By Dipo Olowookere
Following the announcement of a proposed merger between Diamond Bank and Access Bank, renowned rating agency, Fitch Ratings, has placed both Nigerian lenders on its rating watch.
In a statement issued by Fitch, it said Diamond Bank’s Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) has now been downgraded to ‘CC’ from ‘CCC’ and Viability Rating (VR) to ‘cc’ from ‘ccc’ and placed its IDRs and VR on Rating Watch Evolving (RWE).
The agency also simultaneously placed Access Bank Plc on Rating Watch Negative (RWN).
It explained that the downgrade of Diamond Bank’s ratings reflects the deterioration in the bank’s foreign-currency (FC) liquidity position since the last review and an expected deterioration in the bank’s capital position following additional loan impairment charges (LICs) on the announced write-offs of stage 3 loans under IFRS 9, to take place by year-end.
Fitch noted that the Rating Watches (RW) follows a memorandum of agreement between the banks to merge. The merger is expected to be completed by end-June 2019. Although the agreement is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, Fitch said it believes that the probability of the completion of the merger is sufficiently high to take rating action.
The RWE on Diamond Bank reflects Fitch’s view that its standalone creditworthiness could improve or deteriorate beyond the current ratings, depending on the realisation of the merger and the bank’s ability to meet its upcoming FC obligations prior to it.
The upside aspect of the RWE reflects the view that should Diamond Bank meet its near-term obligations and the merger be completed, it is likely to be positive for the bank’s creditors due to the stronger franchise and financial metrics of the combined entity.
Following completion of the merger, Diamond Bank will cease to exist as a separate legal entity, and Fitch will then withdraw its ratings.
However, the downside aspect of the RWE reflects significant risk with regards to the bank’s near-term FC liquidity position given its large short-term bullet repayments, including a $200 million Eurobond maturing in May 2019, $100 million from Afrexim due in March 2019, and $70 million from the International Finance Corporation due in July 2019.
Fitch said it also understands that some large long-term obligations have recently become current suggesting intensified liquidity pressure.
According to Diamond Bank’s FC liquidity plan, the bank should be able to meet its obligations using existing US dollar liquidity, proceeds from the sale of its UK subsidiary, cash flows from maturing US dollar loans (mainly from oil and gas loans), and by exchanging naira into US dollars through the interbank market.
However, the plan is based on a number of assumptions, including the completion of the sale of the UK subsidiary, which has not yet been approved by the Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK, and therefore liquidity remains tight and highly vulnerable.
Fitch said it also understands that Access Bank may provide some liquidity support to Diamond Bank, although it will not assume a direct liability for Diamond Bank’s debt payments pre-merger.
Fitch point out that Access Bank withdrawing from the deal would most likely be negative for Diamond Bank.
It said the RWN on Access Bank’s Long-Term IDR of ‘B’ and VR reflects the potentially negative impact on its financial metrics from the absorption of a weaker bank and execution risks post-merger.
Upon completion of the merger Fitch will assess the bank’s credit profile. A potential downgrade is likely to be limited to one notch. However, it is also possible that Access Bank’s ratings could be affirmed with a Stable Outlook if the impact from merger appears to be more moderate, given the bank’s currently sound financial metrics and the planned capital raising, and provided there are no additional unforeseen risks emerging from Diamond.
Diamond Bank’s stage 3 loans stood at 37 percent of gross loans at end-1H18. Additionally, the bank’s stage 2 loans stood at 23 percent of gross loans at end-1H18, indicating the extent of its weak asset quality.
Access Bank has better asset quality with stage 3 loans and stage 2 loans accounting for 5 percent and 14 percent of gross loans, respectively, at end-1H18.
Diamond Bank plans to take LICs of between N150 billion-N180 billion before writing off bad loans by end-2018. Diamond Bank’s total equity was N222 billion at end-9M18, meaning that its capital position at end-December 2018 following the write-offs will be materially weaker.
For regulatory capital calculations, Fitch said it understands that as per the central bank’s IFRS 9 transition guidelines, Diamond Bank will be able to phase-in the impact of additional LICs on its total capital adequacy ratio (CAR) over a four-year period, allowing it to remain above its 10 percent minimum regulatory requirement.
Access Bank estimates that its CAR should stand at around 20 percent (above its minimum regulatory capital requirement of 15 percent) post-merger, which will be helped by the expected $250 million Tier 2 capital issuance in January 2019 and strong retained earnings.
