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Fidelity Bank Holds AGM, Assures of Greater Returns Through with Digitization

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Shareholders of Fidelity Bank Plc are in for greater returns in 2019 financial year with the lender’s sustained investment in digital innovations that would engender enhanced customer service delivery and open fresh streams of revenue.

Indications to this effect were given in Lagos, Friday by the Fidelity Bank CEO, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo during the Bank’s 31th Annual General Meeting (AGM) where the audited financial report for the year ended December 31, 2018, was presented to shareholders.

According to Okonkwo, the bank will not relent on efforts to increase the adoption rates and migration of customers to its digital banking platform. “We are investing heavily in digital technologies to drive our retail strategy, reduce cost and consequently improve revenue and returns for our shareholders” he stated.

With 25 percent of the bank’s fee-based income coming from digital banking, the Fidelity boss disclosed that the lender is introducing a digital lending solution and AI-Chatbots to spur further growth in the industry verticals, where it currently operates.

On the overall outlook of the bank, Okonkwo said Fidelity Bank was on track towards breaking in to the league of Tier 1 bank by 2022. “The 2018 financial year marked the beginning of the second phase of the growth aspirations of your Bank and I am happy, we closed the year impressively”, he stated.

Gross earnings in FY2018 increased by 4.8 percent to close at N188.9 billion driven primarily by 22.7 percent growth in earning assets. Total deposit, increased by 26.3 percent to N979.4 billion from N775.3 billion, just as current and domiciliary accounts grew in double digit

In other indices Profit Before Tax soared by 30.6% to N25.1BN, when compared with the 19.2BN it recorded in 2017. Similarly Profit After Tax (PAT) increased by 29.0 percent to N22.9 billion from N17.8 billion in 2017.

Shareholders commended management and staff for growing the fortunes of the bank in the last financial year. They made a plea for better returns in 2019 and unanimously approved the proposed dividend of N3.19 billion, which translates to 11kobo per ordinary share of 50k held by investors at the close of business on April 12, 2019.

Chairman, Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Nigerian Shareholders, Dr. Farouk Umar who lauded the bank for its consistent dividend payout, charged Management to continue to record better financial performances.

Mr. Timothy Adesiyan, President, Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association (NSAN) extolled the bank for its impressive showing in digital banking. “Digital banking has shown us increased profitability and progress. Kudos to Fidelity Bank he said.

Whilst commending the management of Fidelity Bank for its participation in the Bank of Industry (BOI) Traders Moni Scheme, he said “we are quite appreciative that the cost of risk has reduced considerably in the bank from 1.5 percent in 2017 to 0.5 percent”.

Speaking during the meeting, Chairman, Board of Directors, Mr. Ernest Ebi assured shareholders that the Board will continue to provide the right leadership at Board level, with focus on governance, risk management and capital preservation. “Every action and everything we have done thus far have been around these areas. The fundamentals are very strong we intend to keep things that way” he said.

BUSINESS

Heritage Bank’s 8 Years Journey Of Entrenching Business of Banking In Nigeria

Peter Okunoren

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Today marks a worthy milestone in the life of one of the fastest-growing financial service providers, Heritage Bank Plc as it celebrates eight (8) years of entrenching seamless service delivery in the business of banking in Nigeria.

This is a journey that began eight (8) years ago, premised on passion, commitment, doggedness, culture, and hard work amongst others stands today as a reputable financial organization in the Nigeria banking space.

The story began in 2012; a story of hard work and determination when Heritage Bank Plc emerged from a business combination of Heritage Banking Company Limited (HBCL) and Enterprise Bank Limited (EBL) after the acquisition of Societe Generale of Nigeria’s (SGBN) license by IEI Investment Ltd from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) having met all requirements by Nigeria’s apex bank.

Heritage Bank returned 100% of existing SGBN account holders’ funds which were frozen at the closure of the SGBN. This move brought a lot of smiles to the faces of former account holders and inspired many of them to open new accounts with Heritage Bank. In October 2014, Heritage Banking Company Ltd successfully met the requirements of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the CBN toward owning 100% shares in Enterprise Bank Ltd., after a highly competitive bid process.

This development firmly anchors the Heritage Bank in a rich legacy of technology and innovation in the banking industry. SGBN, which was incorporated in December 1976 and commenced full banking operations in August 1977, pioneered the introduction of e-banking services including its flagship, the 24/7 Cashpoint through the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in 1990.

With management focused on innovation through technology and a unique philosophy to create, preserve and transfer wealth to its customers, Heritage Bank found itself in a fiercely competitive banking environment but it remained guided by passion, resilience, innovation, and brand architecture that exuded quality service, performance, and sheer excellence.

Still, as big a move as it was, it remained just one of the many strategic moves to change the banking industry and Heritage Bank has made a lot of them and attains giant strides in reshaping the economy since it began operations in 2013 to drive improved investment outcome and job creation.

