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Zenith Bank Won’t Seek Fresh Funds After $500m Eurobond Expires

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By Dipo Olowookere

The management of Zenith Bank Plc has disclosed that there is no immediate plan to approach the debt market to borrow fresh funds to boost its operations and revenue.

This disclosure was made last Thursday at the analyst call of the financial institution after the release of its financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2018 last Tuesday.

Addressing financial experts and investors during the conference call, Zenith Bank said after repaying its $500 million Eurobond, which matures on April 22, 2019, it has no intention to make another borrowing anytime soon.

Business Post reports that in 2014, Zenith Bank sold a $500 million Eurobond to investors, with the exercise conducted for the lender by Goldman Sachs and Citibank.

The $500 million Eurobond was the first tranche of the bank’s $1 billion Global Medium Term Note programme.

The exercise, which received 200 percent oversubscription, had offers from investors across the globe, including from Europe, the United States, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Also during the analyst call last week, Zenith Bank said its outlook for 2019 was positive, supported by a fairly stable inflation rate, converging foreign exchange market and near target oil production. The bank further said it would continue its investment in the retail segment of the market to consolidate its leadership position in both the retail and corporate segments while it maintains its shock proof balance sheet.

In addition, Zenith Bank plans to grow its loans by 7.5 percent during this fiscal year against the loan growth of 2.5 percent recorded in 2018.

The financial institution said it hopes to tap into the agricultural sector this year to improve its earnings and profit.

It said in 2019, there are strategies to provide more credit facilities manufacturers in the sector, which will in turn grow the economy.

An analysis of the company’s 2018 financial results showed that the profit before tax (PBT) increased by 16 percent to N232 billion from N199 billion reported in 2017. The record PBT was achieved through the firm’s optimisation of its cost of funds, cost-to-income ratio and cost of risk, ensuring that earnings per share strengthened by 11 percent to N6.15.

However, due to a challenging macro-environment, gross earnings and interest income reduced by 15 percent and 7 percent respectively, driven by declining trading income, compressed yields on assets, and a reduction in the loan book by 10 percent.

Despite the decline in gross earnings, Zenith Bank mitigated these knock-on effects through growth of its net interest income and operating income by 15 percent and 8 percent respectively as it was able to ensure improved cost efficiencies across the business.

This focus on cost efficiencies is yielding tangible benefits as the lender recorded its lowest ever cost to-income ratio at 49.3 percent from 52.8 percent in 2017.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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GTBank to Give 1,000 Women Free Health Insurance for Int’l Women’s Day

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GTBank Beta Health

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

As the 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD21) calls on people and organisations to #choosetochallenge for a better world for women, Guaranty Trust Bank plc (GTBank) has launched an initiative, tagged #GiveHerBetaHealth, to draw attention to the need for universal essential healthcare coverage, especially for women in the informal sector.

Through the initiative, the leading African financial institution is providing 1000 self-employed women with BetaHealth for a year, at no cost.

Launched in 2020, BetaHealth is a low-cost healthcare package that provides coverage for essential health services such as malaria treatments, pre and postnatal care, accidents and, medical emergencies as well as life insurance, all at a subscription fee of N500 per month.

Offered through more than 1000 hospitals and pharmacies nationwide, BetaHealth also provides a telemedicine service that allows the user to speak with a doctor over the phone anytime, anywhere.

With the #GiveHerBetaHealth campaign, the bank is calling on the general public to nominate 1000 women who will be given free BetaHealth coverage for a year. Nomination can be done via www.giveherbetahealth.gtbank.com.

#GiveHerBetaHealth is the latest in a long line of GTBank initiatives that reflects the Bank’s commitment to extending access to critical services for everyone, irrespective of their social or economic background.

The campaign focuses on empowering self-employed women in the informal sector, many of who have limited or no access to financial services and health insurance.

With this campaign, the bank is putting a spotlight on the need for universal access to essential healthcare services that is affordable for every working Nigerian, and accessible across the country.

BetaHealth is available for everyone through *737*52*500*50# from a mobile phone.

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First Bank Introduces Accounts for SMEs

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first bank branch

By Ahmed Rahma

Nigeria’s premier and leading financial institution, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has unveiled its Small Medium Enterprise (SME) specific accounts designed to reinforce its role in putting the enterprises at an advantage whilst contributing to national growth and development.

The SME accounts are of two types; FirstSME Classic and FirstSME Deluxe.

The accounts are offered to SMEs, irrespective of industry, and tailored to have them exposed to a wide range of services and opportunities that are essential for their continued growth and role in contributing to national development.

