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Relief is on the way for the estimated over 7 million passengers plying Lagos roads on a daily basis, as Heritage Investment Services Limited (HIS), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tuchi Technologies Nigeria Limited to provide affordable mass transit for commuters in Lagos metropolis, which Heritage Bank Plc is the banker to the project.

Besides HIS and Tuchi, other parties to the MoU are Solola & Akpana, legal advisers; Kedari Capital, financial advisers and Hedgestone Capital Partners Limited, one of the prospective investors in the project.

The affordable mass transit allows passengers to make an e-hailing in order to book for the Lagos State coloured buses in the Lagos metropolis within the state.

In a statement made available by the Divisional Head, Corporate Communications of the bank, Fela Ibidapo, said Heritage bank was focused on achieving its primary role of financial intermediation through intervention in the transportation sector, which will create jobs and bring about economic growth for the State.

According to him, this is a milestone achievement for the bank in supporting the commuting experience; challenges inherent in the sector and social well-being of more than 7million of Lagos residents who rely on public transport daily

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Lagos on Tuesday, Mr. Olusegun Akanji, a director of HIS said the company is an investment vehicle that has committed itself to impact investing to support small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in a bid to create new set of businesses that are technologically-oriented.

He said technology is the future of the world in terms of employment generation, wealth creation and economic development.

The director noted that, “If you want to see those indications achieved in the world we are going into now, you need to focus on technology, particularly technology that is mobile driven and this is one of the reasons why are partnering and investing in this new initiative under the brand name, Tuchi Technologies.”

Akanji said HIS would make some significant investment in the company to get it off the ground.

Also speaking, Mr. Patrick Atuche, Managing Director of Purpledot Media, promoters of Tuchi Technologies said they came up with the initiative to solve transportation system problems in Lagos State.

He said the new initiative is a transportation system that would enable commuters to move from one place to another conveniently and comfortably, adding that it will operate like the Uber transportation system, except that it will use buses as its means of transportation.

Atuche said commuters would be able to book a bus from one destination to another by logging into the company’s app on their phones to know where the next available bus is and when it would get to their bus stop.

The managing director who described the operations as convenient and reliable added that initially the buses would operate from Ajah to Oshodi and from Oshodi to Ajah before it would spread to other parts of the metropolis.

BUSINESS

Access, Diamond Mobile Apps To Run Side-By-Side

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Customers are at the center of the Access Bank, Diamond Bank merger to create a leading outfit. Diamond Bank customers will lose nothing under the new arrangement. Access Bank will bring to bear on the deal its commitment to customers, financial inclusion, sustainability, corporate expertise, and strong balance sheet.

Both banks’ Mobile Apps will run side-by-side until when they become so much alike that their 13 million customers will not bother about their integration.

Globally, business combinations are seen as the surest route to achieving greater impact and giving customers the more values and enhancing profitability for the entities.

The merger deal between Access Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, which will be concluded in April, presents great benefits to customers especially in the deployment of technology in providing banking services.

Based on the agreement reached by the boards of the two financial institutions, Diamond Bank shareholders would receive a consideration of N3.13 per share, comprising N1 per share in cash and the allotment of two New Access Bank ordinary shares for every seven Diamond Bank ordinary shares held as at the Implementation Date.

The offer represents a premium of 260 per cent to the closing market price of N0.87 per share of Diamond Bank on the NSE as of December 13, 2018, the date of the final binding offer. Immediately following completion of the merger, Diamond Bank would be absorbed into Access Bank and it will cease to exist under Nigerian law.

“Together, we will bring the power of banking to millions across Nigeria, focused on speed, service, and security. We are determined to ensure that both Access Bank and Diamond Bank customers will experience no disruption to normal banking services while we join forces to create Nigeria and Africa’s largest retail bank by customers. While there may be some changes in due course, we are committed to inform you ahead of time and in a way that is most convenient for you,” both lenders said in an emailed statement.

