More facts have emerged on the reasons why the defunct Diamond Bank surrendered itself for a business combination deal with Access Bank Plc. The deal was consummated on April 1.
According to a report obtained by THISDAY yesterday, between December 2014 and June 2018, the immediate past management of Diamond Bank under the leadership of Mr Uzoma Dozie as Chief Executive Officer, inherited a distressed oil and gas portfolio of $1.8 billion (N302.6 billion).
Of this amount, the sum under Watch list and non-performing loans (NPLs) stood at $406 million (N68.9 billion) and $73 million (or N12.3 billion), respectively.
In addition, the bank had foreign currency balance sheet mismatch in excess of $883 million as at October 31, 2015, resulting from maturing trade obligations and customer transactional instructions.
Similarly, Diamond Bank had unpaid billions of naira to the federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA), resulting to regulatory sanctions and negative public perception and waning customer confidence.
The immediate past management of the defunct bank preserved Diamond Bank’s licence by paying down the inherited forex liquidity mismatch, it stated.
Furthermore, it showed that the inability of Diamond Bank to repay the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited’s funds to the TSA, “due to the application of those funds in the creation of long-term oil and gas and power loans was a major threat to the bank’s corporate existence.”
Without external management, the then management of the bank employed every legitimate means, including strong negotiation and relationship management skills to have the issue resolved.
According to the report, as at the end of September 2018, this obligation had been fully extinguished.
While resolving this, the Uzoma Dozie-led management built an enviable retail franchise that, stand-alone, can generate sustainable profitability and low-cost deposits.
However, the value of the retail deposit was hidden in bad corporate loans inherited by the then management.
In addition, the management then developed long-term sustainable relationship with global institutions, which has helped to build thrust in its brand.
These included Women’s World Banking, Bills and Melinda Gates Foundation, Afreximbank, International Finance Corporation, Ecowas International and Development Bank, among others.
Commenting on the merger with Diamond Bank, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, had said: “Together, we would have 27 million customers, which is the largest customer base of any bank on the continent. We would have 33,000 point of sale (PoS) terminals, 3,300 automated teller machines (ATMs) and all of that.
“Access Bank has grown over time and has built a very strong wholesale banking capability. We have also shown significant expertise as far as treasury is concerned, risk management as well as our capital management plan.
“We created and pushed a very strong value chain strategy which was our own way of building our retail business.
“This was because we realised that the creation of a large diversified bank is critical, not just for Nigeria, but in Africa and the world. If you go to any part of the world, what you tend to see is that the top three or top five banks technically control market share.”
Speaking further, Wigwe said the combination of Access Bank and Diamond Bank would ensure that “we are able to take and solve customers’ issues right from the wholesale end, down to the man in the village, just because of the use of technology.”
Airtel Commences SmartCash Payment Operations in Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
Airtel Africa has announced that its subsidiary, SmartCash Payment Service Bank Limited (SmartCash PSB), has commenced operations in Nigeria.
Services will initially be available at selected retail touchpoints, and operations will be expanded gradually across the country over the next few months.
Speaking on the development, Mr Segun Ogunsanya, Airtel Africa chief executive officer, said, “I am very excited to announce our commencement of operations for financial services in Nigeria through SmartCash PSB. This is the beginning of our journey to revolutionise the financial services landscape in the country.
“To help further digitise the economy, and most importantly to help bank the unbanked by reaching the millions of Nigerians who do not currently have access to financial services by delivering current and savings accounts, payment and remittance services, debit and prepayment cards and more sophisticated services.”
This is coming less than one month after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) granted the company the license to operate mobile money services in the country.
The licence will enable the telco to expand its digital financial products and reach the millions of Nigerians that do not currently have access to traditional financial services.
It will also be able to augment plans by the Nigerian Government, the CBN, and traditional financial institutions to further deepen financial inclusion in the country for the benefit of all citizens and the Nigerian economy.
Airtel Africa is a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services with a presence in 14 countries across Africa.
Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank Introduces Education Loans
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A leading microfinance bank supporting small businesses, Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank Limited, has introduced education loans aimed to provide funding support to school owners and parents.
A statement from the small lending institution said the education loan products created for its customers are the Advans School Boost, Advans Eduloan and Advans Kiddies.
It was explained that the Advans School Boost is a product designed to provide working and investment capital for school owners, Advans Eduloan is to assist parents to pay their children’s school fees with ease, while the Advans Kiddies is high-yield savings account to help parents save towards the future of their children while still earning interest.
According to the Marketing and Communication Manager of Advans La Fayette MFB, Mr Kayode Abraham, “The process of accessing the education loans is neither rigorous nor daunting.”
“Simply visit our website: www.advansnigeria.com to complete the application form and receive the funds immediately, if eligible,” he advised.
The Project Manager of Advans La Fayette MFB, Ms Fanny Belhomme, stated that, “Advans School Boost allows school owners to access loans up to N75 million to cover school expenses. The loan has a very competitive interest rate, a flexible repayment plan and no hidden costs.
“Parents can access up to N500,000 with the Advans Eduloan, to pay their children’s school fees. The loan is easy to access, with a low-interest rate and flexible repayment plans,” she added.
The Managing Director of the lender, Mr Gaëtan Debuchy, while speaking at the unveiling of the products at the Shoregate Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos, disclosed that the firm came up with the loan packages because “we recognised that lack of finance is one of the biggest banes of education.”
“Emboldened by the fact that investment in quality education yields the best dividend, we created these products to offer solutions to the challenge. As a leading microfinance bank, we are focused on providing premium financial services to our customers,” he added.
Advans Nigeria is a member of Advans Group; a leading international microfinance group currently serving over 1.1 million clients in 10 countries including Cambodia, Cameroon, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Pakistan, Nigeria, Tunisia and Myanmar.
For more than 15 years, the bank has offered a complete range of financial services that has helped build over 4 million small businesses.
AppZone Gets CBN Switching Licence Approval in Principle
By Adedapo Adesanya
AppZone, Sub-Saharan Africa’s payment infrastructure company, announced that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued the organization an approval in principle to operate under the Switching and Processing license category.
This will enable AppZone further expand its transaction switching and processing services currently offered to banks and fintech’s through its blockchain-based payment network, ZONE, launched in December 2021.
ZONE is the first private blockchain payment network that enables the direct flow of payments from bank to bank while empowering previously excluded financial institutions to participate.
It has been adopted by over 16 commercial banks and payment service banks in Nigeria and will further expand to other financial institutions, Fintechs and commercial banks across Africa.
Speaking about the license issuance, co-founder and CEO of AppZone, Mr Obi Emetarom, said, “We are excited about the issuance of the Switching license. We look forward to the progress it will enable for the payment and finance ecosystem.
“As a payment infrastructure company, we believe that this milestone will enable us to connect every financial store of value within Nigeria and link them to the rest of the world.”
With this new milestone, AppZone can now operate on the same level as other tier-one financial technology and private switching companies.
The switching license will enable the company directly to engage and collaborate with crucial payment system stakeholders such as the Nigeria Central Switch hosted by NIBSS and the various Card Payment Schemes.
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