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Gauging Leaps and Bounds of UBA Plc, Lion of Africa’s Banking

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Gauging Leaps and Bounds of UBA Plc, Lion of Africa’s Banking

The United Bank of Africa has once again asserted its position as the lion of Nigeria’s banking. Most analysts agree on that, looking at the way it cut through on economic headwinds in the first quarter of 2017.

Quarterly reports, ratings, peer competitiveness, ready shareholders, and a motivated workforce are reasons the UBA will do better as leadership and market share go.

Ending 2016 with N384 billion in earnings, which was 22 percent increase from 2015’s  figure, and a 32 percent rise in profit after tax to N91 billion, the bank ramped up N23 billion in the first quarter of 2017. That is 41 percent growth compared to the first quarter of 2016.

“Our performance in the first quarter of the year strengthens our optimism on economic and business recovery in Nigeria and many of our markets across Africa,” said Group Managing Director, Mr Kennedy Uzoka.

“More importantly, this result is evidence of efficiency gains in our pricing, balance sheet management and operations.”

While its Nigerian operations strengthen in terms of bottomlines, the overseas branches are equally faring well.

According to Mr Uzoka, the bank’s external operations contribute 35 percent of its earnings.

“We remained prudent in risk asset creation growing net loans by 2% year-to-date, as we have continued to monitor development in key sectors of the economy to take advantage of emerging bankable opportunities in due time,” he said while commenting on the quarterly report.

The UBA operates in 19 countries across Africa, and has branches in New York, London, and Paris. It serves millions customers in over 1000 business offices and centres where it carries out its retail, commercial and corporate banking, cross border payments and remittances, trade and finance, and other banking services.

Its flying start in 2017 further gets confirmation from Standard and Poor’s early in the month.

According to the international rating agency, the UBA is rated ‘B’ in long-term and ‘B’ short-term global scale counterparty credit ratings.

Analysts at Proshare said S&P’s ‘B’ rating is the highest rating currently assigned to any Nigeria-based financial institution.

“It thus reinforces the respectable quality and strength of UBA, the third largest Nigeria-based bank by total assets, deposits and profits,” the analysts said.

S&P also confirmed that UBA’s earnings will be resilient despite the economic slowdown in Nigeria. “We believe the bank’s capital and earnings under our risk adjusted capital and earnings framework will remain moderate over the next 12-18 months, with its capital adequacy ratio remaining well above minimum regulatory requirements,” the ratings agency noted.

The bank’s capital adequacy ratio was 19.7 percent at year-end 2016, way above the regulatory minimum of 15 percent. S&P believe it will remain stable over the next 12-18 months. Its showings in other indices are also superlative. Its credit losses to decline to about 1.0% in 2017-2018; its average liquidity ratio is doing well, 42 percent as of 2016; it has a stable funding ratio of 143 percent as of last December, thus becoming one of the lowest levels of loan leverage in Nigeria.

It has been a sustained rally for the bank. Which is a mark of its competitiveness in any situation. In the midst of decline Nigeria’s economy experienced last year, UBA still managed to tide over so well that it won five plaques in the Bank of The Year 2016 country awards in Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Senegal, Cameroon and Chad at the last annual Bankers Award in London.

Achievement trainers will make us such feat is possible when an organisation has a water-tight philosophy of goal getting. Well, the UBA has one: the three E’s—Enterprise, Excellence, and Execution.

But the GMD thinks that is not all. So he dedicated the awards to the customers whose loyalty, support and patronage, according to him, remain the fountain of the group’s growth and competitive edge in the African continent.

The UBA has over 14 million customers in Africa only. And they are well served by a synergy if technology and an army of highly motivated staff. It means a lot to the bank, especially the GMD, that its human resources remain in high spirits.  As the 2016 annual report came out, and shareholders got over N19 billion in dividends, no fewer than 3000 staffers got promotion, too.

“Investment in our human capital is critical to our success,” said Mr Uzoka.

“It is a product of our ability to invest for the long term and create an institution that is built to last. It is the bedrock of our determination to be Africa’s leading customer focused bank.”

All thing being equal, the second quarter reports can only get better.

Source: National Daily

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.

Banking

N5.5bn Debt: Ecobank Floors Honeywell At Supreme Court

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Ecobank scored a major victory at the Supreme Court on Friday as it won in a N5.5 billion debt dispute against Honeywell and its sister firms, Anchorage Leisures Ltd and Siloam Global Ltd.

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Honeywell Flour Mills Limited challenging the judgement of the Court of Appeal in the debt dispute with Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

The five-member panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Tijjani Abubakar, delivered the judgement that Honeywell, Anchorage, and Siloam were indeed indebted to Ecobank.

In the lead judgement delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the Supreme Court declared the verdict of the Court of Appeal, which said Honeywell and its sister companies are still indebted to Ecobank.

“I affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal, setting aside the decision of the Federal High Court, granting the reliefs claimed for by the appellants (Honeywell).

“I hold that the appellants’ claim at the trial court fails, and it is hereby dismissed. “The appellants shall pay the cost of N1 million to the respondent (Ecobank),” Justice Agim said.

By the instant judgment of the apex court confirming the indebtedness of the named customers to the bank, the lender can now proceed to recover from the debtor customers the total outstanding debt of N5.5 billion, including all the accrued interest from 2015.

In the wake of the legal tussle, Mr Oba Otudeko, Honeywell Group chairman, had told a Court of Appeal that the sum was owed by individual companies. These companies include Anchorage Leisures Limited, Siloam Limited, and Honeywell Flour Mills Plc.

Mr Otudeko maintained that his companies had paid N3.5 billion as of December 12, 2013, as the full and final payment for the N5.5 billion debt as agreed by the parties at a July 22, 2013, meeting. With the latest Supreme Court judgement, the companies remain indebted to the bank.