Fitch explained that the banks’ National Ratings reflect their creditworthiness relative to Nigeria’s best credit and relative to peers operating in the country. Diamond Bank’s National Long- and Short-Term Ratings have been downgraded to ‘CCC’ and ‘C’, respectively, from ‘B’ and ‘B’, reflecting its weaker credit profile relative to peers, it said.
It noted that Diamond Bank’s National Ratings have also been placed on RWE based on expectation that its assets and liabilities will be transferred to Access Bank’s balance sheet, but also that its credit profile may deteriorate further relative to peers’ in the interim, adding that the RWN on Access Bank’s National Ratings indicates potential downside risks of the merger.
Fitch said Diamond Bank’s senior unsecured debt rating has been downgraded to ‘CC’/’RR4’ from ‘CCC’/’RR4’, with the lender’s senior unsecured debt rating also placed on RWE, reflecting that on its Long-Term IDR. It stated that the Long-Term Ratings on Access Bank’s senior unsecured and subordinated debt have been placed on RWN, reflecting that on its Long-Term IDR.
Digital Transformation Solutions for Banking
Digital transformation is a hot topic in banking. Banks are looking for ways to become more agile, to better serve their customers, and compete in a digital world. In this article, we’ll discuss the digital transformation solution for banking. Keep reading to learn more about digital transformation and how it can help the banking industry.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation is the process of transforming how an organization operates to better meet the needs of its customers and employees. It includes changes to organizational structures, processes, and practices that allow the business to take advantage of digital technologies and channels to improve performance and outcomes. Digital transformation can be applied in any industry, but it’s particularly relevant for businesses in highly regulated industries like banking, where there are large legacy systems that need to be modernized.
Banks are under pressure from both consumers and regulators to upgrade their technology infrastructure. Consumer demand for new services like mobile banking and payments has put pressure on banks to offer digital experiences that are fast, convenient, and secure. At the same time, regulators are increasingly focused on ensuring that banks have robust cyber security measures in place to protect customer data. Digital transformation can help banks address both of these challenges by helping them modernize their technology infrastructure and improve their cyber security posture.
What factors should banks consider when digitally transforming?
There are a number of factors that banks must take into account when planning their digital transformation. One of the most important is to ensure that the new architecture can support multiple channels and devices. This will allow customers to interact with the bank in the way that is most convenient for them. They may want to use the bank’s website on their computer, their mobile phone, or even a tablet. They may also want to use the bank’s services through social media, such as Facebook or Twitter.
Another important factor to consider is the range of services that the bank offers. The architecture must be able to support not only traditional banking services but also new services that are being developed specifically for the digital age. These may include things like mobile payments and money transfers.
The final factor to consider is the security of the new system. Banks must ensure that their customers’ data is protected at all times. This includes both the data that is being transmitted through the various channels and devices, as well as the data that is being stored.
Developing an architecture that can accommodate multiple channels and devices is essential for banks that want to undergo a successful digital transformation. It will allow them to provide a range of services that meets the needs of their customers, and it will ensure that their data is always protected.
What benefits will be seen once the solution is implemented?
The banking sector is under pressure to invest in digital transformation to remain competitive and meet the needs of customers, who are increasingly using mobile devices and online channels to conduct transactions.
There are several benefits that banks can expect to see once they implement digital transformation. First, banks can improve customer experience by making it easier for customers to conduct transactions through convenient online and mobile channels. In addition, banks can reduce costs by automating processes that were previously done manually. This will allow banks to operate more efficiently and make more money available to invest in other areas such as product development and customer service. Finally, digital transformation can help banks stay ahead of the competition by enabling them to offer new services that cater to the needs of modern consumers.
Cloud migration is a popular digital transformation solution for banks.
Cloud Migration is one of the many digital transformation solutions for banking. It is the process of moving enterprise applications and data to the cloud. The benefits of cloud migration include improved efficiency, scalability, and agility. Cloud migration can also help reduce costs and improve security.
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to migrate to the cloud. One of the most important is the business case. The benefits of cloud migration need to outweigh the costs. Another consideration is the readiness of the organization to move to the cloud. The organization must have the right infrastructure, processes, and culture in place to be successful.
The cloud can be a complex environment and not all applications are suitable for migration. Applications need to be evaluated to see if they are cloud-friendly. They need to be able to run in a cloud environment and be able to scale up and down as needed.
Once the decision to migrate to the cloud has been made, the organization needs to develop a plan. The plan should include the steps needed to migrate the applications and data. It should also include the resources needed and the estimated time to completion.
The cloud migration process can be complex but there are also many benefits to be gained. Organizations that are able to successfully migrate to the cloud can improve their efficiency, agility, and scalability. They can also reduce their costs and improve their security.
