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Diamond-Access Bank: A New Dawn for Investors, Shareholders

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A sound and competent banking sector is essential for a stable macroeconomic environment; therefore, the importance of commercial banks in a country cannot be overemphasized.

This is because they occupy key positions in a country’s financial system and are essential agents that would lead to the growth of any economy.

They also provide the bulk of money supply as well as the primary means of facilitating the flow of credit and so it is submitted that the economic well-being of a nation is a function of advancement and development of her banking industry.

As a result, the banking sector in Africa especially Nigeria has improved significantly due to impact of globalization in terms of technology, regulations and structure.

In achieving enhancement of capacity to support growth in the real sector, there is ample evidence that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) relied heavily on bank capital reforms in tackling problems of under-performance in the sector.  

Implementation of these reforms has often led to strategies which include merger and acquisitions –the two common strategies adopted in the implementation of consolidation programmes.

According to Investopedia, Mergers and Acquisitions have been shown to promote synergy in business operations as the performance of the emerging organization is often better than the sum of individual performances prior to the consolidation.

Hence, the fusion of two or more banks into a unified entity is expected to promote operational performance through improved competition, exploitation of economies of scale, facilitation of adoption of advanced technologies and higher level of operational efficiency.

Ultimately, the goal is to strengthen the intermediation role of banks and to ensure that they are able to perform their traditional role of enhancing economic growth as well as increasing customer base alongside palatable product offerings.

This clearly influences the ongoing corporate marriage between Access Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc.

The deal which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019, is set to birth over 29 million customers which is basically the largest customer base of any bank in the continent which might constitute about 600 branches, about 33,000 Point of Sale (POS) terminals as well as 13 million mobile customers.

Also, the two banks is set to have the largest alternative network channels  even as both financial institutions can now use their combined total of 3,100 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

Following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement and announcement of headline terms, which valued Diamond Bank at approximately N72.5 billion (about $200 million), will see Diamond Bank shareholders receive N3.13 per share in cash and shares. This means that Diamond Bank shareholders would receive a consideration of N3.13 per share, comprising N1 per share in cash and the allotment of two New Access Bank ordinary shares for every seven Diamond Bank ordinary shares held as at the Implementation Date.

Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, noted that the combination of the two businesses will create the largest retail bank in Africa by customer base and a very significant player in the Nigerian market while adding that this represents a huge step towards the delivery of the bank’s goal to bring the power of banking to millions of people across Nigeria and an exciting transaction for Access Bank and Diamond Bank’s customers, staff and shareholders.

Corroborating him, Chief Executive Officer, Diamond Bank Plc, Uzoma Dozie, said that the merger is positive for all of Diamond Bank stakeholders, including customers, employees and shareholders adding that customers will benefit significantly through the unrivalled combination of the best of Diamond Bank’s retail and digital leadership with the size of Access Bank’s balance sheet, corporate names and geographical reach.

“Customers are at the heart of our decision to create one of Nigeria’s leading banks. The combination of Access Bank and Diamond Bank will result in real benefits. The products and services that Diamond Bank’s clients enjoy, including its commitment to digital innovation, will continue unchanged and will be backed by Access Bank’s own commitment to customers, financial inclusion and sustainability, and the bank’s corporate expertise and strong balance sheet.”, Dozie said.

With the deal in place, the investing community remains skeptical as they await the outcome of the merger even as customers of both banks are worried about longevity of product offerings afforded to them.

For instance, Former President, Noble Shareholders Association, Sir Timothy Adesiyan, said, “Instead of CBN throwing all our shares into the lagoon, at least we are going to have in exchange, Access bank shares and we appreciate it rather than having nothing”

National Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), Boniface Okezie, called for calm amongst the investing community.

