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Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s most innovative banking service provider has taken a bold step to revolutionalise the banking sector with the introduction of an advanced intelligent digital experience known as Octopus.

The solution which is full-fledged digital bank, has been described by financial technology experts as a game-changing innovation that is poised to connect all your bank accounts with your Debit Card details or account holder information.

Octopus by Heritage Bank represents an omni-channel multi-platform experience squarely targeted at the customers of tomorrow; young, smart, professional, tech savvy pioneers of the new digital economy. Bank agnostic, Octopus will provide all customers of any Nigerian Bank the opportunity to access a platform that consolidates and connects all their Bank accounts delivering convenience and ease of access on an innovative platform and digital community

It is designed to deliver omni-channel user experience across multiple devices; where most of customer’s daily city activities (banking, cinemas, stock markets, social interactions, churches, universities, meetings, restaurants, utility [e.g. DSTV, PHCN], fans clubs, associations and any other communities) have been digitized and consolidated.

It serves as a single window into several players of the same industry and it is embedded in the same social media platforms where people are such as Facebook and Telegram.

Announcing the launch of Octopus, the Managing Director of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo described this initiative “as a truly intelligent adventure that does everything differently. According to him, Octopus is an intelligent digital experience that combines digital transactions and a community lifestyle that empowers customers with the power to build their world and perform digital transactions how they want.”

He further added that Octopus would be available across all major platforms, including the revolutionary Octopus Bot on the Telegram platform, Facebook as well as Octopus Apps on the Google Play store (for Android) and Apple store (for iOS), which could be used by non-Heritage Bank’s customers.

All the information customers would need to begin to enjoy the Octopus service is available on www.octopus.ng

The platform owes numerous benefits to the users, thereby enable small businesses key into electronic payment system easily, efficient collections, social integration, retention strategy, bills paymentmobile virtual top-upfunds transferbalance enquirymovie show time, news.

Other benefits involve, engage customers, send messages, aadvertiseauto reminders for due payments, sell productsvisible to millionsautomatic product recommendation, create any kind of community and engage them freely.

Some of the transaction types including both domestic and Intra-Africa, the transaction channels are mobile devices, tablets and desktops, whilst the acquiring platforms are Mobile App, mobile USSD-based App and internet banking.

BUSINESS

UBA Earnings Hits N494bn, Records Significant Asset Growth, Driven By Market Share Gains Across Africa

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The Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa Plc has announced its Audited 2018 Financial Results with impressive growths achieved across major financial lines.

According to the 2018 financials filed at the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Tuesday, the Africa’s global bank’s gross earnings grew by 7.0 percent to N494.0 billion, compared to N461.6 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017. The Bank’s total assets also grew significantly by 19.7 percent to an unprecedented N4.9 trillion for the year under review.

These results, according to financial analysts largely demonstrates the benefits of the Group’s Pan-African footprints with continued growth in market share in key countries of operation across Africa. The contributions of ex-Nigeria subsidiaries at 40 percent, again confirms the strong footing of the Group’s franchise in Africa.

Despite the challenging business environments in Nigeria and across key markets in Africa, the Bank’s Profit Before Tax was quite impressive at N106.8 billion, a 2.4 percent growth, compared to N104.2 billion in 2017 financial year. In same vein, the Profit After Tax rose by 1.4 percent to N78.6 billion, compared to N77.5 billion recorded in 2017. Due to lower foreign exchange trading income, Operating Expenses grew by 4.1 percent to N197.3 billion, compared to N189.7 billion in 2017

Reflecting the modest appetite of the Bank in the year under review as well as impact of IFRS 9 implementation, net loans recorded a prudent 3.9 percent growth to N1.72 trillion while Customer Deposits increased by a remarkable 22.5 percent to N3.3 trillion, compared to N2.7 trillion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017, reflecting increased customer confidence and enhanced service channels. Furthermore, Shareholders’ Funds decreased marginally by 4.8 percent to N502.6 billion, reflecting the impact of International Financial Reporting Standards 9 (IFRS 9) implementation.

Commenting on the result, the Group Managing Director/CEO, Kennedy Uzoka noted that the year 2018 was important for the Group, as it gained further market share in many countries of operation. More so, the CEO was excited at strategic achievements made in the year, including the start of wholesale banking operations in London, as it seeks to leverage the Group’s unique network across Africa. UBA also opened its 20th African operation.