Banks can use big data analytics to digitally transform their organizations.
Big data analytics is one of the solutions that banks are turning to in order to stay ahead of the curve.
The use of big data analytics can help banks to gain a better understanding of their customers, and to identify and understand potential risks. It can also help banks to improve their customer service, and to develop new products and services.
Big data analytics can help banks to make better decisions by providing them with insights that would not be possible to obtain using traditional methods. It can also help to improve the efficiency of banking processes and to reduce costs.
The use of big data analytics is becoming increasingly important, and banks that don’t embrace it will likely find themselves at a disadvantage. Those that do adopt big data analytics will be in a better position to take advantage of the opportunities that digital transformation solutions present.
Digitally transform your banking business.
Digital transformation solutions are important for banking because they can help organizations to improve customer experience, increase efficiency and agility, and reduce costs. Overall, these solutions can help banks to compete in the digital age and provide better services to their customers.
First Bank Woos Female Entrepreneurs with Single-Digit Loans
By Adedapo Adesanya
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced the launch of the FirstGem fund — FirstGem loan, a single-digit loan scheme, targeted at female entrepreneurs in the country.
In a statement signed by Mrs Folake Ani-Mumuney, the bank’s Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, it was stated that the scheme was exclusively designed to put women at an advantage in contributing to the socio-economic development of the country.
She said, “we are delighted with the role our FirstGem product plays in creating an avenue to enlarge the business activities and endeavours of female entrepreneurs across the country.
“Our FirstGem value proposition offers real solutions to constraints encountered by female entrepreneurs and working professionals, as it exposes women to opportunities for the advancement of their business.
“We implore every female business-minded individual to take advantage of the FirstGem loan as it puts them at an advantage to contribute their quota to the national economy.”
Mrs Ani-Mumuney said the FirstGem loan scheme was designed for female-owned or partnered SMEs who were into food/beverage processing and packaging, beauty and cosmetics, confectionaries, catering and restaurants, transportation (Logistics) and agric/agro-allied (retail value chain).
She said that the FirstGem loan with an interest rate of nine per cent per annum was a collateral-free loan available to the bank’s existing and prospective female customers, adding that customers could access loans from N500,000 to N3,000,000.
Mrs Ani-Mumuney said that FirstGem launched in 2016 had been impactful in driving financial inclusion, influencing women’s empowerment through gender-advancement programmes, financial literacy, wealth management and building an investment portfolio.
According to her, FirstGem is designed specifically to meet the needs of the female gender, aged 18 years and above.
She also said that the loan was targeted at a broad spectrum of women, working professionals, entrepreneurs or market women through an array of benefits such as free business advisory services.
She listed other benefits as access to finance, specialised training on business development initiatives, regular insights on business/investment opportunities and mouth-watering discounts at partner merchant outlets.
Mrs Ani-Mumuney urged female-owned or partnered SMEs to visit the bank’s website to access the loan, urging them to download and fill out the Retail Loan Application Form and submit the completed form to the nearest FirstBank branch with accompanying documents.
Union Bank’s Acquisition: Titan Trust Bank Aims for Market Dominance, Targets Tier 1
By Oluwafemi Adeoye
With the recent acquisition of Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) Plc by Titan Trust Bank Limited (TTB), a deal that took stakeholders by surprise last year, the latter is now positioned to maintain its lead as a technology-driven tier-1 bank, OLUWAFEMI ADEOYE writes.
When Titan Trust Bank Limited (TTB), one of the three newest entrants into the Nigerian banking industry, began operations in October 2019, many people gave it just a passing glance, but after a few years, the achievements of the lender have taken industry watchers by surprise.
Established on the 12th of December 2018 with a solid post-capitalization financial base in real cash, the bank has proven that it is ready to compete with long-standing and well-rooted Nigerian banks.
In pursuit of an expansionary course with the objective of building a stronger brand capable of taking on a larger market share of a continent striving for financial inclusion, the lender which is on a mission to take advantage of the identified gaps in the banking sector and address the unmet needs of the retail mass market, SMEs and corporates, again took the industry by surprise after it announced its acquisition of 89.4% interest in 104-year-old Union Bank, but later upped the stake to 93.4%, in barely four years of its existence.
Its expansionary drive could not have come at a better time with Tier-1 banks moving to HoldCo structures, FinTech standing as the next big thing, and the African economy desperately in need of strengthened financial systems.