Okezie said, “If Diamond bank is operating 200 branches, considering the merger, Access bank will be a mega bank. I do not think there is any reason to panic as Access Bank is not new to the terrain, they know what they are doing and they must have done their homework to find out whether after the whole merger thing is done, they will still remain solid,

Also speaking, Head, Retail Banking, Diamond Bank Plc, Robert Giles while assuring Nigerians that the merger between Diamond and Access bank will bring the best of strong core print in treasury platform as well as the best of retail banking, noted that uique products such as Diamond Xtra, Xclusive Plus, High Interest Deposit Account (HIDA), Diamond Business Advantage (DBA) and Diamond Beta will remain even after the merger is completed.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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London Stock Exchange Lists Ecobank Nigeria’s $300m Bond

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Ecobank London Stock Exchange

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The five-year fixed rate senior unsecured $300 million bond issued by Ecobank Nigeria Limited has begun trading on the floor of the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

This followed the listing of the corporate debt instrument on the respected trading platform on Thursday via a virtual ceremony witnessed by officials of the exchange and the financial institution.

The paper has an issuer rating of B- from Fitch Rating agency and S&P, while Citi, Mashreq, Renaissance Capital and Standard Chartered Bank acted as joint lead managers and book runners.

Business Post reports that the note carries a coupon rate of 7.125 per cent, significantly below its Initial Price Thoughts of 7.75 per cent.

The successful launch was three times oversubscribed and is the lowest coupon/yield by a Nigerian financial institution for a benchmark bond transaction since 2013.

“The strong demand for our bond shows the international appetite for the Ecobank franchise in Nigeria, its unique positioning for facilitating pan-Africa trade and the attractive opportunity for the many investors seeking to back world-class Nigerian corporates,” the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, said.

It was gathered that proceeds will provide medium-term funding and help to enhance the capacity of the bank to support international trade and service across Africa.

Ecobank Nigeria, a subsidiary of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), the parent company of the Ecobank Group, provides the full suite of banking products, services and solutions through multiple channels to retail, commercial, corporate and public sector customers.

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Keystone Bank Boosts Lagos Environmental Sanitation

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Lagos State government’s environmental sanitation efforts recently received a huge boost when the new intakes of Keystone Bank Limited donated some kits to the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).

The new employees, who recently graduated from the bank’s training school, The Keystone Bank Learning Academy Lagos, gave the agency 60 units of street sweepers’ uniforms.

This is aimed to boost the morale of the personnel, who work hard to keep the city very clean and it was part of the bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) drive.

“Keystone Bank is committed to sustainability and therefore has made it a point of duty for our trainees (newly hired fresh graduates) to buy into this concept from the elementary stage of their banking career.

“Each set of banking school trainees are made to carry out a specific CSR project, which they must fund to enable them to learn the act of giving back to the society,” the Head of Learning Academy at Keystone Bank, Mr Bimbo Alabi, was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the financial institution.

He added that Keystone Bank was keenly aware that the burden of keeping the environment clean cannot be left to the state government alone, hence the intervention by the bank.

“At Keystone Bank, we are always willing to partner with organisations that are committed to keeping the environment clean, especially in the communities where we operate.

“We cannot live a healthy life, conduct business, and create wealth amidst a sick environment,” Mr Alabi noted.

While receiving the uniforms from the Keystone Bank trainees, the Managing Director of LAWMA, Mr Ibrahim Odumboni, commended the lender for being alive to its CSR in partnering with the state government to keep the environment clean.

Mr Odumboni further called on other corporate bodies to emulate the gesture of Keystone Bank for the benefit of the larger society.

The Keystone Bank Learning Academy is a full-fledged certified and accredited learning and development centre, responsible for the continuous building of skills and the expansion of the knowledge base of new and existing workers of the bank.

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SEC DG Pushes for Sustainability, Safety, Soundness of Banking Sector

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banking sector trade finance

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The need to ensure the sustainability, safety and soundness of the banking and finance industry has been emphasised by the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Lamido Yuguda.