Executive Director, Personal Banking, Access Bank Plc,  Victor Etuokwu, had during a media briefing in Lagos gave insight on what the future looks like for both lenders. 

He said: “ It is a merger of two big banks to meet the needs of customers. We are going to run the mobile Apps of both banks side-by-side until when they will look alike, and when eventually integrated, customers will not even know. We know that Diamond Bank Mobile App is a market leader and we will leave it that way and same thing applies to the Diamond Extra”.

Continuing, he explained that where there are two close branches of both lenders, the customers will be the ones to determine which one will be closed, based on performance.

“If we have two branches like in Gbagada, Lagos, we will keep both of them open for one or two years. Then we will see where the customers go. Our customers will decide where they want to go. For us, we believe that the customer is king, and this merger is about giving the customer the best of services and value,” he stated.

Findings also showed that existing Diamondxtra customers have nothing to worry about as the reward scheme is not changing and winners will continue being paid while new winners will continue to emerge.

Infact, with the merger with Access Bank, Diamondxtra will become bigger and better as the scheme will also be opened to Access Bank customersThe merger will create about 13 million mobile customers, 3,100 Automated Teller Machines, over 600 branches and 29 million customers.

Besides, Diamond Bank customers can now enjoy instant borderless banking from any Access Bank branch.

“When they walk into any Access Bank branch and initiate payment in their local currency, the beneficiary will receive an instant direct credit to their account or cash in their local currency. This service is available in all Access Bank subsidiaries – Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Zambia and Sierra Leone,” the bank said.

Financial analysts said some other objectives behind mergers of the banks include increasing customer base and expanding into new activities.
Another important advantage of merger is that the process reduces competition and eliminates competitors from the banking industry.

Announcing Access Bank as the preferred bidder, Diamond Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Uzoma Dozie, said the potential merger of the two banks would create Nigeria’s and Africa’s largest retail bank. He added that the transaction, to be completed in the first half of the year, is in the best interest of all stakeholders.

Dozie also stated that the completion of the merger is subject to certain shareholder and regulatory approvals, adding that the proposed merger would involve Access Bank acquiring the entire issued share capital of Diamond Bank in exchange for a combination of cash and shares in Access Bank via a Scheme of Merger. Based on the agreement reached by the boards of the two lenders, Diamond Bank shareholders will receive a consideration of N3.13 per share, comprising N1 per share in cash.

Dozie said the transaction would include the allotment of two new Access Bank ordinary shares for every seven Diamond Bank ordinary shares held as at the implementation date. He said the bank’s shares would be absorbed into Access Bank at the completion of the merger and Diamond Bank would cease to exist under Nigerian law.

“ The board of Diamond Bank believes that the proposed combination of the two operations provides an exciting prospect for all stakeholders in both businesses,” he said.

Access Bank CEO speaks
Access Bank Plc Group MD/CEO Herbert Wigwe said the bank has a strong acquisition and integration track record.

Speaking to the conclusive acquisition of Diamond Bank, Wigwe said the banks involved have complementary operations that will ensure benefits for customers of Access Bank and Diamond Bank. “Access Bank has a strong track record of acquisition and integration and has a clear growth strategy,” Wigwe said via a joint statement with Diamond Bank.

“Access Bank and Diamond Bank have complementary operations and similar values, and a merger with Diamond Bank, with its leadership in digital and mobile-led retail banking, could accelerate our strategy as a significant corporate and retail bank in Nigeria and a Pan-African financial services champion. Access Bank has a strong financial profile with attractive returns and a robust capital position with 20.1 per cent Capital Adequacy Ratio as at 30 September, 2018. We believe that this platform, together with the two banks’ shared focus on innovation, financial inclusion, and sustainability, can bring benefits to Access Bank and Diamond Bank customers, staff and shareholders.”

Stakeholders speak on the deal 
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Director-General, Muda Yusuf, said the first gain of the takeover is that Diamond Bank has been saved from going under and the economy protected from the consequences of such occurrence.

