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FirstBank: A triumphant Return to the Nigerian Banking Frontline

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FirstBank: A triumphant Return to the Nigerian Banking Frontline

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The story of Corporate Nigeria in 2022, cannot be complete without a chapter on the incredible performance of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, which saw the hitherto encumbered bank now returning to the top of the ladder of the Nigerian banking industry, amid a harvest of international laurels, writes Festus Akanbi

 

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By December this year, Nigerian quoted companies will begin to upload their full year 2022 results in compliance with the dictates of the principle of disclosures to regulators, investors and customers as enshrined in the act of Corporate Governance.

 

 

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While the waiting game for the release of the more detailed full-year results continues, analysts said that bookmakers can only assess the current level of profitability, efficiency and recovery of these companies based on their half-year reports which began to hit the various media platforms from July this year.

 

For FirstBank, a subsidiary of the behemoth FBN Holdings Plc, the 2022 operation year has been characterised by a superlative performance which analysts believed signposts the confirmation of the bank’s return to the frontline of the Nigerian banking industry following its 2021 equally stellar performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From its half-year 2022 reports, which show a remarkable turnaround, and the ability of the management of the bank not only to resolve old corporate governance issues but to also return the bank to the path of profitability, it has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that FirstBank has freed itself from old encumbrances and it is back to its old trajectory of breaking boundaries and being a pacesetter in the Nigerian banking industry.

 

For instance, analysts who believed that FirstBank’s current excellent performance is a reaffirmation of the new era of a return to greater and better times ahead are quick to point to the bank’s half-year 2022 results which proved the solidity of the financial institution and confirmed that it is back in form as a formidable industry leader.

 

 

 

 

 

Reinforcing Quantum Profitability Leap Agenda

For instance, in its half-year 2022 scorecard, FirstBank recorded a 22.6 per cent year-on-year growth in gross earnings to N338.5 billion while net interest income was up 49.3 per cent year-on-year to N152.9 billion respectively.”

The bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive, Adesola Adeduntan who gave this figure disclosed that “Amidst a challenging operating and dynamic regulatory environment in the half year 2022, the commercial banking group remained focused on executing key initiatives to position the group for improved profitability in the full year 2022. Our half-year results further reinforced our drive towards our ‘Quantum Profitability Leap’ agenda.”

 

 

 

 

 

Adeduntan said, “On the back of the impressive growth recorded in our top line, our profit before tax recorded a strong growth of 40.0 per cent year on year to N60.0 billion, whilst profit after tax also grew by 42.3 per cent year on year to N53.3 billion as the bank continues to reap the dividends of the successful restructuring of our balance sheet and revamping of our risk management architecture.”

“We continue to record progress in driving down our non-performing loan ratio which now stands at 5.4 per cent at the end of H1 and we are on target to bring it within the regulatory limit of 5 percent by end of full-year 2022.”

 

 

 

 

Awards and Recognitions: FirstBank’s Leading the Pack

In terms of recognition, there is no doubt that the ongoing transformation in FirstBank is globally recognised when one considers the harvests of awards and recognitions that are already pouring in for the bank.

 

Analysts said the awards and recognitions, which include those from the Fitch Ratings and The Banker awards and Euromoney rankings are testimonials of FirstBank’s consistent performance.

 

 

 

 

Fitch Rerating

Analysts maintained that the current Fitch rerating of FirstBank aligns with ratings of other global agencies (such as S&P: B- with a stable outlook; Moodys: B2 with stable outlook) – a confirmation of what industry peers already acknowledge – back to leading the pack.

 

On September 16, 2022, Fitch Ratings announced the upgrade of FBN Holdings Plc’s (FBNH) and First Bank of Nigeria Ltd’s (FBN) Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) to ‘B’ from ‘B-‘, and according to the rating agency, the Outlooks are Stable. Fitch has also upgraded their Viability Ratings (VR) to ‘b’ from ‘b-‘.

 

 

 

 

 

It explained that the upgrade of the Long-Term IDRs follows that of the VRs, reflecting that corporate governance irregularities publicly raised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in April 2021, including two longstanding related-party exposures, have largely been addressed and therefore risks to capitalisation have receded, helped by strong internal capital generation since the irregularities were raised.

 

Governance Issues Laid to Rest

Following its monitoring of the Bank’s corporate Banking endeavours within the last year, the rating agency gave FirstBank a clean bill of health saying the bank’s governance irregularities have been addressed and according to the management of the bank, “the two related-party exposures highlighted by the CBN, which included equity and credit exposures to two companies of whom FBNH’s previous chairman was also chairman, have largely been disposed of and repaid. Fitch understands from management that FBNH and FBN have not been subject to penalties about irregularities raised by the CBN in April 2021 and no further irregularities have been raised.”