To achieve this, the capital market expert has advised senior bankers in the nation’s banking sector to mentor the younger generation.

According to him, their commitment to mentoring the younger generation would go a long way in actualising the objectives of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN)’s mentoring scheme.

Mr Yuguda, who was a guest at the CIBN mentoring scheme tagged Mentoring: Unlocking Career Potentials and Possibilities in Lagos over the weekend, noted that, “Let me use this opportunity to encourage senior bankers to collaborate with CIBN in actualising the objectives of the mentoring scheme. Your commitment to mentoring the younger generation will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability safety and soundness of the banking industry.

“To the young bankers, I enjoin you to make the best use of this rare opportunity! I am confident that with the cooperation of all stakeholders, the CIBN mentoring scheme will be a point of reference for others,” he further said.

The SEC boss stated that to be a successful professional, one must be ambitious, willing to go the extra mile, try to be a value enhancer and must be outstanding.

He said that such a person must be teachable and willing to learn from other persons who are deemed successful in the same career path.

According to him, it is critical for young bankers to be mentored by seasoned senior colleagues as they progress in their careers because the banking profession is predicated on trust and professionalism.

Mr Yuguda said these values could be taught but are actually reinforced when demonstrated by senior bankers and emulated by their younger colleagues.

“Due to the peculiarities of the banking industry, it is easy for young bankers to get distracted with the prestige and sometimes material benefits that come with the profession.

“However, mentorship relationships help to keep such young professionals grounded and focused on building character, advancing their knowledge, growing their professional network and cultivating the right values.

“This is important because what makes success sustainable for a professional is a combination of skill, experience and the right values,” the SEC director-general said.

Earlier, the CIBN President, Mr Bayo Olugbemi, said that the institute had identified mentoring as a potent tool for bridging the gap between learning and doing.

“Esteemed audience, the changing times requires that we do things differently; the changing times require that we do things differently.

“At the CIBN, we believe so much that to maintain safety, soundness and stability of the banking industry, the human capital has a pivotal role to play in this wise.

“We have identified mentoring as a potent tool for bridging the gap between learning and doing.

“In order to uphold ethics and professionalism which is the hallmark of our banking industry and our great institute, accomplished and experienced bankers need to mentor the young and upcoming ones in order to sustain the ideals of our industry,” he said.

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Ecobank, Small World Sign Remittances Deal

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Ecobank Nigeria

By Ahmed Rahma

The desire to expand its remittances reach within Africa, Europe and other parts of the world has made a leading international money transfer provider, Small World Financial Services (Small World). to sign a deal with Ecobank Group 

Small World believes that its partnership with the leading lender in Africa will accelerate the growth of its global customer base as well as its 250,000 pick-up locations.

However, both parties will benefit from the partnership and will further boost financial inclusion in Africa.

It was gathered that Small World customers can now have access to the unparalleled Ecobank Africa-wide network in three ways which include direct transfer to bank accounts; mobile wallet; and cash pick up at any Ecobank location.

Ecobank will make available the Ecobank Xpress Account for the recipients of remittances sent by Small World.

“We are delighted to be forging a partnership with Ecobank.

“It is a leading bank in Africa with over 50,000locations in the region which means our global customers get access to even more ways to send money home to African countries.

“Importantly, Ecobank shares our commitment in delivering great customer service alongside providing fast, affordable and reliable transfers,” the founder of Small World, Nick Day, said.

Also commenting, the Ecobank Group Consumer Banking Head, Nana Araba Abban, stated that, “We’re proud to offer seamless payments across our vast borderless network in Africa.

“At Ecobank, we value partnerships, such as this, that enable Africans in the diaspora to remit money affordably and conveniently.

“This provides a win-win partnership as Ecobank can offer banking services to Africans wherever they are on the globe.

”Ecobank shares Small World’s commitment of making financial services seamless, convenient, and interoperable across Africa.”

