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Zenith Bank will target more retail lending in 2019 – Amangbo

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Zenith Bank Plc MD/CEO, Mr. Peter Amangbo

Zenith Bank Plc is increasing its focus on consumer lending as lower oil prices weigh on the economy, hurting its business customers.

The Lagos-based bank is expecting to expand retail loans as a percentage of total credit to about four per cent this year from less than one per cent in 2018, its Chief Executive Officer, Peter Amangbo said in interview with Bloomberg at the bank’s headquarters. It will achieve this by making a bigger push into personal loans, car financing and mortgages, he said.

“There is a lot we’re doing on revenue,” Amangbo said.

“We expect our retail franchise to grow. Our electronic business, our digital banking is growing.”

Zenith is making the shift as a 30 per cent drop in oil prices since October hinders the nation’s main export and foreign-currency earner, damping demand for funding.

Nigerian banks are increasingly tapping into digital technology to reach the 50 million unbanked people in a nation of 200 million, while protecting their turf from mobile-phone companies -which have three times as many customers and are bidding to offer money transfers.

The company will probably achieve loan growth of two per cent to five per cent in 2019 after missing its target last year, Amangbo said.

Customer loans declined by eight per cent in the nine months through September to N2 trillion.

“We don’t see a very strong growth in the loan book in 2019,” he said. “Demand is still very weak.”

The lender plans to pay off a $500 million Eurobond maturing in April and won’t issue a new one due to the limited scope for dollar lending, Amangbo said.

“If the opportunity comes, we will go to the market, but now we will pay off that.”

Zenith Bank is still trying recover past loans to the oil and gas sector, the CEO said.

The industry accounted for 46 percent of non-performing loans in the third quarter of last year, and nearly a third of its total loan book.

“I don’t think there is so much appetite to lend to the oil and gas space,” he said.

Concerns over a devaluation of the naira are also weighing on lenders’ desire to finance the industry, whose survival is tied to the availability of foreign exchange for raw material imports.

Deposits are also not increasing, making funding for lenders expensive in the face of cash reserve ratios of 22.5 percent.

“It takes some time for the economy to reset,” he said. “As a bank, you’ll want to be cautious.”

-Bloomberg
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Keystone Bank’s Obeahon Ohiwerei – The turnaround strategist

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Keystone Bank Limited GMD/CEO, Dr. Obeahon Ohiwerei

By: Ezra Adeniyi

The story of corporate revolutions in Nigeria will not be complete without direct reference to Keystone Bank Limited and its Group Managing Director/CEO, Dr. Obeahon Ohiwerei. This is a man who has used his Midas touch to turn things around for the financial institution within a significantly short space of time.

Dr. Ohiwerei is a rare breed. We are familiar with individuals who take over bourgeoning establishments and further increase their worth on face value along the line. But it sounds like a fairy tale to have a professional who takes over a near-comatose organization and almost makes a corporate giant out of it. This has been the lot of Keystone Bank.

In just a little over one year after the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON’s divestment which saw the emergence of Dr. Ohiwerei as its Managing Director cum Chief Executive Officer, Keystone Bank’s narrative changed to a financial institution to reckon with.

On March 24, 2017, Sigma Golf-Riverbank Consortium took over Keystone Bank in its distressed state, which led to the appointment of Dr. Ohiwerei. On assumption of office in August 2017, Ohiwerei drew up a holistic and integrated approach to business modernization which elevated the bank to deliver a superior customer-centric experience.  The impact of this change reflected positive results in its 2018 report card, which restored customers’ trust  and confidence in the system.

Dr. Ohiwerei’s magic wand at Keystone Bank has taken industry watchers by surprise, and the industry itself by storm. Since becoming the Managing Director of the lender, the game-changer has spearheaded several growth initiatives which have placed the bank on upward trajectory.

The Bank has invested significantly in technology with copiously integrated service models enabling customers enjoy banking services through a wide range of channels.

From evolving technologies to changing customer expectations to new regulatory demands – it has never been more important for banks to come up with the right strategies for digital transformation and innovation; the bolstered Ohiwerei led team nonetheless made this a reality at Keystone Bank. This entailed initiating partnership processes with foremost technology-enabled concerns to drive its digital revolution.

Keystone Bank’s ‘Cheque Deposit’ feature in its state of the art mobile banking application, ‘Keystone Mobile App’, further describes Ohiwerei’s vision to position Keystone Bank as a technology and service-driven commercial bank offering convenient and reliable solutions to its customers. The feature which is again the first in the  Nigerian banking sector, enables customers to deposit cheques into accounts from anywhere and at any time on their mobile phones.

Undoubtedly, Ohiwerei’s achievements at Keystone Bank have not gone unnoticed. Accolades have streamed in from all spheres in praise of a man who has done what many people only dream of.

He clinched the Best Banking CEO Award 2018 at the prestigious European Global Banking & Finance Awards in London in July 2018 for his exceptional achievements over the last year. This is an inspiration for business and government leaders working to raise Africa’s investment profile. The judging panel of the award considered excellent leadership skills, enhanced organizational image and innovation. Keystone Bank also emerged ‘Africa’s Most Innovative Bank of the Year, 2018’ at the awards event.

The bank also shone brightly at the International Banker Awards, 2018 as it emerged winner in two categories beating other nominees and carting away the prize for “Africa’s Best Customer Service Provider” and “Nigeria’s Most Innovative Retail Bank of the year, 2018”. The International Banker Awards is an annual event organized by the renowned International Banker financial magazine, one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative analysis on finance, international banking, and world affairs.

