Union Bank to Grow Retail Customer Base Despite N5.9tr Legal Battle
By Dipo Olowookere
Tier-2 lender, Union Bank of Nigeria, has expressed its desire to focus more on improving its retail customer base as it forges ahead in the year.
Managing Director of the financial institution, Mr Emeka Emuwa, while speaking at the firm’s 49th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja on Tuesday, disclosed that Union Bank was now in pole position to execute its growth agenda from 2018 onwards.
According to him, “Strengthening our capital base through the Rights Issue was key for the bank in 2017.
“Notwithstanding the challenges a tightened economy presented, the rights issue was 20 percent oversubscribed.”
He attributed this overwhelming success to “strong shareholder and investor confidence in Union Bank’s immediate and longer-term plans.”
The bank chief said, “With sufficient capital buffers, we are now in pole position to execute our growth agenda from 2018 onwards.”
“Operationally, we continued to focus on growing our retail customer base and optimising customer experience with simpler, smarter banking solutions,” he added.
“We launched an upgraded suite of digital channels including UnionMobile, UnionOnline and our unique USSD banking code *826#, driving an increase in active subscribers above 100 percent on the mobile app and online banking platforms.
“Union Bank’s alternative banking platform remains the fastest growing in the industry. We continue to attract broad segments of new customers, adding 90 percent more new-to bank customers in 2017 compared to 2016,” Mr Emuwa said further.
A breakdown of Union Bank’s results for the 2017 financial year showed that the lender reported a profit before tax (PBT) of N15.5 billion and a profit after tax of N14.6 billion.
The bank also achieved gross earnings of N163.8 billion with the operating expenses increasing to N65.1 billion from N62 billion in 2016 due to inflationary pressures and the impact of devaluation on technology and network investments.
Furthermore, interest income grew by 25 percent to N124.5 billion from N99.7 billion in 2016, as a result of the impact of Naira devaluation on the foreign currency denominated loan book, government securities yields and loan book repricing.
Non-interest revenue also moved up by 31 percent to N39.3 billon from N29.9 billion in 2016, driven by improved fee and commission income, trading income and a more effective debt recovery machine.
In addition, gross loans grew by five percent to N560.7 billion compared with N535.8 billion in 2016, while customer deposits rose by 22 percent to N802.4 billion from N658.4 billion in 2016, continuing its upward trajectory since 2016.
The growth was led by investments in customer-led products, recently upgraded alternate channels, along with a strengthened brand.
Union Bank’s annual report showed that the bank has a non-performing loan ratio of 19.78 percent of a total N517.1 billion at the end of the financial year under review.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Union Bank, Mr Cyril Odu, who presented the financial institution’s report to shareholders, said the lender was involved in 850 litigation cases with the amount claimed to total N220.26 billion.
However, he added that the total amount claimed in cases instituted by Union Bank in court amounted to N77.17 billion.
According to him, “A total provision of N2.98 billion has been made based on the advice of professional legal counsel.”
In its financial statements, Union Bank said, “There are three cases with total claim of N5.921 trillion of which judgement was awarded against the Bank in conjunction with other parties and provisions were not recognised in the financial statements.
“Management is of the view that a high level of success is expected at the Court of Appeal based on professional legal advice and that the likelihood of outflow of economic resource is considered remote.
“The Directors are of the opinion that none of the aforementioned cases is likely to have a material adverse effect on the Bank and are not aware of any other pending or threatened claims and litigations besides those included in the above number.”
Zenith Bank Retains Award for Adherence to Global Best Practices
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
For adhering to global best practices and institutionalising corporate governance, Zenith Bank Plc against been announced as the Best Corporate Governance Financial Services in Africa.
This is the fourth consecutive year the financial institution is running away with the award, setting an industry-wide example of best practices in corporate governance on the continent.
The lender was bestowed with this recognition by the Ethical Boardroom in the Spring 2023 edition of its magazine.
Ethical Boardroom is a trailblazing and leading international magazine that delivers in-depth coverage and critically-astute analysis of global corporate governance issues to help boards stay ahead of the governance curve.
The chief executive of Zenith Bank, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, dedicated the award to the company’s founder and Chairman, Mr Jim Ovia, for providing the template for an enduring and very successful institution.
He also dedicated it to the board for their vision and outstanding leadership, the staff for their dedication and commitment, and the bank’s customers for their unwavering loyalty to the brand.
“I am extremely pleased that Zenith Bank has been awarded the Ethical Boardroom Corporate Governance Award as a regional governance champion for the fourth year.
“No doubt, the bank’s board has pioneered the exemplary governance culture for which we are now renowned. Indeed, this recognition reflects our steadfast commitment, discipline and high ethos in the conduct of our business and dedication to the principles of good corporate governance.
“This award will motivate us to strengthen this culture internally and advocate for good governance at every forum,” Mr Onyeagwu said.
Zenith Bank has been generally adjudged a Corporate Governance compliant bank by the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) hence its listing on the Premium Board of the Exchange.