Background

On August 6, 2015, Honeywell and its sister firms, Anchorage Leisures Ltd and Siloam Global Ltd, sued Ecobank before the Federal High Court in Lagos over repayments of a N5.5 billion debt.

In the suit, the companies urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to declare that “having paid the sum of N3.5 billion in cumulative settlement of their total outstanding indebtedness” (of N5.5 billion) to Ecobank, “they owned no further debt obligation” to Ecobank “arising from their banker-customer relationships.”

As a result, they also asked the court to hold that Ecobank “was obligated to issue letters of discharge, release collaterals by which the prior indebtedness was secured.” In addition, Honeywell and its sister companies begged the court to compel Ecobank to “update” their status on the “Credit Risk Management System Portal of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

But in its defence, Ecobank argued that an agreement was reached between it, Honeywell, Anchorage and Siloam on July 22, 2013, “for a definite settlement of N3.5 billion to be paid in terms of N500 million immediately and the balance of N3 billion before the exit of the CBN examiners from” Ecobank’s offices. Ecobank had contended that the repayment agreement period was for six months as it rejected Honeywell and its sister companies’ request to “pay the balance over a one-and-half-year period in three equal half-yearly instalments.”

The bank informed the court that the debt repayment agreement “lapsed in August 2013.” But in its judgement, the judge, Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, upheld the arguments of the Honeywell Group and granted their prayers.

Dissatisfied with the verdict, Ecobank in 2015 approached the Court of Appeal. In its decision, the appellate court overturned the judgement of the Federal High Court, setting the stage for the Supreme Court’s appeal, which was resolved in favour of the bank.

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Banking

Customers Frustrated as Banks Stop Dispensing Old Naira Notes

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By Dipo Olowookere

Some customers were left frustrated as a few of the commercial banks visited by Business Post on Monday morning to monitor the extension of the currency swap announced by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, on Sunday, were unable to pay those who came for cash withdrawals.

Yesterday, after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in his hometown of Daura, Katsina State, Mr Emefiele said the deadline for the exchange of the old Naira notes for the new ones has been pushed forward from January 31 to February 10, 2023.

He explained that it was to allow Nigerians more time to swap their old currency notes of N200, N500, and N1,000 for the newly redesigned denominations.

The extension followed calls by several persons as they complained of scarcity of the new Naira notes, as banks were still dispensing the old notes even a few days before the deadline.

This morning, this reporter visited a few financial institutions in Lagos to monitor the situation, and it was observed that some customers could not withdraw cash from the banks.

At the banking hall of one of the tier-one lenders in the Akowonjo area of Lagos State, the cashiers were not paying customers who came to take their funds.

“I could not get cash from the bank because I was informed that there were no new notes to pay me with, as the central bank has directed them not to pay customers with the old notes,” one of the customers, who identified himself as Mr Idowu Sodunke, said.

At a branch of another bank on Idimu Road, Lagos, a customer, who identified herself as Mrs Bose Kalejaiye, said, “The bank could not pay me my money. They claimed they were short of the new Naira notes. When I told them to pay me in lower denominations, they also could not pay me. We are in a deep mess in this country.”

In the Ikotun area of Lagos State, the banks in the vicinity were crowded as customers, especially POS operators, rushed to withdraw their funds for business after the extension.

They had earlier deposited the cash ahead of the deadline during the weekend, but when they approached the banks to withdraw their money, the banks could not honour their requests, leaving some of them frustrated.

“I don’t have funds to do my business today. I was here yesterday (Sunday) to deposit some cash. It was after I deposited the money that I heard of the extension. I quickly came here this morning to take my money back, but I was told there was no cash to pay me.

“I think the issue is that the banks have stopped paying people with the old notes. I don’t know what to do now,” a POS operator, who identified herself as Rukayat Salami, told Business Post.

An employee of a commercial bank, who begged not to be named, hinted that the CBN directed banks tp stop dispensing old Naira notes to customers because of a directive of the CBN.

This newspaper observed that within the premises of some of the commercial banks visited today, some POS operators, like Ms Salami, resorted to collecting cash from depositors and transferring the money into their accounts so as to have enough cash to do business with at their terminals.

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Banking

CBN Orders Banks to Operate Saturday, Sunday to Mop Up Old Naira Notes

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Nigerian Banks

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

As the deadline for the stoppage in the use of old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes as legal tender in the country draws closer, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed banks to open their doors on Saturday, January 29 and Sunday, January 29, 2023, to customers for cash deposits.

The CBN maintained that it would not shift the deadline for the deposit of old Naira notes from Tuesday, January 31, 2023, despite calls from different quarters, including from the National Assembly, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and others.

According to the CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, 100 days is enough for Nigerians to take their old notes to banks for the newly redesigned denominations.

There had been reports that the new notes were very scarce and that banks were still dispensing the old notes, leaving many customers confused.

On Friday, many commercial banks sent messages to their customers, informing them they could bring their old notes this Saturday and Sunday.

One of the lenders, UBA, in its message said, “This weekend, all our branches will be open for cash deposits only.

“Opening times [are] Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, and Sunday from 10:00 am to 2.00 pm.

“Please note that all old naira notes, 200, 500, and 1000, cease to be in use from January 31, 2023.

“You can continue to bank seamlessly on all our digital channels, including Leo, UBA Mobile App, internet banking and *919#.”

Another bank, Fidelity Bank, said, “To help you meet January 31, 2023, deadline for depositing your old Naira notes, our branches will open as detailed below.

“Saturday, January 28, 2023, from 9 am to 4 pm and Sunday, January 29, 2023, from 11 am to 3 pm.

“Please note that only cash deposit transactions would be entertained on these days.”

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