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CBN Sells Polaris Bank to Strategic Capital Investment Limited

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Polaris Bank Rewards Customers

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has completed the sale of Polaris Bank Limited to Strategic Capital Investment Limited (SCIL).

In September 2018, the CBN revoked the operating licence of Skye Bank Plc and nationalised it to Polaris Bank. The financial institution was then transferred to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

After over four years, the apex bank has now announced a new core investor of the bank. The new owners will operate the financial institution.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Director of Corporate Communications at the CBN, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, disclosed that SCIL had acquired a 100 per cent equity stake in Polaris Bank.

“SCIL has paid an upfront consideration of N50 billion to acquire 100% of the equity of Polaris Bank and has accepted the terms of the agreement, which include the full repayment of the sum of N1.305 trillion, being the consideration bonds injected.

“The CBN thus received an immediate return for the value it has created in Polaris Bank during the stabilisation period, as well as ensuring that all funds originally provided to support the intervention are recovered.

“The sale was coordinated by a Divestment Committee comprising representatives of the CBN and AMCON and advised by legal and financial consultants. The Committee conducted a sale process by ‘private treaty’, as provided in Section 34(5) of the AMCON Act to avoid negative speculations, retain value and preserve financial system stability.

“In the process, parties who had formally expressed an interest in acquiring Polaris Bank subsequent to the CBN intervention in 2018 were invited to submit financial and technical proposals. Invitations to submit proposals were sent to 25 pre-qualified interested parties, out of which three (3) parties eventually submitted final purchase proposals following technical evaluation.

“All submissions were subject to a rigorous transaction process from which SCIL emerged as the preferred bidder, having presented the most comprehensive technical/financial purchase proposal as well as the highest rated growth plans for Polaris Bank,” the statement said.

In his reaction to the sale of Polaris Bank, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said, “This sale marks the completion of a landmark intervention in a strategic institution in the Nigerian banking sector by the CBN and AMCON.

“We commend the outgoing board and management for their vital role since the bridge bank was established; in stabilising the Bank’s operations, its balance sheet and implementing strong governance structures to address the issues that led to the intervention.

“This process has provided the CBN with an unprecedented opportunity to recover its intervention funds in full and promote financial stability and inclusive growth.

“We wish SCIL well as they implement growth plans to build the bank from the strong foundations that have been established.”

Banking

Appeal Court Exonerates Zenith Bank, Fines Real Integrated & Hospitality

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zenith bank plc

By Dipo Olowookere

Justice Muhammed Sirajo of a court of appeal sitting in Lagos has upturned the judgement of Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Lagos State High Court against Zenith Bank Plc.

On March 8, 2022, Justice Abike-Fadipe directed Zenith Bank to pay Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited an interest of 15 per cent per annum on N872.8 million from May 17, 2011, when the advanced payment guarantees expired till judgment and thereafter at the rate of 10 per cent per annum until final liquidation.

The company and the Gombe State Universal Basic Education Board (Gombe SUBEB) had sued the lender for an alleged breach of contract after Zenith Bank, on October 7, 2011, did not allow the firm to withdraw funds from its account.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the financial institution filed an appeal in suit number CA/LAG/CV/262/2022.

Ruling on the matter on Wednesday, the three-man panel of the appellate court unanimously upturned the judgement of the lower court on the ground that the trial court was wrong to have presumed that the bank withheld the full account statement of Real Integrated in the light of Exhibit C6 (the comprehensive Statement of Account of Real Integrated), which was tendered by the bank for a limited purpose.

The court further held that there was no need for the lower court to have invoked Section 167 (d) of the Evidence Act, 2011 against the bank and, thereafter, awarded a cost of N200,000 against Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited and in favour of Zenith Bank.

Business Post gathered that the counsels of Zenith Bank, led by Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) and Mr Sylva Ogwemoh (SAN), had challenged Justice Abike-Fadipe’s decision to award N2.5 million against the bank as the cost of the action in favour of Real Integrated.

The legal team argued that the lender acted in full compliance with its contractual obligations in line with the Advanced Payment Guarantee (APG) contract and that the trial court was wrong in its judgement.

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Banking

CABS Zimbabwe Secures $10m Loan to Support Growth Strategy

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CABS Zimbabwe

By Dipo Olowookere

A $10 million credit facility has been obtained by Central Africa Building Society (CABS) Zimbabwe, a member of the Old Mutual Group, from Norsad Capital.

The impact investor and private creditor provider approved the loan to the bank to support its growth strategy, as the funds would be used to offer loans to CABS Zimbabwe’s export clients, particularly in the agricultural sector.

“This investment aligns with Norsad’s sectoral theme of Financial Institutions as well as the impact focus on financial inclusion and sustainable livelihoods, the Investment Director at Norsad Capital and transaction lead, Ms Carol-Jean Harward, said.

“The transaction will capacitate the exporting industry by providing working capital and capital expenditure facilities to sectors in agriculture and manufacturing.

