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By Dipo Olowookere

The number of companies on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) will soon expand if plans by Cititrust Financial Services to list its shares scale through.

The organisation is planning to join the nation’s stock exchange to make it more robust and the listing would be done by introduction, according to the Country Chief Executive Officer of Cititrust Financial Services, Mr Ikechukwu Peter.

In a chat with financial journalists in Lagos recently, Mr Peter disclosed that the process should be completed before the end of the second quarter of 2021.

If this happens, Cititrust Financial Services would be the second company to join the exchange this year after Briclinks Africa Plc, which listed its shares on the NSE in January by introduction.

However, it is not certain if the shares would be listed on the mainboard or on the growth board like Briclinks Africa.

Cititrust explained that the listing will enable it to raise fresh capital from the capital market to deliver quality services to its customers like supporting the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), which are the bedrock of the nation’s economy because of their significant contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).

According to Mr Peter, SMEs “represent about 90 per cent of businesses and more than 50 per cent of employment worldwide. It is equally on record that formal SMEs contribute up to 40 per cent of GDP in emerging economies.”

He noted that the listing of the company will provide a platform to unlocked several opportunities for SMEs to thrive, including granting credit facilities to operators in the sector.

While commenting on the company’s loan exposure, he said it was minimal and within the threshold of regulatory requirement of five per cent, attributing the reason for a high non-performing loan (NPL) to lack of effective monitoring from the point of disbursement.

“If you don’t monitor these loans properly, you will discover that even the customer that has the capacity to pay, will not pay.

“When proper structures are on the ground, the monies will come back. When the monitoring is there, things will not go bad. The structure of the loan is another thing that should be looked at. Once all these dynamics are properly understood, the exposure will be minimal,” he explained.

In terms of the firm’s business, he said efforts would be made to improve the balance sheet size of N36 billion by 50 per cent before the end of 2021.

“We are also looking at growing our lending powers, we have a risk asset portfolio of about N12 billion, we are also looking at growing that by another 50 per cent incrementally by the end of this year,” he said.

He said that the company was also making plans to migrate Living Trust Mortgage Bank from a state licenced mortgage bank to a national mortgage bank.

“We are coming up with a programme through our Cititrust Academy on April 15, where people can learn the basics of business and be able to impact their operational lives as they move on.

“We expect that by mid next year, all our subsidiaries will be top industry players in the space where they play because we believe that money is made at the top,” Mr Peter stated.

As for the financial technology (fintech) sector, the investment expert submitted that the government and financial institutions must begin to realise that it has come to stay, noting that the company was positioned to excel in the space.

“The truth of the matter is that fintech is the way, any business that is not positioned for that right now will experience a dramatic nosedive. We are not there yet, we are putting the virtual processes in place.

“The platforms are being built as we speak, the engagement with vendors is actually in top gear. So, between now and the end of the year, we should be playing actively in that space because the truth is, it is an investment that cannot go wrong. Plans are seriously in motion and before the end of the year, we will be active in that space,” he said.

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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