By Dipo Olowookere
The Group Chief Executive Officer of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Mr Ladi Balogun, has assured shareholders of the company a sustainable growth. This assurance was given during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of FCMB held in Lagos, where shareholders approved the 2018 financial results and payment of a cash dividend of 14 kobo per ordinary share, totaling N2.8 billion.
Mr Balogun, while addressing the shareholders, outlined that the commercial and retail banking group, which includes First City Monument Bank Limited, Credit Direct Limited, FCMB (UK) Limited and FCMB Microfinance Bank Limited, grew its profit by 61 percent, driven by improved performance in consumer finance business and increase in fees and commissions.
He added that commercial and retail banking remains the largest group, contributing 83 percent of profit while the group’s banking franchise continued to grow as reflected by a 20 percent increase each in deposits and customer base, which rose to 4.9 million customers.
He pointed out that the pre-tax profit of investment banking group, which includes FCMB Capital Markets Limited and CSL Stockbrokers Limited, increased by 24 percent in 2018, a performance driven by higher conversion of investment banking deal pipeline as well as cost efficiencies.
He said the asset and wealth management franchise, which includes FCMB Pensions Limited, First City Asset Management Limited and CSL Trustees Limited, increased combined assets under management to over N310 billion, an increase of 24 percent.
According to him, in spite of the reduction in fees charged by pension fund administrators by the primary regulator, asset management businesses increased pre-tax profits by 15 percent while the group also acquired additional shares in FCMB Pensions Limited to increase its stake from 88.2 percent to 91.6 percent in 2018.
He assured shareholders and other stakeholder that 2019 would see continued growth along all key indices for the Group, especially those around profitability, deposits, customer numbers and assets under management.
Chairman of FCMB, Mr Oladipupo Jadesimi, in his address, said the group has continued to move forward on the path of good governance, strengthening and improving its corporate governance structure and bringing it into line with its long-term strategy and the highest international standards.
He said the group has taken initiatives to increase the confidence of its shareholders, investors and other stakeholders in an environment that is demanding even more transparency.
‘’The board of directors, fully engaged and committed to the group’s corporate culture and strategy, has the experience, knowledge, dedication and diversity needed to accomplish our objective of making FCMB one of the leading financial services groups of African origin, helping people and businesses prosper and upholding our adopted of execution, professionalism, innovation and customer focus,’’ Mr p ppJadesimi said.
At the meeting, shareholders of the company commended the board for the impressive performance in the 2018 financial year, urging them to do more so as to result to more dividend payout.
Chairman, Trusted Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr Mukhtar Mukhtar, said the increased dividend payment was a delight to shareholders given the low economic activities in the country.
“I am highly impressed with the group’s balance sheet quality which witnessed a high growth. This shows vigorous policies that have positively impacted on and optimised the balance sheet.
“Another significant aspect of the performance of FCMB is the growing contributions of the subsidiaries in the profit margin. The 14 kobo dividend declaration signals FCMB’s commitment to improving the lots of shareholders,’’
Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN) Chairman, Mr Boniface Okezie, said FCMB and its subsidiaries have done very well in terms of dividend payment and the overall performance.
According to him, the loans portfolio of the bank is also encouraging while the fact that it has been able to increase its branch network is an indication that it is expanding.
“I believe that FCMB will build on this performance,’’ Mr Okezie said.
Key extracts of the audited report and accounts of FCMB Group for the year ended December 31, 2018 showed that profit before tax rose by 73 percent to N18.4 billion in 2018 as against N11.5 billion in 2017.
Also, gross revenue grew to N177.4 billion, an increase of 4.3 percent compared with N169.9 billion in 2017. Net interest income rose by three percent to N72.6 billion while deposits also increased by 19 per cent to N821.7 billion. Loans and advances stood at N633 billion while total assets grew by 21 percent to N1.43 trillion. Capital adequacy ratio stood at 15.9 percent.
Polaris Bank in Safe Hands, No Need to Panic—Management
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Polaris Bank Limited has urged its customers and members of the public not to panic over reports that the financial institution has been sold to a new investor, Mr Auwal Gombe, in the sum of N40 billion.