The deal, regarded as one of the largest acquisition deals in the history of Nigeria’s banking industry, with an off-market deal worth N191 billion, was however formalized recently with Tropical General Investments Limited (TGI Group), the parent company of TTB, becoming majority shareholder and core investor in Union Bank.
The acquisition stands as the biggest in recent years, dwarfing the N120 billion Crown Mills paid to acquire Dangote Flour Mills and the N91 billion NIPCO paid for a majority share in Mobil Nigeria, capital market analysts noted. Also, this is the biggest deal in the banking space since the N72 billion merger between Access Bank and Diamond Bank Plc.
This is, however, not the first time that a smaller bank will acquire a bigger one in Nigeria, it is however the first time that an unlisted bank, which is barely four years old, will be acquiring a listed, century-old bank.
It is worthy to note that TGI Group, having been in Nigeria for over 3 decades with an established track record of successfully establishing and profitably running all their subsidiaries, is the perfect investor for Union Bank as they are evidently here for the long run rather than short term investors. This will obviously provide Union Bank with a lot of stability and the established expertise of TGI and the team that they have put together to make Union Bank a bank of the first choice for Nigerians in the very near future. Business analysts have, however, described the deal as a win-win for Nigerians and the Nigerian economy.
The completion of the Titan-Union deal has also seen the exit of the former board and management team of Union Bank and the emergence of Mr Farouk Mohammed Gumel and Mr Mudassir Amray as its board chairman and new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) respectively, effective June 2, 2022. Other board appointments under the new ownership of the bank include Mr Andrew Ojei, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed, and Mr Lawrence Mackombo – all Non-Executive Directors.
But unknown to many, since the inception of TTB in October 2019, the bank has been on an upward trajectory and has further positioned itself as a challenger bank.
At the start of its operations, the management team led by Mr Mudassir Amray, the current chief executive of Union Bank, and Mrs Adaeze Udensi (current acting managing director of TTB), drew up a holistic and integrated approach to business modernization, which has formed the foundation for the bank’s superior customer-centric experience.
The impact of this strategic decision led to a positive impact on the bank’s performance within its first three months of operations where the bank recorded a profit after tax (PAT) of over N600 million.
In its determination to take financial services to every household in order to drive effective inclusion and participation in the recovery and growth of Nigeria’s economy, TTB invested substantially in technology and developed fully integrated service models that enable its customers to enjoy banking services through a wide range of channels. The bank believes in innovation, creativity, and the use of technology to enhance the lives of its customers while it also strives to ensure that its products and services are meeting the changing needs of its customers.
Recently, TTB launched and deployed the latest version of Oracle’s FCCM module, powering our AML/CFT infrastructure, used in over 120+ sites by top global banks. It has also invested in top-notch infrastructure for AML/KYC, as well as the Oracle Financial Services Analytical Application (OFSAA) to ensure rigorous analysis and measurement of its risk-performance objectives.
In less than three years of operation, TTB has grown to earn the confidence of the banking public, offering quality banking services with cutting-edge technology that enables its customers to enjoy banking services through a wide range of channels.
Therefore, with its recent acquisition of Union Bank, one of Nigeria’s long-standing and most respected financial institutions with a network of over 293 sales and service centres and over 937 ATMs spread across Nigeria, analysts believe the deal may trigger a fresh competition among money deposit banks in the country.
The lender has exhibited a grand ambition to mature to a Tier-1 bank in the next five years and is banking on its vast digital banking, strength to disrupt a space where the big five banks commonly known by their initials as FUGAZ hold sway.
The acquisition eases the path for TTB to become Nigeria’s sixth biggest lender, with Union Bank’s assets climbing in valuation to N2.6 trillion at the end of 2021 and Titan’s standing at N246 billion as of December 2021.
According to Mr Tunde Lemo, chairman of Titan Trust Bank, with the combination of TTB, a tier-3 bank, and UBN, a tier-2 bank, “we are going to see the emergence of a tier-1 bank.”
“Union Bank is one of the largest in terms of network. But we think that after 104 years of operation, it can be rejuvenated by a bank like Titan Trust Bank that has cutting-edge modern banking skills.
“We believe that by combining fintech strength with the brand value of UBN, we can make an impression in Nigeria by deploying modern banking to every nook and cranny of the country.
“The deal represents a unique opportunity to combine Union Bank’s longstanding and leading banking franchise with TTB’s innovation-led model, which promises to enhance the product and service offering for our combined valued customers.
“So, there will be a significant synergy between the two institutions,” he said.
With the new development, the bank is poised for market dominance in the financial services industry, especially in the retail segment.
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