According to the lender in a statement on Monday, the advantages and features of these accounts include; access to Temporary OverDrafts (TODs) and other facilities subject to meeting Risk Adjustment Capital (RAC) of each product; immediate enrolment on all digital platform; free access to FirstBank SME events; free access to extensive business promotional and networking opportunities on the SMEConnect portal; access to a wide range of discounted and promotional offers.

Amongst the many opportunities available to holders of FirstSME account is also the SMEConnect initiative of the bank which is a platform through which SMEs access the bank’s unique propositions that will equip them with the essential tools needed for the growth of their business.

The SMEConnect portal is also designed to help SMEs identify various gaps that hinder their business growth.

With FirstBank’s over 126 years of impacting the economy, the bank’s SME innovative Business Diagnostics Tool will also help proffer tailored solutions, whilst creating avenues for business improvement, profitability and sustainability.

Following extensive research by the bank, 7 strategic pillars have been considered essential for the sustainability and growth of SMEs.

The 7 pillars – connect to infrastructure, connect to talent, capacity building, connect to policy and regulation, connect to resources, connect to market as well as connect to finance.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank, Mr Adesola Adeduntan, “FirstBank is delighted to unlock several opportunities for SMEs to thrive.”

“Our FirstSME account is one of the numerous opportunities designed to empower SMEs to continually drive impact as the backbone and contributors to employment and economic growth,” he further said.

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Banks Implement CBN Naira for Dollar Promo

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Nigerian Banks

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The implementation of the new foreign exchange policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the weekend has commenced.

On Saturday, the CBN announced that it would give N5 for every $1 sent to beneficiaries in Nigeria through any of the accredited International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs).

The move, under what is called the CBN Naira 4 Dollar Scheme, is expected to last for two months from March 8 to May 8, 2021.

Some analysts have said the FX policy was introduced by the central bank to increase the flow of Dollars into the country, arguing that the country was experiencing a shortage in FX.

Recently, the CBN silently devalued the Naira at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the forex market to N410/$1 from N395/$1 as the Dollar squeeze persists.

To address this issue, the CBN came up with the new policy it explained would enable “all recipients of diaspora remittances through CBN licensed IMTOs [to] be paid N5 for every $1 received as remittances inflow.”

It further said it was to make it possible for Nigeria to tap into the booming remittances industry as a forecast by PwC suggests that Nigeria’s remittance flows could reach $34.89 billion by 2023.

The apex bank had noted that to achieve this, “remittance infrastructure” must be improved and “the right policies” put in place, adding that “Nigeria aspires to ensure that remittance flows and diaspora investments become a significant source of external financing.”

The CBN expressed optimism that the rebate of N5 for every $1 of fund remitted to Nigeria “will help to make the process of sending remittance through formal bank channels cheaper and more convenient for Nigerians in the diaspora.”

Business Post observed that commercial banks operating in the country have already started the implementation of the new FX policy of its regulator.

GTBank, one of the tier-one lenders in the country, sent a notice to its customers over the weekend to inform them of the development.

“For every Dollar sent to you from anywhere in the world via money transfer agents, you’ll receive N5 more into your GTBank account or over the counter at any GTBank branch nationwide,” the notice seen by Business Post read.

On its part, Fidelity Bank said, “For every Dollar you receive via any of our IMTOs, you get N5 cashback, either into your Fidelity account or over the counter.”

“Receive money sent from friends and family living abroad at any UBA branch nationwide and get an instant cash reward.

“UBA will give an extra N5.00 for every $1.00 received. For example, if you receive $1000 at UBA, you get an extra N5,000,” the notice from UBA said.

Several other financial institutions have also informed their customers of the new policy and have urged them to benefit from it.

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Banking

Union Bank Unveils Multi-Asset Trading Platform M36

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Union Bank M36

By Adedapo Adesanya

A new digital platform designed to deliver a wide range of investment products directly to individuals and other investors, M36, has launched in Nigeria.

Through an innovative, user-friendly app, M36 offers investment options not typically available on self-service digital platforms including foreign currency transactions, commercial papers, local and foreign-denominated bonds, treasury bills and other fixed-income products.

M36 also offers bespoke solutions for both new and experienced investors as well as a 24-hour lifestyle concierge service to meet the needs of discerning customers.

In a rapidly evolving environment with changing consumer behaviour fueled by technology and growing access to information, M36 is looking to expand opportunities for investors at all levels, while also simplifying the process of investing.

M36 was developed by Union Bank as part of its strategic focus on delivering superior customer solutions leveraging technology and innovation. The bank partnered with several asset management companies to deliver a broad range of investment products on the M36 platform.

Speaking about this, Mr Chuka Emerole, Head, Treasury at Union Bank said, “M36 eliminates the traditional barriers to investing and offers investors direct access to financial instruments that would usually require the service of an investment or relationship manager.

