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Diamond Bank to Complete Sale of UK Subsidiary in Q4, Return to Profitability—CEO

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Diamond Bank to Complete Sale of UK Subsidiary in Q4, Return to Profitability—CEO

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank Plc, Mr Uzoma Dozie, has revealed that the sale of the company’s subsidiary in the United Kingdom would be finalised in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Mr Dozie made this disclosure while reacting to the third quarter financial statements of Diamond Bank released last week.

According to the bank executive, this and other actions to be taken by the lender should lead the firm to profitability in the fourth quarter.

“As we move into the final quarter of the year, we expect headwinds to continue driven by emerging situations in developed economies as well as our domestic political realities.

“Despite this, our investors can expect a further decline in Non-Performing Loans (NPLs), a further increase in our digital footprint and completion of the sale of the UK subsidiary.

“Through these actions, we remain optimistic about the medium to long term outlook of Diamond Bank and its return to strong profitability,” Mr Dozie was quoted as saying in a statement issued last week by bank’s PR agency, Prize Communications Limited, which was obtained by Business Post.

Earlier this year, Diamond Bank Plc struck a deal with British industrialist, Mr Sanjeev Gupta, for the 100 percent sale of its UK branch after selling its West African subsidiaries in 2017.

According to Diamond Bank, it was committed to pursuing a quick completion of the transaction with GFG Alliance subject to approval of the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority, which regulate banking business in the UK.

The lender had noted that the sale of its international subsidiaries was not expected to cause service disruptions for customers located around the world as they could continue to enjoy enhanced and convenient banking services through its digital channels.

In August this year, Mr Dozie had said the transaction was already in the change of ownership process, assuring that the exercise would be finalised before the end of the year.

In May 2018, Diamond Bank posted a 2017 loss, its first time in the red in six years after selling assets to conserve capital and to focus on its home market.

Its half-year 2018 pre-tax profit declined 69 percent to N2.92 billion.

In its Q3 results, the financial institution’s profit before tax dropped to N3.1 billion from N4.8 billion, while the profit after tax depreciated to N1.7 billion from N3.9 billion.

Also, the gross earnings for the period under consideration dropped to N142.5 billion from N143.7 billion, with the interest and similar income going down to N108 billion from N112.5 billion a year ago, while the net interest income depreciated to N67.1 billion from N77.7 billion.

In addition, customer deposit dropped by 8 percent year-on year to N1.107 billion due to re-pricing and non-rollover of high priced maturing deposits, and migration to government securities.

According to the CEO, these results were affected by the challenging environment operated in the period under review.

“The global economy is currently witnessing a shift in trade relations alongside continued interest rate adjustments. This has led to greater volatility across markets and increasingly fragile economies.

“Nigeria’s economy has not been immune to certain headwinds, so that while the economy recorded quarters of expansion, the rate of growth has weakened. However, against this backdrop, our digital-led retail strategy has remained robust.

“Through this strategy we have been able to continue scaling up by reaching a wide pool of customers both cost effectively and efficiently.

“As a result of our network and digital infrastructure, during Q3 we reached the N1 billion mark in total loans disbursed to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“Alongside this, we introduced the SMEzone, a platform targeted at keeping entrepreneurs well positioned for competitiveness through community and continuous learning.

“We are investing more in businesses in the middle market because we see entrepreneurs as a key driving force for economic growth. This focus is in line with and supportive of our own recovery and return to profitability,” Mr Dozie said in the statement.
Last week, there were reports that some investors were interested in Diamond Bank, but the mid-tier bank said since refuted the speculations.

Business Post reports that shares of Diamond Bank were traded at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Wednesday at N1.45k, already rising by 4.32 percent.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Banking

First Bank Reacts to Rumoured ‘Acquisition’ by Otedola

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First Bank Otedola

By Dipo Olowookere

One of the news items that has dominated the business space in the past few days is the rumoured takeover of FBN Holdings Plc, the parent company of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Limited, by Mr Femi Otedola, a businessman in the country.

It was reported that he has ‘acquired’ the lender by pumping about N30 billion into the shares of the company at the stock market, making him the single largest shareholder.

This was linked to the recent rise in the trading volume and value of FBN Holdings equities at the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, which has spurred questions from various quarters.

But in a statement issued on Friday, the management of FBNH said it was not aware of the businessman emerging as its new shareholder, though it pointed out this could have happened as its shares are always available for purchase at the market by anybody.