“Defying the relatively weak economic growth in Africa, earnings were positive and we grew our balance sheet by 20 percent, driven by the 23 percent growth in our deposit funding. In a period of economic uncertainty, we have focused on retail deposit mobilization, with exciting results. We recorded a 48 percent year-on-year growth in retail deposits and improved our CASA ratio to 77 percent, optimizing our funding mix, which will enhance our net interest margin (NIM), over the medium term,” Uzoka said.

Uzoka remained confident that the Bank’s performance would be even stronger in the years ahead and shareholders would enjoy even greater dividends, as the Group is well positioned to take advantage of imminent fiscal reforms across many economies in Africa, a positive outlook which should stimulate new opportunities in infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and resource sectors.

He continued: “Our operations in the United Kingdom now offer end-to-end trade, treasury, structured finance, wholesale deposit taking and ancillary services. With this development, we are better positioned to fulfill our aspiration of deepening trade and capital flows between Europe and Africa. We are also pleased with the market acceptance of our new operation in Mali”.

“Having said this, I am excited by the profitability of our ex-Nigeria subsidiaries, which now contributes an impressive 40 percent earnings to the Group. At the moment, our Nigerian business is benefiting from our product and operational focus, gaining market share – most importantly, the increasing penetration of our retail offerings is reassuring, as this fundamental progress aligns with our strategy of focusing on sustainable growth”.

“With great optimism, we look forward to a more rewarding 2019 for our shareholders, as we further sweat our resources and optimize productivity towards delivering superior returns,” he concluded.

Also speaking on the performance, the Group CFO, Ugo Nwaghodoh said that the improving mix of the Bank’s funding base and asset pricing, reinforce a positive outlook on Net Interest Margin(NIM) and broader balance sheet efficiency.

“Whilst considerable investment in people, digital transformation and channel enhancement masked cost efficiency gains within the year, with cost-to-income ratio at 64 percent, we are convinced that our diligent execution of new initiatives will ensure the reduction of Cost to Income Ratio(CIR) towards our medium-term target. Our balance sheet is being positioned to take full advantage of market swings and our strong 25 percent capital adequacy ratio provides headroom for growth, even under a BASEL III scenario. As it stands, UBA has started the year on a good note and should sustain the momentum, as we work towards improving our Return on Average Equity (RoAE),” Nwaghodoh said.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading pan-African financial services group, operating in 20 African countries, as well as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and with presence in France.

UBA was incorporated in Nigeria as a limited liability company after taking over the assets of the British and French Bank Limited who had been operating in Nigeria since 1949. The United Bank for Africa merged with Standard Trust Bank in 2005 and from a single country operation founded in 1949 in Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy – UBA has become one of the leading providers of banking and other financial services on the African continent. The Bank which was awarded the Best Digital Bank in Africa by the Euromoney awards in 2018, provides services to over 17 million customers globally, through one of the most diverse service channels in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 1,000 branches and customer touch points and robust online and mobile banking platforms.

The shares of UBA are publicly traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Bank has a well-diversified shareholder base, which includes foreign and local institutional investors, as well as individual shareholders.

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BUSINESS

Access Bank Denies Any Wrongdoing In Sale Of Customer’s Goods [Letter Attached]

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Access Bank Plc has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the alleged sale of a customer’s goods worth N2.5billion.

The Police Special Fraud Unit in Lagos had charged Access Bank Plc, its managing director and chief executive officer, Herbert Wigwe, and others with 21 counts of conspiracy, fraudulent disposal of trust property, fraudulent conversion, stealing and false representation before an Ogun State High Court.

Access Bank Plc , Mr Wigwe, Alawode Oluseye and Bayo Adesina are accused of conspiring and stealing 23,754.413 metric tonnes of steel billets valued at ₦2.5 billion belonging to BMCE Bank International Plc.

But in a notice to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), on Monday, Access Bank however denied the allegations stressing that at no time did the bank or any of its executives or officers commit any of the alleged offences.

