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Heritage Bank calls for increased govt, banks’ support in Agriculture sector

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Heritage Bank Plc has called on government at all levels and deposit money banks to increase supports in agriculture, as it is the most resilient and important sector of Nigerian economy, despite underwhelming investment in the sector.

The Executive Director of the bank, Jude Monye stated this while delivering a paper, titled, “Bank Experience in Lending to the Real Sector (Agric) of the Economy,” at the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) 2018 Chief Risk Officers Forum Retreat, in Lagos, yesterday.

He disclosed that increased focus on the agriculture sector would contribute to the Job creation objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), as its labour intensive process across the value chain has the potential of creating multiple jobs, create wealth, and increase the sector’s contribution to GDP and foreign exchange earnings

Meanwhile, Monye stressed that the under-performance of the sector is closely tied; amongst other factors; to poor credit access from banks.

On the part of government, he decried that Nigeria’s Agricultural research institutes that are established to drive the sector’s business were underfunded compared to India’s.

“The 2018 budget allocates N54bn and N149bn (US$490m) to the agriculture and rural development ministry for recurrent and capital spending respectively.

“Agricultural research institutes have received an average of N28bn (US$90m) annually over the past five years. The comparable figure for India, with six times the population, is closer to US$2bn,” he stated.

He further noted that the economic recovery and growth plan of the government is heavy on Agriculture and MSMEs as key drivers of the economic diversification plan.

“Successful implementation of the Government’s Recovery Plan provides significant opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors and financiers – particularly in the Agro-allied Sector,” Monye affirmed.

The Executive Director added that investments in infrastructure (energy and transportation) are supportive of the Agric-led growth.

He explained that to explore options for de-risking and unlocking bank lending to the Agric sector so as to develop and position the sector for increased contribution to the Nigeria’s GDP and revenues, there is need to Continue regulatory driven intervention funds to increase access to credit at single digit rates and long tenors, Improve knowledge of Banks and Bankers on Agric finance and Agricultural Risk Management through focused capacity building and many others.

Speaking at retreat with theme, “Achieving Economic Diversification for Nigeria via the De-Risking of Lending to the Nigerian Non-oil Sectors, the MD/CEO of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abduhameed, explained that the value chain financing is one of the major problem facing Nigerian agricultural sector.

But, he pointed out that NIRSAL does this by ‘de-risking’ the agricultural financing value chain, building long-term capabilities and institutionalizing agricultural lending through risk sharing with banks, technical capacity building as well as the provision of incentives to encourage bank lending.

According to him, Nigeria is endowed with all the natural resources to thrive in agriculture, but the sector lacks the capital with which to maximally meet the opportunities.

He stated that NIRSAL aims to increase deposit money banks’ lending and other private investment.

Abduhameed disclosed that proposal has been put before the Central Bank of Nigeria for NIRSAL to be recognised as collateral instrument as well as flow instrument, as this would fast track the de-risking of the value chain financing.

Group ED/Agribusiness TGI Group, Farouk Gumel, as one of the panellists, stressed the need to shed more light on banking agriculture rather than de-risking.

He also canvassed for more investments in infrastructure and addressing eco-climate system in the country.

 

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GTBank Builds Nigeria’s First Digital Play Centre for Children

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Banks only build branches, or so the story goes. Except for Guaranty Trust Bank Plc; the foremost African financial institution, which has been at the forefront of several innovative products and services, recently completed and opened the first digital playground for children in Nigeria.

Located in Lekki, Lagos State, the GTBank Play Centre is equipped with a wide range of interactive games that will give kids a fun and immersive digital experience whilst aiding their mental and intellectual development. Open from 10am to 3pm on Weekdays, and 10am to 1pm on Saturdays, some of the features of the Play Centre include the Sketch Town, where kids can design cars, launch rockets, and bring all their sketches to life. At the playground, children can also use the wide range of bricks available to build whatever excites their curiosity and also express themselves creatively by scribbling, writing and drawing on a digital chalkboard.

GTBank is renowned for designing innovative and personalized products and services that are tailored to customers’ unique needs and which fit seamlessly with their lifestyles. Recently, the Bank launched Habari, a digital platform that gives customers unlimited access to local and international music, and at the same time, allows them to shop online, split bills with friends and take care of their everyday needs, in one place. Habari, like the GTBank Play Centre, is the first of its kind in Nigeria, reflecting the Bank’s digital drive as well as its focus on creating unique experiences for all segments of its customer base.

Commenting on the launch of the Play Centre, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, Mr Segun Agbaje said; “How and where children play contributes significantly to their cognitive and intellectual development, helping them build better communication and problem-solving skills. Our new Play Centre will give children a tension-free space to build these critical developmental skills, expose them to new and emerging digital technologies, and, most importantly, give them a wonderful time out.”