It was recently reported that efforts are being made to hand over the lender to the businessman, who is said to be an ally of former military president, Mr Ibrahim Babangida, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the defunct Skye Bank Plc into Polaris Bank in 2018.
In a statement issued on Friday in Lagos, the bank described the report of the purported sale as not only “speculative” but done to deliberately “create panic” among its customers and the banking community.
The company said the CBN established it and injected funds for its operations, it has bounced back to profitability, with a solid balance sheet, saying there is no cause for alarm as the bank was in safe hands.
“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.
“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability,” a part of the notice today said.
Continuing, Polaris Bank noted that, “Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders,” expressing its commitment to “ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”
“The board and management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders,” the statement concluded.
Wema Bank Refutes Dud Cheque, Forgery Allegations
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Wema Bank Plc has rubbished an allegation that it issued a dud cheque in connection with a garnishee proceeding for the payment of a judgement debt on behalf of the Bayelsa State Government.
A legal practitioner, Mr George Haliday, had accused the financial institution of issuing dud cheques but in a statement issued on Wednesday, the lender explained that the cheques have only not been cleared for payment because of the subsisting appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on the garnishee proceeding which has now been decided in its favour.
According to the statement, the lawyer only ran to the Magistrate Court in Abuja to lodge a complaint about the issuance of dud cheques after he lost his case at the appellate court.
“It is very worthy of note that the judgement debt against Bayelsa State Government, which Barrister George Haliday attempted to enforce by a garnishee proceeding, thereby leading to the issuance of the cheques in question had been settled by Bayelsa State Government via a Terms of Settlement between Barrister George Haliday and the Bayelsa State Government at the Supreme Court,” a part of the statement.
Recently, there were reports that the Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise, was issued an arrest warrant, but the bank dismissed this, saying its leader was not given a fair hearing in the matter.
“Wema Bank wishes to state that the warrant for the arrest of Mr Ademola Adebise is in violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as he was never personally served with any process to appear before the magistrate court nor was he represented in court.
“We are a law-abiding corporate citizen; if there was any court summons properly served on the Managing Director for his appearance in court, he would have done so without fail.
“But in this case, there was no such service extended to him or any court processes personally served on him to appear in court until a warrant of arrest was issued in absentia. We view the arrest warrant as being an infringement on his fundamental rights,” the statement said.
Concluding, the lender emphatically refuted and dismissed “in their entirety, the allegations of dud cheque and forgery levelled against our bank and the Managing Director. We also dismiss the inappropriate issuance of a bench warrant on our Managing Director.
“We are already engaging in legitimate actions to seek redress and bring all the perpetrators of these unprofessional conducts and heinous criminal acts against our Managing Director and the bank to book.”
Advans Nigeria Becomes Most Innovative Microfinance Bank
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
More big feathers have been added to the colourful cap of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, cementing its leadership position in the small lending business in Nigeria.
Recently, in recognition of its customer-centric credentials and innovation in product development, service delivery and brand management, the financial institution was named the Best Microfinance Bank in Nigeria at the Financial Derivatives Awards 2022.
Also, the company emerged as the Most Innovative Microfinance Bank in Nigeria in the Global Brands Magazine and World Economic Magazine Awards 2022.
The Managing Director/CEO of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Gaetan Debuchy, while reacting to the accolades bestowed on the firm, dedicated the awards to the working management and staff of the bank, promising that the bank would continue to break boundaries.
“We are excited to win these awards. It further validates our innovative approach to providing customer-centric, affordable and transparent financial services,” Mr Debuchy said.
Also, the Head of Marketing and Communication at Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Kayode Abraham, stated that, “Over the years, we have centred our business on customer needs and feedback, which has helped us develop financial solutions from scratch to completion. We are pleased to be recognised as the most innovative and best microfinance bank in Nigeria.”
Earlier in the year, Advans Nigeria upgraded its mobile banking app ‘Adspire’ to include users’ ability to request bank statements and control their daily transaction limit. Through the app, clients can receive notifications and share by referring their friends and loved ones.
The bank recently introduced a micro-health insurance product and an education loan to facilitate financial inclusion.
The health insurance product was designed to ensure existing and prospective clients have access to high-quality and affordable health care services, while the education loan was designed to provide working and investment capital for school owners and to assist parents in paying their children’s school fees with ease.
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