Success stories of entrenching business of banking in Nigeria:

As a catalytic financial institution, Heritage Bank, through its strategic partnerships with government and private organizations, has continued to make efforts to transform the nation’s economy through championing entrepreneurial schemes for businesses and the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector was not left out, which have always focused on dependable job-creating sectors, such as education, agricultural value chain (fish farming, poultry, snail farming), cottage industry, mining, and solid minerals, creative industry (tourism, arts and crafts), and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

In recent times, the bank’s response to dealing with the global economic challenge occasioned by COVID-19, which highly impacted SMEs, Heritage Bank PLC has continued to deepen its support to young entrepreneurs in Nigeria to grow their businesses either as start-ups or prospective business owners.

One of such is the last season of the reality TV show The Next Titan, themed “The Unstoppable” that was designed to search for business ideas that are immune to any pandemic, innovations that break boundaries, and technologies that can survive any lockdown. This programme produced a young vibrant entrepreneur, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology Owerri with a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Science who is the Chief Executive Officer of Josult Oil Processing Company, a palm oil processing company in Akwa Ibom State, Joshua Joseph Idiong, as he finally emerged the winner of the Next Titan Season-7, going home with a whooping sum of N10million.

Furthermore, Heritage Bank PLC in partnership with the Honourable Fatima Mohammed (FAMO) Foundation also provided succor to over 300 affected private school teachers and small-medium enterprises (SMEs).

Heritage Bank has continued to blaze the trail on the SME’s space to empower young entrepreneurs in such schemes as the HB Innovation Lab Accelerator programme (HB-LAB), Ynspyre Account, Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP), Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) on Young Entrepreneurship Business Training Programme (YEBTP), Young Entrepreneurs and Students (YES) Grant and Nigerian Youth Professional Forum (NYPF), Big Brother Nigeria, Lagos Comic-Con, among others.

Last year witnessed the Launch of the Nationwide Dukia-Heritage Bank Gold & Precious Metals which stands to create new opportunities for Nigeria to grow its potential reserves of 200 million ounces of gold.

The Nationwide Dukia-Heritage Bank Gold & Precious Metals Buying Centre will fast-track the 10 per cent contribution of the mining sector to GDP by 2026. Referring to these giant strides, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo remarked that the launch of this project between Heritage Bank and ‘Dukia Gold SPV’ would enable Nigeria to mine reserves properly, trade responsibly, refine locally and boost the nation’s foreign reserves.

Heritage Bank has continued to support Nigeria’s aspiration and roadmap to become a leading Information Communication Technology (ICT) Hub in Africa, The Bank doled out the sum of $40, 000 grants to winners of the maiden edition of HB Innovative Lab.
The bank’s commitment is to create enabling environment, resources, and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions with the potential to radically improve financial inclusion/intermediation, health, automobile, agriculture, and other related problems affecting critical sectors of the economy.

For the bank’s giant stride of support to tourism, Federal Government commended Heritage Bank for its commitment to the development and growth of the creative industry.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the commendation at a two-day Creative Nigeria Summit.

The bank, aimed at boosting Nigeria’s tourism via the creative arts industry supported the sponsorship of exhibition at the National Museum Benin, at the Exhibition Gallery of National Museum Benin by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), in collaboration with the Edo State Government, and the Smithsonian Institute, United States of America.

Also, efforts are being taken by Heritage Bank Plc and the River State government during the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) to make art and culture a unifying factor and major earner to the contribution of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

Heritage Bank Plc partnered with the organizers of the International Festival of Contemporary Dance (IFCOD) to host the second edition of One Language, a musical production of intrigue, dance, and drama.

Most prominent of its partnership and supports is the annual Calabar Carnival and festival, tagged “Africa’s Biggest Street Party,” was created as part of the vision of making Cross River State the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and other tourists across the world.

Heritage Bank is not done yet. The bank went further to prove its trend-setting profile by driving the seat of the agricultural financing revolution.

In a bid to support the real sector and unlock food potentials, Heritage Bank Plc provided over N5billion long-term facility under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) to Triton Aqua Africa Ltd (TAAL).

TAAL known as Triton Farm accessed the CACS through Heritage Bank, which was used to set up aquaculture businesses; nursery/hatchery to produce fingerlings and broodstock in Ikeja and earthen ponds for catfish and Tilapia in Asejire, Iwo, and Gambari towns in Oyo State.

Under the arrangement, TAAL will also help small-scale farms increase their fish production by making fingerlings available to them.

In the short term, the loan is expected to help Triton double its current production capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes with a projection to scale it up to 100,000 metric tonnes in five years.

The bank also has thrown its weight behind Globus Resources Limited, a subsidiary of Triton Group, to flag off the second phase of the afforestation programme in Oyo state.

Nigeria’s demand capacity for fish was estimated at 2.7million metric tons and the country currently produces 800,000 metric tons.

Triton is now producing over 25,000 metric tons and with them on board, over 25,000 metric tons capacity will be added to our current production, the company’s projection is to exceed 100,000 metric tons in 5years.

In the state level, Heritage Bank entered into a partnership with the Oyo State government in a multi-billion-naira project to give agriculture a boost.

Under the initiative, the bank supported the Oyo State Agricultural Initiative, OYSAI, a programme designed to revive agriculture, boost agro-allied businesses, and massive empowerment programme for both youth and women across the state through the creation of thousands of jobs in the sector.

