will also ensure bulk subscription of our staff. We will be nominating 30 mentors and 100 mentees to participate in the second mentorship programme,” he assured.

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