The firm continues to sustain this reputation and reappraise its processes to ensure that its business always conforms to the highest global standards.
Its track record of excellent performances has continued to earn it numerous awards, including being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 13th consecutive year, in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best Bank in Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria 2021 and 2022 in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation In Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards. Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and Retail Bank of the year, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. Similarly, Zenith Bank was named as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.
Small Business Owners in Edo Hail Wema Bank for Support
By Dipo Olowookere
Wema Bank Plc has been praised by small business owners in Edo State for equipping them with the skills needed to scale up their operations.
Between May 22 and 26, 2023, the financial institution trained 250 participants on business management skills, entrepreneurial knowledge, and financial and marketing management skills to boost the success of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the South-South region of the country.
The workshop, organised under the Wema Bank SME Business School, was the fifth edition held at the Uyi Grand Event Centre, Benin City, the state capital, and comprised SME customers and non-customers.
One of the beneficiaries, Ms Edith Igabali, commended Wema Bank for the knowledge-laden seminar which has broadened her perspective on SME management.
“Wema Bank is trying for me; they have made me what I am today. The session was power packed, fun, and educative,” she said.
Another participant and SME owner, Ms Love Onobrakpor, expressed gratitude to the bank for the highly impactful programme, adding that she had no regrets about taking time off work to attend the one-week session. “It was interesting and highly interactive, well worth it,” she stated.
For Ms Precious Izedonmi, she said, “I have been greatly impacted, and I am grateful for the privilege; it can never be trivialized.”
The Head of SME Banking at Wema Bank, Mr Arthur Nkemeh, after the session, expressed his appreciation to “our partners and every facilitator for the session and most importantly our customers who trust us to give them excellent financial services.”
“We will continue to offer superior customer service to our customers with business facilities and advisory services that will help scale up their business; this is one of the many offers to come from Wema Bank,” he said.
The Wema Bank SME Business School was launched in Lagos in 2021 to boost the capacity and skills of SMEs to help them achieve their business objectives.
The second edition took place virtually, while the third and fourth editions happened in Abuja and Port Harcourt, respectively.
The Edo State edition had a very rich and relevant curriculum that directly addressed the issues within the Nigerian SME sector.
The faculty and facilitators also comprised experienced and highly knowledgeable experts in various fields who made the training not only worth the while but beneficial in terms of knowledge gained and new insights revealed about SME management.
The curriculum included a macroeconomic review of the Nigerian economy, business strategy formulation and execution, sales and marketing, customer experience value management, financial management, sustainability, leadership, communication and people management.
NAMB Directs MFBs to Update Recapitalisation Status
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Association of Microfinance Banks (NAMB) has directed all licensed Microfinance Banks (MFBs) nationwide to update it on their recapitalisation status for assessment and follow-up actions with the regulatory authorities.
This was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of the association, Mr Shikir Caleb, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revoked the licences of 179 banks for not adhering to regulations.
The central bank had said that it revoked the MFBs licences due to failure to fulfil or comply with the conditions subject to which their licences were granted.
The apex bank said the banks were sanctioned because they failed to comply with the obligations imposed upon them by the apex bank in accordance with the provisions of Banks.
Now, NAMB said that the latest decision was taken in Abuja at an emergency meeting of the leaders of the NAMB after vigorous deliberations on the latest licence revocation action of many MFBs by the CBN.
According to NAMB, the meeting had in attendance the Board of Trustees, the Past Presidents, and members of the National Working Committee.
The association said that the meeting had its main agenda the revocation of the licences of the affected MFBs and how to proactively forestall future negative occurrences in the MFB sub-sector of the financial system.
“Following the review and deliberations on the licence revocation matter, the top leaders of the NAMB directed that the various state chapters should categorize the affected micro lenders into MFBs that have fully re-capitalised but yet to be approved by CBN.
“MFBs that have not been fully re-capitalised but had ongoing discussions for funding; MFBs that were yet to re-capitalise; and MFBs that have long closed shop,” it said.
According to the statement, the leaders further advised any MFB that had fully re-capitalised but yet to be approved by CBN to present its submissions to the Secretariat with a summary of its recapitalization status as of date.
It was also disclosed that leaders also agreed that the association would review the submissions and have a meeting with all MFBs this Thursday (June 1) in Abuja “with a view to collating all submissions for engagement with the management of CBN.”
Commenting on the licence revocation, the NAMB National President, Mr Joshua Ukute, rued the ugly development and promised that the “leadership of the association would continue to intensify its self-regulation activities in all MfBs nationwide to forestall this type of occurrence.
“We have also mandated the Secretariat of the NAMB to do more by enlightening the public, especially all stakeholders in the association’s financial inclusion drive value-chain with the aim of building confidence in the microfinance Bank sub-sector of the financial system.
“As you all know, the MFBs have, over the years, remained at the forefront of the financial inclusion strategy agenda’s implementation.
“And, they will continue to do their best to deepen financial services, especially in remote communities that the big players are not ready to go,” he added.
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