The statement reads:

“In 2015, Access Bank availed credit facilities to Metal Africa Steel Products Limited, to finance the importation of billets and machinery for the expansion of its factory. Consequent upon the grant of the facilities, the bank opened Form M and Letters of Credit (“LC”) to facilitate the importation of the billets for which the shipping documents were consigned to the bank. The facilities were secured by a Debenture Trust Deed over the customer’s assets shared with other lenders.

“Upon arrival of the billets, the bank released the shipping documents to the customer to enable it clear the goods. The bank subsequently discovered that the customer had cleared the goods from the port without payment of appropriate customs duty.

“The bank, in line with its duty to protect its depositors’ funds, reported the alleged crime to SFU which obtained a court order to take over the customer’s business operations. Furthermore, the bank petitioned Interpol, which is presently taking steps to repatriate the suspects involved in the alleged fraud from India. Subsequently, the beneficiary banks (including the bank) under the Debenture Trust Deed, appointed a Receiver/Manager who took over the operations of the customer’s business and paid the appropriate customs duty on the billets.

“The Receiver/Manager subsequently obtained court order from the Federal High Court and sold the billets and distributed the proceeds amongst the beneficiary banks (including the bank).”

The lender further said in the statement that it was “aware that the petitioner also laid claims to the same billets following which there were attempts at settlement between the petitioner and the Receiver/Manager. The petitioner subsequently filed a complaint at SFU following the failure of settlement.

“Based on the foregoing, we were surprised to be served with the charges by the SFU alleging, amongst others, that the bank stole the billets and forged the shipping documents covering the billets.

“We hereby state that at no time did the bank or any of its executives or officers commit any of the alleged offences. The bank has continued to maintain the position that it financed the importation of the billets and that the Receiver/Manager appointed by the bank and a syndicate of other lenders had the right to sell the goods. We are aware that there are civil matters in court on the same subject.

“We are also aware that there are on-going settlement negotiations between the Receiver/Manager and the petitioner. Without prejudice to the settlement discussions and the civil matter, we reiterate that the Receiver/Manager appointed by the bank and a syndicate of other lenders acted within its powers to sell the billets.

“We wish to assure our stakeholders that the bank will continue to take all necessary steps to protect its depositor’s funds in line with its fiduciary duties as well as extant rules and regulations.” The statement concluded.

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BUSINESS

NOVA Merchant Bank Declares N1.15bn In Profit After Tax, Continues To Focus On Scaling Its Business

Gbemileke Ajayi

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NOVA Merchant Bank Limited has declared a profit after tax of N1.15 billion for the year ended 31st of December 2018, a significant increase from N510.6 million achieved in 2017, marking a 125% increase. The result is achieved as it begins to reap the benefits of its investments in its operations, technology and people.

The impressive result demonstrates the Bank’s growth trajectory which is expected to accelerate as it scales its business and grows its client base.

NOVA achieved strong growth across all parameters. The Bank recorded a 54.10% growth in gross earnings from N1.22bn in 2017 to N1.88bn. The bank further grew the total assets by 38.89% from N18bn to N25bn between 2017 and 2018.

This impressive performance marks a very successful year for the newly licensed merchant bank which recently deployed a state of the art and fully digital core banking application. The Bank also recorded remarkable growth in customer acquisition and in line with its objective to be the employer of choice, promoted about a third of its workforce.

Anya Duroha, the MD/CEO, commented “Our stellar results are a culmination of the hardwork, commitment, resilience, discipline and resourcefulness of all our employees. We have been able to drive strong customer acquisition and deploy leading edge technology whilst optimising our costs. We will continue to focus on growing our business, providing solutions tailored to our clients’ needs, building a high performance culture, motivating our employees and creating sustainable value for our shareholders”.

Remarking on the results, Phillips Oduoza, Chairman of NOVA Merchant Bank said “We have been able to build a strong foundation for the success of the Bank and approach the future with confidence and optimism in our business model, value proposition, clients and employees. We remain committed to the implementation of our over-arching philosophy of ‘New Thinking, New Opportunities’ to create value for all our stakeholders.”

The Bank will continue to strive to deliver profitable, responsible and sustainable growth. It remains dedicated to its core values of Uniqueness, Passion, Leadership, Integrity, Fairness and Teamwork (UPLIFT) as it believes these ethos will enable it to surpass the expectations of its clients and stakeholders.

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