“We’ve designed M36 to ensure simplicity in the onboarding and investing process while also empowering the customer to make sound investment choices based on their financial objectives.

“We worked with key partners to deliver both the experience and products on M36 and are confident that we have launched a superior product in today’s marketplace.”

With the 24-hour concierge service, M36 users can access round the clock support from investment advisors as they actively manage their portfolios.

M36 also offers loans, personal travel allowance, will and trust services and many more essential products under its Life Essentials menu.

M36 is available for download on the App Store and the Google Play Store.

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Excitement as Keystone Bank Reopens Ikotun Lagos Branch

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Keystone Bank Ikotun Branch

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A leading financial services provider, Keystone Bank Limited, has announced the re-opening of its revamped Ikotun, Lagos branch for commercial operations.

The branch was declared open on March 1, 2021, by the Managing Director/CEO of Keystone Bank, Mr Olaniran Olayinka, represented by the divisional head, Bank Wide Operations, Mr Oluwasegun Olatona, and supported by other heads of divisions in the bank.

A statement issued by the financial institution disclosed that the strategic decision to reopen the branch located at 113 Ikotun Idimu Road, Ikotun, Lagos, was in line with its drive to reach a wider audience and meet the needs of customers in the area, specifically the retail/MSME who are in need of a service-oriented bank that will work with them to grow their businesses.

The CEO of Keystone Bank expressed optimism that the resumption of banking services at the Ikotun branch would go a long way in ensuring that customers within/around the Ikotun axis can experience the bank’s wide array of services.

“At Keystone Bank, we are working round the clock to ensure that our customers enjoy seamless and convenience banking.

“While we are focused on enhancing financial inclusion by encouraging the unbanked through innovative digital platforms and incentives, it is also important that we show optimal physical presence in key retail centres aimed at strengthening financial inclusion and supporting MSMEs.

“Hence, as a retail-driven bank, small and medium enterprises in the Ikotun vicinity would enjoy loan offerings and empowerment to grow their businesses.

“Keystone Bank has been active in supporting the growing MSME sector in its locations of operation over the last nine years through a variety of products, services and capacity building programmes which are sometimes, executed in partnership with reputable brands such as Facebook, Google, Enterprise Development Centre, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry etc. We also offer loan facilities that would assist in financing generating working capital and asset acquisition.

“These services are rendered through our over 155 business outlets located in every state of Nigeria, including the FCT, Abuja,” he stated.

In a chat with newsmen, some business owners along Ikotun-Idimu road revealed that small businesses (artisans, traders, etc) in the neighbourhood are in dire need of a bank that understands the special need of micro, small and medium enterprises such as access to finance, low-cost transactions, flexible savings solution, networking, capacity building etc and they were happy that Keystone Bank has come to fill these gaps.

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Fidelity Bank to Discuss Impact of CBN Policy on Diaspora Investments

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By Ahmed Rahma

A leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank Plc, has concluded plans to host its diaspora webinar series with the inaugural edition on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

The virtual session themed The New CBN FX Policy and Positive Impact to Diaspora Investments in Nigeria seeks to enlighten Nigerian citizens’ resident abroad on recent policy measures by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and their attendant implications for diaspora investments.

According to the lender in a statement, the session will also aim specifically at providing the people with valuable insights, intelligence, and expertise on how to stay on top of their investments back home.

The event, to be streamed live on YouTube and Zoom, will have in attendance dignitaries and several other persons in the financial industry.

It was disclosed that the programme was borne out of the need to deepen engagement with Nigerian diaspora community particularly as developmental partners considering the critical role remittances play in driving sustainable economic growth.

Speaking on the webinar, the CEO of Fidelity Bank, Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, stated that the session was most appropriate and timely, adding that “the session will offer the Nigerian diaspora greater clarity on all of the recent policies enacted by government with a view to enabling them make sound investment decisions.”

According to Mrs Onyeali-Ikpe, the bank, in the last 12 years, has become a dependable partner for diaspora remittances and investment.

Armed with a deep understanding of these customers’ needs, she explained that the bank has continued to offer bespoke products and services that are unrivalled in the financial services industry which includes, diaspora mortgage and dollar denominated fixed deposit investment account that attracts up to 5 per cent annual interest depending on the amount and tenure.

Recall that the CBN, as part of efforts to liberalise, simplify and improve the receipt and administration of diaspora remittances into the country had issued guidelines to ensure that beneficiaries of diaspora remittances through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) receive such inflows in foreign currency (US dollars) through the designated bank of their choice.

The policy became necessary in view of the urgent need to deepen the foreign exchange (FX) market, provide more liquidity and create transparency in the administration of diaspora remittances into Nigeria.

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