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WorldRemit Lauds CBN’s USD Bank Account Opening Policy

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worldremit Funds Transfer

By Ahmed Rahma

A leading cross-border digital payments service, WorldRemit, has strictly adhered to the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that all banks should facilitate money transfers by automatically opening US dollar accounts.

The apex bank also stated that a $2,000 withdrawal limit will apply to these accounts, explaining that it was to ensure that transactions do not fail due to a recipient not having a US dollar bank account.

According to the central bank, this development will also promote transparency by guaranteeing that all recipients receive an exchange rate that reflects the market rate.

Reacting to this policy, the Country Manager of Nigeria and Ghana at WorldRemit, Mr Gbenga Okejimi, said they were very pleased by the CBN’s decision to mandate Nigerian banks to help citizens who do not have a USD account by automatically providing this facility on their behalf.

“This development will make all the difference to those who receive support from family and friends abroad.

“For our part, we are excited by the fact that we can continue to enable the transfer of remittances to more people across Nigeria whilst also supporting the Nigerian government in its efforts to strengthen the economy,” Okejimi said.

“When our founder came up with the idea to create WorldRemit, it was with the ultimate goal of ensuring that the diaspora community could send money back home easily and through a safe platform.

“I am proud to say that we are constantly evolving, innovating and adapting to ensure that our customers’ needs are met efficiently,” he said.

WorldRemit recently announced the expansion of its US Dollar payout option with nine of its existing bank partners. This development makes it an International Money Transfer Organizations (IMTO) with one of the broadest and largest USD payout networks in Nigeria.

Customers of FCMB, First Bank, Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, GT Bank and UBA can now also access USD payout through the bank transfer and cash pickup options.

Those receiving transfers into Union Bank, Polaris Bank and Zenith Bank accounts can access USD payout only through the cash pickup option.

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Comviva’s Banking Suite Gets Omdia’s Recognition

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Comviva mobiquity Banking Suite

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Another feather was added to the already-beautifully decorated cap of Comviva as its banking suite designed by mobiquity was given a mention in research from Omdia.

Omdia, formerly known as Ovum, is one of the world’s leading research and consultancy companies and in its report, it emphasised the role being played by Comviva’s mobiquity banking suite in the global digital banking ecosystem.

In the study titled Omdia Universe: Selecting a Digital Banking Platform, 2020–21 Comviva was ranked high on “customer experience” and its mobiquity® Banking Suite judged to be a “very innovative solution” based on recommendations from clients.

The report highlighted that Comviva has an agile platform and a team that can react quickly to industry trends and has the capability to innovate at a faster pace without being burdened with cumbersome legacy product solutions.

Comviva’s particular strength lies in supporting a variety of payment rails including digital wallets, P2P payments, QR codes, and A2A payments, and a modular architecture which has been built keeping instant payments in mind.

Speaking on the recognition, Srinivas Nidugondi, EVP and COO, Digital Financial Solutions at Comviva said, “We are thrilled to be listed by one of the world’s leading research and consultancy company Omdia in their report Omdia Universe: Selecting a Digital Banking Platform, 2020–21.

“This mention is a testimony to the fact that we are delivering world-class digital banking solution to our clients.

“We are proud that our mobiquity® Banking Suite is helping multiple banks in Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Latin America to deliver digital-first banking experience to consumers creating value for them.”

The Comviva’s mobiquity® Banking Suite provides a comprehensive solution to banks and financial institutions to build, manage, optimize and deliver the multi-channel banking experience, as well as continuously iterate and engage the consumers, through instant configuration capability, personalization and experimentation engine.

It also delivers seamless, swift and secure digital payments to the customers, by facilitating prepaid wallet and leveraging technologies such as HCE, tokenization and QR Code.

The report gives a detailed and holistic view of the leading vendors, to help the CIO, heads of digital, and digital channel executives select the digital banking platforms that fulfil their specific digital transformation ambitions.

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