“Today, the good thing is that depositors fund is safe. Some of the employees are not likely to lose their jobs since it is acquisition, and that is good for the economy. If Diamond Bank had failed completely, there would be systemic effect. In terms of foreign perception, acquisition or merger is better than bank failure,” he said.

Yusuf, however, advised shareholders to be more active in knowing how their banks are run. “Shareholders should provide effective oversight to ensure that their investments are protected,” he said.

Also, former Diamond Bank’s General Manager, Richard Obire, said Diamond Bank has such a brilliant brand name and customer base and these are what Access Bank will inherit. “The name Diamond Bank is gone forever and the next will be integration, which will lead to exit of the bank’s management team.”

Former President/Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Okechukwu Unegbu, said the process of takeover of Diamond Bank was an improvement from what happened at defunct Skye Bank.

According to him, the decision is a proactive step when compared to that of Skye Bank because Diamond Bank investors will even gain in the new arrangement.

“I think that shareholders of Diamond Bank did not lose much. Whether it is merger or acquisition between the two banks, the fact is one big bank is better than two weak banks.

“With this development, one expects a strong, virile and capable institution in the future that will equally protect the interest of the investors,” he said.
He, however, said the CBN should institute new measures that ensure that people who violate banking rules are punished.  “The CBN is the regulator and is expected to monitor and punish some of the recklessness of some of the banks and their managing directors. Banks’ boards should be held accountable. Again, there should be extra-ordinary shareholders’ meeting to approve the acquisition and possibly plan for a seamless integration process,” he said.

Michael Azu, a Lagos-based financial analyst, said the acquisition would boost stability and investors,w adding that it was a welcome development instead of allowing Diamond Bank to face regulatory sanctions and possibly liquidation for its poor liquidity positions.

“The merger has helped to protect investors’ and depositors’ confidence. It has ensured that depositors’ funds are protected from undue risk, and also removes the issue of systemic failure in the financial system,” he said.

Diamond Bank’s position
Diamond Bank had earlier announced its decision to drop its international operating licence to focus on national operations following capitalisation issues.

Dozie said: “The re-licensing as a national bank supports Diamond Bank’s objective of streamlining its operations to focus resources on the significant opportunities in the Nigerian retail banking market, and the economy as a whole,” he said in a statement.

“The move follows Diamond Bank’s decision to sell its international operations, which included the disposal of its West African Subsidiary in 2017 and Diamond Bank UK, the sale of which is currently in its final stages.

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BUSINESS

LivewithLynda Announces Most Watched Nigerian Ads; Union Bank’s Enabling Success Commercial Tops The List.

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Those who have seen the impressive Enabling Success short film by Union Bank might not be surprised to learn it emerged the “most viewed Nigerian Ad’ in a recent review by advert critic, LivewithLynda.

The TV commercialhit 3 million views on YouTube a few days ago, less than 5 months after its 2018 Independence Day release. By crossing the 3 million viewership mark, the commercial now stands as the most watched Nigerian advert on Youtube. It’s interesting to note that these figures do not include the millions of views it has also gathered across different social media platforms.

Some of us kind of saw it coming, though. That TVC is a fine work of Art!

The inspiring 2-and-a-half minute film beams the spotlight on different aspects of the Nigerian society, highlighting the need for people to hope and work for a better future.

Viewers have smiled, applauded and even shed a few tears as they identified with the characters of the commercial. From a taxi driver battling societal forces that threaten his fledgling business, to a youth corps member hoping for a better future; from a photographer wishing for better social amenities to a young mother struggling to balance her career and the home front.

The commercial painstakingly paints the daily struggles and disappointmentsof the average Nigerian and firmly reiterates Union Bank’s commitment to support the people in their bid to rise above the odds and live more successful, fulfilling lives.

Unlike the typical bank advert which focuses on marketing the institution’s products and services, the short film communicates strong themes of introspection, perseverance, healing and hope of a better future for Nigeria and her people. The commercial has continued to gather positive reviews across board.