This huge, albeit laudable, project that is spread across 3,000 hectares of land in 28 of the 33 Local Government Areas of Oyo State is in three stages: food crop cultivation, cash crop/horticulture, and food processing.

Heritage Bank is supporting agro investors involved in this initiative with funds and advisory services and indications are that the programme has already led to more than 30 per cent increase in food production in the state.

The Bank also supported thousands of smallholder farms in Kaduna and Zamfara states to benefit from the bank’s financial support for rice and soya beans production under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).

Further, on job creation, Heritage Bank through its establishment of a full-fledged learning and development institute accredited by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), dubbed “The Refinery” successfully trained and employed about 300 new intakes.

In the midst of the bank’s audacity to dare and succeed, industry watchers have continued to ask; how are they doing it? The answers may not be far from the fact that this is one bank whose leadership team continues to exude the charisma of the Midas touch. With Heritage Bank, the MD/CEO, Ifie Sekibo has proven over and over again that whatever he touches, turns into gold.




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BUSINESS

Fidelity Bank Set To Organise Diaspora Webinar Series, Deepens Engagement On New Remittances – Osinbajo, Emefiele, Dabiri-Erewa To Attend

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Fidelity Bank Plc, a top Nigerian bank has concluded plans to host its Diaspora Webinar Series with the inaugural edition slated for Saturday, March 06, 2021, by 2 pm. This virtual session seeks to enlighten Nigerian citizens’ residents abroad on recent policy measures by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its attendant implications for Diaspora investments.

Rightly themed, “The New CBN FX Policy and Positive Impact To Diaspora Investments in Nigeria”, the session will also aim specifically at providing them with valuable insights, intelligence, and expertise on how to stay on top of their investments back home.

 The event will have in attendance special guests and notable personalities including the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo who is the Special Guest of Honour and the Chief Host, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele who will deliver a keynote address at the event.

Other speakers and panelists at the session include Professor, Benedict Okey Oramah, Chairman/President of African Export-Import Bank, Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM),  Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Lead Faculty, Tekedia Institute, and Professor Olawale Sulaiman, renowned Neurosurgeon and Chairman of RNZ Global among others.

Streamed live on YouTube and ZOOM, the Series was borne out of the need to deepen engagement with Nigerian Diaspora Community particularly as developmental partners considering the critical role remittances play in driving sustainable economic growth.

Speaking on the webinar, Fidelity CEO, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe stated that the session was most appropriate and timely, adding that “the session will offer the Nigerian Diaspora greater clarity on all of the recent policies enacted by the government with a view to enabling them to make sound investment decisions”.

According to Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe, the bank, in the last twelve (12) years, has become a dependable partner for diaspora remittances and investment. Armed with a deep understanding of these customer’s needs, she went on to explain that the bank has continued to offer bespoke products and services that are unrivaled in the financial services industry.




Worthy of mention is the Diaspora Mortgage and Dollar Denominated Fixed Deposit Investment Account that attracts up to 5 percent annual interest depending on the amount and tenure.

The CBN, as part of efforts to liberalize, simplify and improve the receipt and administration of Diaspora remittances into the country had issued guidelines to ensure that beneficiaries of Diaspora remittances through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) receive such inflows in foreign currency (US dollars) through the designated bank of their choice.

The policy became necessary in view of the urgent need to deepen the Foreign Exchange (FX) market, provide more liquidity and create transparency in the administration of Diaspora remittances into Nigeria.

To register for the webinar, click on the link – https://www.fidelitybank.ng/diaspora-webinar/

The programme will be streamed LIVE on YouTube and ZOOM. For more information, send emails to [email protected]




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BUSINESS

Lasaco Shares Not Suspended

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Our attention has been drawn to an online publication on the 22nd of February 2021 that Lasaco Assurance Plc. (“LASACO”/”the Company”) shares had been placed on indefinite suspension. This is not correct as the shares of the Company were never placed on indefinite suspension by The Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”/”the Exchange”).

The shareholders of Lasaco Assurance had at the Annual General Meeting of 8th October 2019, approved the reconstruction of 7,334,343,421 Ordinary shares of 50k each in the share capital of the Company in the ratio of ONE (1) new ordinary share for every FOUR (4) Ordinary shares previously held by the shareholders into 1,833,585,855 Ordinary shares of 50k each.

Lasaco Assurance, through its Financial Advisers and Stockbrokers, filed necessary Applications with the Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”/”the Commission”) and The Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”/”the Exchange”) for the reconstruction of the said Issued shares as directed by the shareholders.

Following the approval of SEC with the Issuance of Letter of no Objection to the reconstruction by the Commission and submission of the said letter to the Exchange, suspension from trading in the shares of the Company was placed by the Exchange from Monday 1st February 2021 to Friday, 19th February 2021 to allow the Share Reconstruction exercises to be concluded.

The shares of the Company resumed trading on Monday, 22nd February 2021 following the conclusion of the Share Reconstruction.

It should be noted that Lasaco Assurance is a regulatory compliant institution and had not done anything to warrant an indefinite suspension of its shares at the Exchange as published by your paper.

Management.




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