In the notice signed by the company secretary, Seye Kosoko, the bank said once it receives notification from Mr Otedola, it will promptly inform the regulators about it as required.

“The attention of FBN Holdings has been drawn to media reports today, October 2021, purporting that a certain individual has acquired a significant shareholding interest in FBN Holdings, therefore making him the majority shareholder of the company.

“As a listed company, shares of FBN Holdings are publicly traded and sale and acquisition of shares are expected in the normal course of business. We operate in a regulated environment, which requires notification of significant shareholding by shareholders to the company, where shares are held in different vehicles, further to which the company will notify the regulators and the public as appropriate.

“The company is yet to receive any notification from the individual mentioned in the media report of such acquisition. FBN Holdings will always notify the appropriate agencies and authorities whenever it receives any notice of significant shareholdings by the shareholders and the company’s registrars,” the disclosure read.

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Banking

Femi Otedola Quietly Takes Over First Bank

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Femi Otedola First Bank FBN Holdings

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

There are reports that a billionaire businessman, Mr Femi Otedola, is coming back into the capital market on a big scale a few years after he offloaded his stake in Forte Oil, 75 per cent, which later became Ardova Plc under its new owners.

It is believed that business mogul has pounced on the crisis at FBN Holdings Plc, the parent company of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, which also recently had a board crisis, to take over the company.

According to reports, which is yet to be independently verified by Business Post, Mr Otedola, son of a late Governor of Lagos State, Sir Michael Otedola, is now the single majority shareholder of the first generation lender in Nigeria.

He is said to have acquired N30 billion worth of the company’s equities at the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, where the firm is listed.

In recent times, there has been an upward movement in the share price of FBN Holdings at the stock market and this has raised many eyebrows as some investors were asking what was driving the hike.

Mr Otedola is not new to the boardroom and it is believed that his entry into the banking space would cause a disruption and make him rub shoulders with renowned bankers like Mr Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank Plc, Tony Elumelu of United Bank for Africa (UBA), amongst others.

Some months ago, many observers were shocked when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sacked the boards of FBN Holdings and First Bank of Nigeria Limited and it was learnt that the financial institution has been on the life-support of the regulator.

The FBN Holdings board led by businessman, Mr Oba Otudeko was asked to leave and the CBN further ordered the bank to ensure that the debts owed by the directors, including Mr Otudeko, who sits on the board of Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, should be recovered.

A few months after this directive, shares of FBN Holdings and Honeywell have enjoyed a significant rise in value, causing people to ask questions.

If the latest information is correct, it would mean that Mr Otedola was likely the reason for the uptick witnessed in First Bank stocks at the exchange lately.

It means he will have a good representation on the board of the lender and turn its fortunes around.

First Bank is yet to officially inform the investing public about this development.

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Banking

Heritage Bank in Debt Crisis, Reps May Order CBN Takeover

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Heritage Bank CEO Ifie Sekibo

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The banking industry in Nigeria may be plunged into another crisis if urgent steps are not quickly taken to address the issue so as to douse the looming tension.

Business Post reports that a few years ago, precisely in 2018, depositors and shareholders of Skye Bank were in a panic mood after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the lender to Polaris Bank Limited because of debts and the House of Representatives on Thursday raised an alarm that another financial institution, Heritage Bank, is allegedly swimming in huge debts.

The lower chamber of the National Assembly had invited the bank and its Managing Director, Mr Ifie Sekibo, to explain why the amount the company owes the federal government is more than its share capital, but he has failed to honour the request.

This action has infuriated the parliament, which has threatened to direct the CBN to take over the ownership of Heritage Bank if Mr Sekibo and the bank ignore their latest invite next Wednesday.

Mr Adejoro Adeogun, Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots, Moveable and immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by agencies of the federal government for Effective and Efficient Management and Utilisation, issued this threat at the resumed hearing of the committee yesterday.

“I need to send this message to Heritage Bank that we are not comedians here and we are not joking here. If Heritage Bank owes Nigeria more than its share capital, we will not hesitate to ask the National Assembly to write to CBN to take over Heritage Bank.

“They cannot be owing more than their share capital and feel too big to respond to invitations from the National Assembly. Clerk, you have to write them, give them till Wednesday next week. That is the last time we are going to give them,” an angry Mr Adeogun barked.

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