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Union Bank’s Acquisition: Titan Trust Bank Aims for Market Dominance, Targets Tier 1

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TITAN TRUST BANK LOGO

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.

Banking

Visa Sponsors Ecobank Cardholder’s Trip to Qatar for World Cup

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Ecobank cardholder

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A customer of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Ejike Michael Eziuche, will have the opportunity to travel to Qatar for the ongoing FIFA World Cup taking place in the country for free.

This was made possible by just being a customer of the financial institution in Nigeria and being issued a Visa card by the bank.

The Ecobank cardholder was among the winners of the payments firm’s Spend & Win Campaign, designed to reward customers and football lovers who were active users of their Visa cards.

The only condition to be part of the promo was spending a minimum of N50,000 in at least five transactions to qualify. The winners will have the opportunity of a first-class experience in the tournament, all expenses covered as Visa is the Official Payments Sponsor of the tournament.

“Mr Eziuche’s emergence as a winner is a reflection of the hassle-free payment experience our customers enjoy with their Ecobank Visa cards.

“At Ecobank, we are always innovating our services to suit our customers’ lifestyles, especially when it comes to how they can effortlessly access our products. I am truly delighted for him and wish him a memorable time in Qatar,” the Head of Consumer Banking at Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Korede Demola-Adeniyi, commented.

“We understand our role as a leading payments provider, pioneering seamless payments experiences across Africa; this is why we partner with critical stakeholders like Visa to ensure that our customers can have cards that allow them to enjoy financial services from anywhere in the world.

“Our promise to our customers has always been the same; to provide them with access to affordable and reliable financial services.

“We will continue to do so through our digital platforms, including Ecobank Mobile App and USSD *326#, Ecobank Online, Ecobank OmniPlus, Ecobank Omnilite, EcobankPay, Ecobank RapidTransfer, ATMs, POSs and an extensive distribution network of over 250 branches and over 50,000 agency banking locations,” she added.

Ecobank Nigeria is a subsidiary of the Ecobank Group, the leading pan-African banking group with operations in 33 African countries and an international presence in four locations (London, Paris, Beijing, and Dubai).

The lender is a major player in the distribution of financial services in Nigeria, leveraging digital platforms, including Ecobank Mobile App and USSD *326#, Ecobank Online, Ecobank OmniPlus, Ecobank Omnilite, EcobankPay, Ecobank RapidTransfer, ATMs, POSs and an extensive distribution network of over 250 branches and over 60,000 agency banking locations.

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Banking

Sterling Bank Sponsors Training of 1,000 Youths at NJFP

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Sterling Bank

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Sterling Bank Plc has sponsored the training of 1,000 fellows at the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme (NJFP), a youth empowerment initiative between the Nigerian government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The programme, launched in 2021, was borne out of rising unemployment and the COVID-19 pandemic, which adversely impacted the ability of young Nigerians to find work.

The initiative seeks to connect talented graduates with local job opportunities that apply their expertise while equipping them with world-class practical knowledge and relevant skills, and it does not matter if an applicant does not have job experience.

It targets a broad range of sectors, including the start-up economy, innovation, and creative industries, the digital and technology sector, the green economy sector, financial services, key public and international development institutions, research and development, agriculture, real estate, construction, transportation, and health services. In other words, there is a place for every organisation in this programme.

The Managing Director of Sterling Bank, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, explained that his company supported the programme because of its interest in the education sector as one of five sectors it is presently concentrating investments in under its HEARTs of Sterling programme. The other sectors are Health, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation.

It will be recalled that as part of its commitment to the reduction of unemployment among youths in the country, Sterling Bank Plc recently renewed its partnership with iCreate Africa to provide a payment system that allows qualified workers to purchase tools and pay in instalments.

Consequently, the bank has also introduced different packages so that skill-seekers can access soft loans to buy tools, and it is encouraging skill-seekers not to let the opportunity slip off their hands.

Also, as part of this strategy, the commercial bank had also expanded its Café One community to Abuja in partnership with iCreate.

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Banking

Zenith Bank Assures Budding Entrepreneurs Necessary Support to Succeed

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Budding entrepreneurs

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria have been assured by Zenith Bank Plc of all the necessary support they need to succeed and become corporate organisations capable of employing many people.

The Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, who gave this assurance last Wednesday, disclosed that this was why the bank organised the second Zenith Tech Fair themed Future Forward 2.0.

At the keenly contested hackathon session, the sum of N53 million was won by the participants, with Ecotutu, a cleantech company making cooling affordable and accessible for businesses, especially in the agricultural sector, emerging as the overall winner and taking home the grand prize of N20 million.

This is in addition to a mentorship programme with Seedstars, a company dedicated to implementing high-quality capacity-building programmes for entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

The first runner-up, Foris Labs, an app-based platform that allows students to conduct science experiments individually and in groups interactively via their mobile phones, won N15 million and a mentorship programme.

The second runner-up, Finva, a start-up which helps creditors offer credits at low risk, won N10 million as well as a mentorship programme.

Other finalists who took home N1 million each were Sanwo, Itinu -Ev, Eduvacity, Green Bii, Zion Robotics, Sono Care, Base, and I grow Africa.

Addressing guests at the Eko Convention Centre, Mr Onyeagwu announced that “all finalists would be enlisted into our incubation lab for grooming and mentorship.

“Our expectation is that we are going to scale and grow them just like the zenith brand. So, looking at what we have gone through, I can tell you that so much iron has been loaded on fire. The only thing left is to activate the digital talents, tech skills and entrepreneurship that would culminate in a new digital economy for Nigeria.”

Described as a huge success by participants, the two-day Tech Fair featured presentations on the leading technological innovations that cut across different aspects of life, such as Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Robotics, Big Data, FinTech, Augmented Reality, Data Analytics, 5G and Communication Technologies, with the keynote address, The Future of Banking: Digital Transformation Journey, delivered by Brett King, the renowned futurist, bestselling author, award-winning speaker, founder of Moven and Author of Bank 4.0.

The event also featured a goodwill message by the founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia.

Other eminent IT practitioners from top global brands who also made presentations included Tarik Alatovic, Senior Partner, McKinsey; Juliet Ehimuan, West Africa Director, Google; Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Inc.; Andrew Uaboi, Vice President/Head, Visa West Africa; Mrs Rakiya Mohammed, Director of Information Technology, CBN; Chris Lu, Managing Director, Huawei Technologies Nigeria, and Dame Ms Adaora Umeoji, Deputy Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, amongst others.

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