An entirely indigenous production, the television commercial was co-ordinated by Image & Time brand agency, shot by Nigerian-owned Lighthouse Television and Filmworks and was filmed in various cities across Nigeria.

If you have not seen the short film, you really should do so.  Watch it here.

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Google, UBA Collaborate To Provide Free Wi-Fi To Customers

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Africa’s global bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has collaborated with Google and ISP partner to launch Google Station in 11 key UBA branches in Lagos State as part of plans to roll out 200 stations in the country.

Google Station, a platform for providing free, high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in public places, began in Lagos last year, and extended to Abuja in December in partnership with Backbone Connectivity Network.

This google-powered initiative would allow customers access to internet connectivity within the 11 branches and its environs, thereby facilitating their day-to-day businesses and activities, while ensuring unhindered connectivity.

The 11 branches where the hotspot will be located are: UBA Bank Road, 810-811 Bank Road, Daleko; UBA Matori, 21 Fatai Atere street; UBA Surulere, 152 Ogunlana Drive; UBA Allen, 13 Allen Avenue, Ikeja; UBA Tisco Plaza, Alausa; UBA Apapa, 11-13 Warehouse Road, Apapa; UBA Marina, 55 Marina, Lagos Island; UBA HQ, Broad Street, Marina; UBA Lekki Admiralty; UBA Oke Arin and UBA Aspamda Plaza, Trade Fair.

At the official launch which took place in UBA’s Head Office on Wednesday, UBA’s Executive Director/ Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Chuks Nweke, expressed UBA’s excitement over the collaboration, adding that the move will go a long way to present opportunities far beyond the imagination of both organisations.

He noted that the challenges of financial inclusion which the USSD platform has not been able to solve will be eased through the Google Station, as the financially excluded will now be able to access the internet and enjoy the services provided free of charge.

He said, “It is an interesting platform which will ultimately benefit everyone. It is a win-win for everyone. Customers will have ease of doing businesses, especially with the growing use of smart phones, and the 52 million Nigerians who have otherwise been financially excluded will now have access to data through this collaboration and can carry out their transactions with ease.

“Interestingly, SMEs, who previously had challenges with funding can now do other things which they couldn’t achieve before, such as accounting services and others. Also, UBA recently launched an educational app, and so, students will be able to use these Google Station platform to carry out their necessary research from the comfort of their homes, it is an awesome opportunity with benefits for everyone which we are presenting to our customers in line with our customer 1st philosophy.

Group Head, Marketing, UBA Plc, Dupe Olusola said in addition to the 11 locations, the organisations are looking to expand beyond the shores of Nigeria to other African countries where UBA operates. She added that by the collaboration, the initiative will help ease the burden off customers while also presenting them with opportunities to excel beyond boundaries.

Google Station is a simple set of tools to roll-out Wi-Fi hotspots, and aims to provide fast and reliable Wi-Fi in more places where more people spend time, such as bus stations, shopping malls, airports and public transit stations.

Specifically, the Wi-Fi service is available free of charge and partners leverage Google Station’s business model, which enables venues, system integrators, businesses and ISPs with access to fibre to setup, maintain and monetise their Wi-Fi networks.

Google Nigeria’s Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor noted that the institutions remained focused on providing internet services to users for free.

She said, “With the help of our partners, we are offering high-quality internet access in heavily-trafficked areas like airports, markets, malls and bus stations throughout the country, especially in areas where there were no internet connections before.

“Even with the amazing progress on expanding mobile internet, we are finding that public Wi-Fi remains a crucial step in getting free, high quality internet to everyone,” she explained.

Josh Woodward, Director, Product Management, who spoke generally on the benefits of the high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in public places said the collaboration will aim to solve a basic need and allow customers access to connectivity to assist them in their day-to-day businesses and activities.

He said, “Deploying Google Station in collaboration with UBA and 21st Century is an important step to connecting the next billion users. As a result of the locations enables us to be up-and-running in no time. Even more, their WiFi signal ensures connectivity to Google Station hotspots so users can do a lot of things online and be constantly connected.”

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