“We are excited to partner with CABS as it plays a catalytic role in unlocking opportunities to enable local farmers and SMEs to export both regionally and internationally,” she added.

In his remarks, the Deputy Managing Director of CABS, Mr Cecil Ndoro, said, “Norsad’s funding will help strengthen CABS’ balance sheet by providing medium-term funding as well as capacitating the exporting industries by providing working capital and capital expenditure facilities, thus boosting the country’s foreign currency earnings.

“As CABS, we will deploy the funds to the productive export sectors, notably agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and tourism.

“The focus will be on the generation of foreign currency, creation of employment and value chain financing for the benefit of industry players and the economy at large. The investment will promote entrepreneurship, enable growth, and improve livelihoods.”

CABS is one of the top three banks in Zimbabwe and was established as a building society in 1949 before being granted approval by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in 2011 to engage in full commercial banking operations.

The lender has 38 operational branches, over 900 agents, and the largest Point of Sales machine network of about 25,000 countrywide. This adds to its digital banking offering, which includes Mobile, Internet, and WhatsApp Banking.

The agricultural sector is key to Zimbabwe’s economy for domestic production, exports, and employment; hence, Norsad’s facility supports sustainable livelihoods and builds a better Africa by impacting lives.

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Banking

30 Corps Members Get Unity Bank’s N10m Grant

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30 corps members

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Thirty members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have been given a grant of N10 million after a business pitch presentation held across 10 of the 36 states of the federation.

The funding support was provided by Unity Bank Plc through its Unity Bank Entrepreneurship Development Initiative, known as Corpreneurship Challenge.

It is targeted at empowering fresh graduates and corps members on one-year compulsory national youth service. The scheme is currently in its ninth edition.

A statement from the lender disclosed that the 30 corps members were picked from Rivers, Delta, Sokoto, Edo, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Osun, Kano, Bayelsa, and Enugu, with each state producing three winners who took home cash grants of N500,000, N300,000 and N200,000.

For this edition, the beneficiaries focused on renewable energy, fashion, beauty, agro-processing, confectionaries, etc.

The winners emerged after their business plans were assessed by a panel looking out for business ideas that demonstrate originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product, and knowledge of the business.

Some of the winners at the Rivers State NYSC Orientation camp at Nonwa Gbam Tai included Muoneke Gift, whose business plan on renewable energy took home the grand prize of N500,000; followed by Ilesanmi Olamide’s business proposal on beauty services to claim the N300,000; and Ekanem Moses Idoreyin’s confectionary business proposal, which took home the N200,000.

Speaking during the finale at Rivers State NYSC Orientation Camp recently, the Group Head, Retail, E-Business, and SME Banking, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Olufunwa Akinmade, said the bank was delighted with the impressive records the Corpreneurship Challenge has pulled so far.

“When we launched the initiative in 2019, we set out to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs that will disrupt the job market by creating much-needed jobs across all sectors. Today, we have come a long way, and the Corpreneurship Challenge has lived up to its billing,” he said.

Represented by Regional Manager, Port Harcourt Region, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Eto Ukpe, Mr Akinmade reiterated the lender’s commitment to sustaining the initiative and mainstreaming the Corpreneurship Challenge as a reliable and impactful entrepreneurship and business empowerment and mentorship programme in the country.

“What we have today in the labour market is far from the ideal. However, it is not enough to keep complaining. We must make lemonade out of a lemon. We believe that the Corpreneurship Challenge has proved to be one of the most creative approaches to tackling the intractable crisis we have in the job market in Nigeria.

“Our goal is to expand this programme to all 36 states and sustain it for as long as possible to achieve record impact. We continue to encourage the winners to continue to learn the rudimentary lessons necessary to build a successful business.

“We emphasise that the budding entrepreneurs who take part in this initiative constantly think about the challenges they will face and put the same energy they all have displayed in preparing for this contest in their businesses as they face their post-service year ahead,” he stated.

The Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge has gradually joined the league of some of the most impactful, youth-focused entrepreneurship development initiatives in Nigeria, empowering no fewer than 100 young entrepreneurs over the past three years.

Recently, one of the beneficiaries in Sokoto, Ms Beulah Yusuf, who emerged as second runner-up in one of the editions, successfully launched her recycling business with the grant received from the bank.

She unveiled her products, widely acclaimed for addressing environmental pollution and waste management inefficiencies, underscoring the bank’s motivations to sustain the initiative.

The Corpreneurship Challenge, which has earned the bank national recognition for its impact on youth empowerment and job creation, has continued to elicit growing interest among the corps members, attracting over 2000 applicants and participation in every edition.

In partnership with the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), the initiative prominently features a business pitch presentation that provides the participants with the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win up to N500,000 cash in the business grant.

So far, Unity Bank has invested over N100 million in the initiative, which has now produced 118 winners since it was launched in 2019.

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