It also attests to the solidity of the bank, affirming that FBN is the third-largest bank in Nigeria, representing 11% of domestic banking-system assets at the end of 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

Another reason for the high rating is the fact that the bank’s improved asset quality since FirstBank’s impaired loans (Stage 3 loans under IFRS 9) ratio has declined significantly.

FirstBank also boasts of a Stable Funding Profile. For instance, FBN’s customer deposit base (76% of total funding at end-1H22) comprises a high share of retail deposits (64% at end-2021) and current and savings accounts (81% at end-1H22), supporting funding stability and a low-cost of funding. Depositor concentration is fairly low. Liquidity coverage is comfortable in local and foreign currencies.

 

 

 

 

 

Bankers Magazine: FirstBank Best Performing in Nigeria

It is also not a coincidence that FirstBank was rated first among its peers in Nigeria by Bankers Magazine, a publication of the Financial Times.

The Top 100 African Bank Rankings 2022 recently released by The Banker shows FirstBank leading the Nigerian table in four areas, the highest achieved by any Nigerian bank; only FirstBank leads in four areas. The rankings, based on the end of year 31 December 2021 audited financials of all banks in the Top 100, reveal FirstBank’s ranking as number one in Nigeria in terms of Overall Performance, Profitability, Efficiency and Return on Risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The magazine, which explained that its Top 100 African Banks ranking for 2022 demonstrates a broad return to stability by African banks after a torrid year for the continent’s largest lenders placed FirstBank among other banks in Nigeria because it happened to be the only bank that led in four areas.

First Bank of Nigeria Limited leads its peers in fifth place overall, displacing Guaranty Trust Bank, now in seventh place. Access Bank ranks in the eighth position, with Zenith Bank in 10th place.

 

 

 

 

 

Euromoney Rankings: FirstBank, Market Leader

In addition, in 2022, Euromoney Market Leaders, an independent global assessment of the leading financial service providers conducted by Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc crowned FirstBank as a market leader. The bank was rated as a tier one bank in the areas of corporate and social responsibility (CSR).

 

Not only that, but FirstBank also emerged as a market leader among the tier-one banks in the area of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).

 

 

 

 

 

In the area of corporate banking and digital solution, FirstBank was highly regarded while it was crowned as a notable player in SME Banking for the period under review.

 

FirstBank was named “Best Bank Brand in Nigeria” for six years in a row – 2011 to 2016 – by The Banker magazine of the Financial Times Group; it was awarded “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” in the EMEA Finance African Banking Awards 2014; it has clinched the “Best Bank in Nigeria” award by Global Finance Magazine 15 times and the “Best Private Bank in Nigeria” by World Finance Magazine seven times. Some other recent awards received by the Bank are “Best Banking Brand Nigeria, 2019” by Global Brands Magazine; “Best Mobile Banking App – Nigeria, 2019” by Global Business Outlook and “Best Financial Inclusion Program – Nigeria, 2019 by International Investor.

 

 

 

 

 

In the words of FirstBank’s CEO, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, ‘what all these current ratings and recognitions demonstrate is that FirstBank is strongly back on course! Knowing this is only the beginning of a new era of return to the trailblazing position and that better times lie ahead we encourage our customers and other stakeholders to keep believing and keep standing by us.’

 

Banking on Robust Customer Service Network

Through the last 128 years of its operations, FirstBank has played a leading role in utilising its robust customer service network and digital banking architecture to support its customers – cutting across diverse cultures, tribes and races beyond the shores of Nigeria – in meeting their individual and business needs.

 

First Bank of Nigeria Limited operates as a parent company, with the subsidiaries FBNBank in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Senegal; FBN Bank UK Limited in the United Kingdom with a branch in Paris; First Bank Representative Office in Beijing to capture trade-related business between geographies. FirstBank also operates First Pension Custodian Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s foremost pension custodian. The teeming customers of the First Bank Group are serviced from a network of over 700 business locations across Africa.

 

 

 

 

Culled from ThisDay Newaspaper

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AltBank, Sterling One Foundation, Lagos Foodbank combat hunger, champion education

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AltBank, Sterling One Foundation, Lagos Foodbank combat hunger, champion education

AltBank, Sterling One Foundation, Lagos Foodbank combat hunger, champion education

 

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Sahara Weekly Reports That The Alternative Bank Limited (AltBank) has announced a strategic collaboration with FoodBank and Sterling One Foundation to raise approximately N20 million in support of hunger alleviation and educational initiatives. This initiative aligns with the theme of the African Union Summit 2024, “Educate and Skill Africa for the 21st Century.”