Obeahon Ohiwerei began his professional banking career with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in 1991, and his exceptional performance saw him rise to the position of manager within six years. He later joined Standard Trust Bank (now UBA Plc) where he was appointed the Pioneer Group Head, Consumer Banking in 1998. He resigned in 2002 as General Manager in charge of Lagos and West to join Pacific Bank Limited (then on Central Bank of Nigeria’s holding action) as Managing Director. He repositioned the bank with his new team within 15 months and moved on to take up a new appointment as the pioneer Managing Director of Standard Trust Bank Ghana (now UBA Ghana).

He was  Group Executive Director with Access Bank Plc for seven years, and a director in three of Access Bank’s offshore subsidiaries as well as FITC, Lagos.

Not resting on his oars, the seasoned banker in a recent interview said he would love to leave with a sense of satisfaction that he delivered on the mandate of the investors by making Keystone a Tier-1 bank.

Dr Ohiwerei who describes himself as being audacious to a fault says  I challenge my colleagues to pursue audacious goals believing they can achieve them. There is no limit to what you can achieve as long as you believe in yourself and drive your vision strategically. Personally, I set goals for myself every five years and often achieve them within three years.

“While I do not micro-manage people, I am by nature excited by the challenge of execution and that makes it easy for me to engage hands-on with them in working through any challenges that may arise along the way,”

“I want to leave behind a tested and proven team of passionate and highly motivated people that refuse to see any barriers to what they can achieve; people that are able to compete shoulder-to-shoulder/head to head with any leading bank in the industry.

“At the end of my tenure, the recurrent customer feedback should be ‘my bankers are highly professional solution providers, responsive and always within reach.’” He concluded.

As Dale Carnegie puts it, “You never achieve success unless you like what you are doing,” Dr. Ohiwerei’s bold innovations at Keystone Bank are borne out of his passion to succeed in his every endeavor.

 

– Adeniyi, a financial analyst, wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.

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Again, Ecobank Manager steals customers N411m

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Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Tuesday ordered the remand of Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike, a manager with the Ecobank Plc, for allegedly defrauded the bank’s customers to the tune of N411 million.

The defendant was arraigned before Justice Ayotunde Faji, by the men of Zone 2, of Nigeria Police Command, Onikan, Lagos, on a three count-charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretence, false representation and fraud.

The police in the charge marked FHC/L/56c/2019, alleged that the  Ecobank manager between in 2016 and 2017, fraudulently obtained the sum of about N150 million from one Mr. Okafor Ikenna Kelvin a customer with Account number 0533010936, under the false pretence of buying him Federal Government Treasury Bill in his Bank.

He was also alleged to forged the bank customer’s Signature, Picture, Letter of Instruction to which he used in opening another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin with account number: 5333063028.

The police also alleged that the bank manager without the consent of the bank, fraudulently converted the sum of N411 million belonging to the bank to his personal use.

The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Daniel Apochi, are contrary to Section 1 (1) (a), 15(1)(2) and 15(2)of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud related Offence Act No. 14 of 2006, and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

The offence is also contrary to and punishable under section 1(2)(2) of the miscellaneous Act. Cap. M17, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following his plea of not guilty, the prosecutor urges the court to remand him prison custody pending trial.

Justice Faji ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody, while adjourned till March 8, for trial.

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FirstBank partners Azuri Technologies to expand access to solar power

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, last Thursday signed a partnership with the Azuri Technologies to provide solar energy solution for the low-income areas.

The Deputy Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, said in Lagos that the partnership was aimed at proffering solutions to one of the major challenges facing the country today.

Shobo, represented by Tunde Owolabi, the Bank’s Group Executive, Retail Banking Group, Lagos & West, said that the focus is delivering power to millions of Nigerians; while at the same time enabling access to financial services in rural and low-income areas.

According to him, financial inclusion is a priority to FirstBank. “This is why we are excited about this partnership; because our customers will be able to access a wide range of services that address the real problem of access to power.

”This partnership with Azuri Technologies is one out of several of FirstBank’s partnerships. We have a track record of partnering with individuals and institutions to help meet the needs of our customers (children, women, youth, SMEs) and promote sustainable development in our host communities. Our partnerships cut across the Arts, Sports, Education, Health, among others; FirstBank has been at the forefront in ensuring ease of banking and convenience for its customers.

”Our Agent Banking Network (Firstmonie Agent) and digital banking offerings like Chat Banking on Whatsapp, FirstMobile app, Firstonline, and USSD banking, are some of the channels we have put in place to make this happen. We are therefore, very excited about the FirstBank-Azuri partnership and the positive boost it aims to bring to the nation’s economy through inclusive services.”

”Indeed, this is part of FirstBank’s 125 year-long passion for partnerships that are woven into the fabric of society,” he said.

Also, Mr Simon Bransfield-Garth, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Azuri Technologies, said that the company “is a leader in pay-as-you-go solar technology”.

Bransfield-Garth said: “Azuri brings affordable, modern consumer goods and services to the millions in sub-Saharan Africa without access to conventional power.

”Of the one billion people who lack access to electricity around the world, over 600 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. Pay-as-you-go solar power is connecting off-grid households to the modern digital world. From home lighting to satellite TV, Azuri-designed solutions deliver world class performance at an affordable price for customers who live away from mains power.”

”Azuri’s vision is to create a level playing field where all consumers can access and benefit from the digital economy, wherever they live” he concluded.

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