He further stated that “At GTBank we are passionate about building the bank of the future, and for us, this means constantly leveraging the best of technology to create amazing digital experiences for all of our customers, in a way that adds real value to their lives.”

Guaranty Trust Bank is one of the best run African financial institutions and serves as a role model within the financial service industry due to its bias for world-class corporate governance standards, excellent service quality, and innovation. The Bank is also renowned for driving youth empowerment initiatives alongside its business, as seen with the GTCrea8 Account package, which doubles up as a platform for empowering young undergraduates with the resources and networking that they need to develop their skills and talents and build capacity in their careers of choice.

 

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Access & Diamond get final approval for merger

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Nigeria News

 

Access Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc have gotten final merger approvals from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The two financial institutions, in separate corporate disclosures issued on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) at the weekend, confirmed that the approvals have been secured.

“Access Bank Plc is pleased to announce that the bank has received the final approval of both the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to the proposed scheme of merger between the bank and Diamond Bank Plc,” a statement by Access Bank disclosed.

“The scheme is subject to judicial sanction by the Federal High Court. We will provide further update to the market upon receipt of court sanction of the scheme.”

 

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Zenith Bank’s Improved PBT of N232Billion Excites Shareholders, with Dividend Offer of N2.80 Per Share

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In a clear show of its resilience and strong market share, Zenith Bank has announced an impressive result for the year ended December 31, 2018 with profit before tax (PBT) rising to N232 billion for the 12 months ended December 31, 2018.

Also, in demonstration of its commitment to its shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend pay-out of N2.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to N2.80 per share, representing a yield of 11.2 per cent.

According to the bank’s audited financial results for the 2018 financial year released in Lagos on Tuesday, this represents an increase of 16.6 percent over the N199 billion recorded for the same period in 2017. It is the highest so far published by any bank in the Nigerian Banking Industry in the current reporting period. Also, the results showed that profit after tax (PAT) witnessed an impressive growth of 11 per cent year-on-year to N193 billion from N174 billion.

This record profit before tax (PBT) was achieved through the Group’s optimisation of its cost of funds, cost-to-income ratio and cost of risk, ensuring that earnings per share strengthened by 11% to ₦6.15.

Despite the challenging macro-environment, the Group mitigated the knock-on effects through growth of its net interest income and operating income by 15% and 8% respectively as it was able to ensure improved cost efficiencies across the business. This focus on cost efficiencies is yielding tangible benefits as the Group recorded its lowest ever cost-to-income ratio at 49.3% from 52.8% in 2017.

The bank’s balance sheet remains shockproof as loan to deposit ratio, liquidity ratio and capital adequacy ratio were 44.2%, 72.0% and 25.0% respectively and all above the regulatory threshold.

Our risk-centric approach also ensured that cost of risk reduced significantly by 79% from 4.3% in the prior year to 0.9% in 2018. This was reflected through the drop-off in impairment charges by 81% (₦80 billion) compared to 2017, re-affirming the Group’s enhanced asset quality. In the same breadth, coverage ratio increased by 34.2% from 143.4% to 192.4% over the same period, reflecting a prudent disposition to credit risk management. Cost of funds also moved in the positive direction, declining by 41% from 5.2% in 2017 to 3.1% for the year, supported by a 33% decrease in interest expense (₦72 billion) over the same period, demonstrating a robust treasury and liquidity management.

Customer deposits grew by 7% led by an increase of ₦109 billion in savings and an increase of N122bn in current accounts providing it with a platform to rebalance its deposits mix. In 2018, expensively purchased deposits were foregone in favour of cheaper and more stable deposits resulting in a reduction of expensive and shorter dated deposits by ₦110 billion. On the asset front, this increased by 6% to close the year at ₦6 trillion.

The Group’s efforts to deepen its roots in the retail segment have started yielding benefits. This has resulted in a remarkable increase in the volume of transactions across various electronic platforms as well as significant customer acquisitions. This growth in transactions on its digital channels continues to support its retail push as fees from e-products increased by 44% over 2017 with retail deposit balances also growing by 25%.
Management’s outlook is positive for 2019, supported by a fairly stable inflation rate, converging foreign exchange market and near target oil production. The Group will 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.

Consistent with this superlative performance and in recognition of its track record of excellent performance,the bank was recently ranked as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in 2018 by The Banker Magazine. In similar fashion, Zenith Bank was recognized as the Best Corporate Governance Bank in Nigeria by The World Finance for the sixth time just as Ethical Boardroom, a Europe based Boardroom watchdog reaffirmed this recognition by naming the bank as the Best Bank in Corporate Governance in 2018.Recognition has also come the way of the bank as it was recently named as the Best Institution in Sustainability Reporting in Africa 2018 (SERAS Awards) and the Bank of the Year 2018 (BusinessDay).

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