 

 

 

 

AltBank, Sterling One Foundation, Lagos Foodbank combat hunger, champion education

 

 

 

 

 

Hassan Yusuf, the Managing Director of The Alternative Bank, unveiled this plan in a press release, highlighting the forthcoming AltWalk event as a pivotal fundraising platform.

 

“Through this initiative, we aim to mobilize contributions from both internal and external stakeholders, reaffirming our commitment to education and societal welfare,” stated Hassan.

 

The fundraising campaign aims to secure N20 million, with the proceeds serving dual purposes: providing meals for underserved communities and orphanages through the Lagos FoodBank initiative and delivering quality educational support via Sterling One Foundation.

 

This campaign targets individuals, families, businesses, and organizations committed to ending hunger, improving education, fostering healthy living, and positively impacting society. Prospective donors are encouraged to contribute through https://altbank.ng/walk/.

 

Stakeholder participation and donations are poised to substantially impact critical social issues, including hunger reduction, enhanced education, and healthier lifestyles.

 

Yusuf emphasized AltBank’s dedication to empowering customers through innovative solutions in health, food security, and education, positioning them for success in the 21st century. He stressed that education is central to the bank’s mission of bolstering the economy and enhancing financial well-being across society.

 

AltBank, Nigeria’s most recent entrant into the financial services sector, made a grand entrance with simultaneous launch events in Lagos, Abuja, and Kano, marking the country’s first multi-city brand launch. As the ethical banking arm of Sterling Financial Holdings, The Alternative Bank originated in 2014 as Sterling Alternative Finance under Sterling Bank Plc’s non-interest banking license. It has since evolved into a prominent player in Nigeria’s non-interest banking sector.

 

 

 

About Lagos FoodBank

 

Lagos Food Bank is a non-profit, nutrition-focused initiative committed to fighting hunger, reducing food waste, and addressing malnutrition through targeted programs. Their initiatives aim to improve the nutrition and food intake of vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, lactating mothers, seniors, and impoverished families.

 

 

 

About Sterling One Foundation

 

The Sterling One Foundation catalyzes positive social impact across critical sectors of the Nigerian economy. Motivated by the distinct challenges faced by millions of Africans, the foundation aims to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), capitalize on the demographic dividend, and improve the standard of living for underserved communities. Through stakeholder-driven interventions, it focuses on employability, sustainability, wealth creation, socioeconomic development, and national progress.Inline image

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ZENITH BANK ACHIEVES HISTORIC MILESTONES IN 2023 WITH STELLAR TRIPLE-DIGIT TOPLINE AND BOTTOM-LINE GROWTH 

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ZENITH BANK ACHIEVES HISTORIC MILESTONES IN 2023 WITH STELLAR TRIPLE-DIGIT TOPLINE AND BOTTOM-LINE GROWTH 

ZENITH BANK ACHIEVES HISTORIC MILESTONES IN 2023 WITH STELLAR TRIPLE-DIGIT TOPLINE AND BOTTOM-LINE GROWTH 

 

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Zenith Bank Plc has announced its audited results for the year ended December 31, 2023, achieving a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings from NGN945.6 billion reported in 2022 to NGN2.132 trillion in 2023. According to the audited financial results for the 2023 financial year presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), this impressive triple-digit growth in gross earnings resulted in a Year-on-Year (YoY) increase of 180% in Profit Before Tax (PBT) from NGN284.7 billion in 2022 to NGN796 billion in 2023. Profit After Tax (PAT) also recorded triple-digit growth of 202% from NGN223.9 billion to NGN676.9 billion in the period ended December 31, 2023.

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The increase in gross earnings is primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income increased by 112% from NGN540 billion in 2022 to NGN1.1 trillion in 2023. Non-interest income grew by 141% from NGN381 billion to NGN918.9 billion in the same period. The increase in interest income is attributed to the growth in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, alongside the rise in the yield of other interest-bearing instruments over the year. Growth in non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and an increase in gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

The cost of funds grew from 1.9% in 2022 to 3.0% in 2023 due to the high interest rate environment while interest expense increased by 135% from NGN173.5 billion in 2022 to NGN408.5 billion in 2023. Notwithstanding the 32% growth in operating expenses in 2023, the Group’s cost-to-income ratio improved significantly from 54.4% in 2022 to 36.1% in 2023 due to improved top-line performance. Return on Average Equity (ROAE) increased by 118% from 16.8% in 2022 to 36.6% in 2023, underpinned by improved gross earnings, as the Group sought to deliver better shareholder returns. Return on Average Assets (ROAA) also grew by 95% from 2.1% to 4.1% in the same period.

The Group has continued to deepen its market leadership in key corporate and retail deposit segments as customer deposits increased by 69% from NGN9.0 trillion to NGN15.2 trillion in 2023. Its retail drive continues to yield dividends as retail deposits now constitute 46% of total deposits (compared to 44% in 2022) and grew by 77% from NGN3.97 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.04 trillion in 2023, also reinforcing increased customer confidence in the Zenith brand.

Total assets increased by 66% from NGN12.3 trillion in 2022 to NGN20.4 trillion in 2023, largely due to growth in total deposits and the revaluation of foreign currency deposits. Gross loans grew by 71% from NGN4.1 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.1 trillion in 2023 due to the revaluation of foreign currency loans and the growth in local currency risk assets. As a result of the disciplined and diligent approach to risk assets creation and management, the loan growth did not significantly impact the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratio, which increased marginally from 4.3% to 4.4% despite the heightened risk environment and challenging operating environment, an attestation to the Group’s resilience despite headwinds and a challenging macroeconomic environment. Also, the prudential ratios remain within regulatory thresholds, with the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) and liquidity ratio at 21.7% and 71.0%, respectively, at the close of 2023.

As a demonstration of its commitment to shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend payout of NGN3.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to NGN4.00 per share.

In 2024, the Group will complete the transition to a holding company structure, which is anticipated to position it advantageously for exploring emerging opportunities in the Fintech space while bolstering its digital and retail banking initiatives. Furthermore, the Group is undertaking urgent necessary actions to meet the new minimum NGN500 billion equity capital requirement to maintain its international authorisation within the timeframe stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This will strengthen its presence in key markets to continue positioning for sustainable growth and value addition for stakeholders.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, including being recognised as Best Bank in Nigeria, for the fourth time in five years, from 2020 to 2022 and in 2024, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; the Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria in the Euromoney Awards 2023, being listed in the World Finance Top 100 Global Companies in 2023; being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 14th consecutive year, in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023, in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022 and 2023; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for four successive years from 2020 to 2023, by the Ethical Boardroom; Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation in Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards.

Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021; Bank of the Year 2023 and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. Similarly, Zenith Bank was named Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.

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Wema records 196 percent profit before tax in 2023 financial report

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HACKAHOLICS DIGITAL SUMMIT 2023: WEMA BANK LAUNCHES AFRICA’S LARGEST GATHERING OF INNOVATORS, DISRUPTORS, REGULATORS, POLICYMAKERS, INVESTORS & CUSTOMERS IN THE DIGITAL SPACE

Wema records 196 percent profit before tax in 2023 financial report

Wema Bank has announced its full Year 2023 Audited financial statement, recording profit before tax growth of 196 per cent from ₦14.75bn to N43.59 billion.

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The bank also proposed a dividend per share of 50kobo; up from 30 kobo in 2022 and deposit growth of 60 per cent to ₦1,860.57bn from ₦1,165.93bn reported in FY 2022.

“Return on Equity (ROAE) of 39.28%, NPL of 4.31% and N40billion 1st tranche of Capital raise awaiting final regulatory approvals,” a statement from the bank said.

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Commenting on the results, the MD/CEO, Mr. Moruf Oseni said, “2023 showcased a revitalised Wema Bank as evidenced by the considerable improvements in our numbers. The performance is headlined by impressive improvements in Profit before Tax which grew strongly by 196%.”

He noted that the growth of Gross Earnings by 72%, Total Assets by 56% and earnings per share at 279.5 kobo shows the core improvements to the bank’s balance sheet.

“In addition, our cost to income ratio at 64.37% has witnessed significant improvement from the previous period.

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“We also completed our N40bn Capital raise exercise (results awaiting final verification by regulators). This exercise actively positioned us for the new capital licensing requirements of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Wema Bank will accelerate its capital management plans and ensure we embark on the journey to raise the required capital as quickly as possible.

“The Bank will be proposing a dividend per share of 50 kobo to its shareholders at the next Annual General Meeting; this is in line with the Bank’s capital conservation strategy and to ensure that it continues to provide returns to its shareholders in anticipation of additional capital raises scheduled for later this year.

“We are satisfied with the bank’s performance in the first year of the new leadership team, as we move in a strong growth trajectory. Our target remains clear, we want to become a Top-Tier Bank in the industry powered by Digital excellence, we have carved a niche for ourselves with ALAT as a Retail platform, but we are now positioning the enterprise as the Intelligent platform for all financial services.

“We have partnered with the Federal Government on upskilling Two Million MSMEs, provided engagement platforms for all NYSC members and are now implementing partnerships in Health, Education, Women empowerment and in the green economy.

“In the months ahead, we would be developing platforms and supporting initiatives that prioritise the needs of our customers, leveraging technology in solving problems across all sectors.”

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