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Naira Sinks To N620 Against Pound, As Euro Rises To N565

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The naira tumbled to 620 against the British pound sterling at the parallel market on Thursday, even as the euro rose to N565.

The naira fell by 2.1 percent against the pound from 607 on Wednesday, and by 1.4 percent against the euro from 560.

The local currency was, however, stable against the dollar at the parallel market as it traded at 478/$1. It dropped from 475/$1 on Tuesday to 478/$1 on Wednesday.

In the Investors’ and Exporters’ forex window, the naira firmed to 385.50 against the greenback on Thursday from 386 on Wednesday as daily turnover rose to $205.84m from $32.88m on Wednesday, according to data obtained from FMDQ Group.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has kept the official exchange rate at N379/$1 since August when the naira was devalued for the second time this year from 360 per dollar. It was first devalued to 360 in March from 306.

The nation’s forex reserves stood at $35.54bn as of November 17, down from $35.69bn on October 28, according to the CBN.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, had told our correspondent on Monday that forex demand pressures were coming from end-users and those whose obligations had matured and in need of forex to meet the obligations.

“There is a lot of unmet demand,” Chukwu had said, adding that pressure was mounting even as the CBN continued to intervene in the market.

BUSINESS

BAFI: Fidelity Bank Wins Commercial Bank of The Year as Nnamdi Okonkwo Bags CEO Of The Decade Award

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Fidelity Bank Plc at the weekend clinched the award for Commercial Bank of the Year at the 2020 edition of BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards held in Lagos. The bank won the award in recognition of its support for economic activities in the real sectors of the Nigerian economy, particularly for its consistency in enhancing the development and competitiveness of Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Receiving the award on behalf of the bank at the presentation ceremony which took place at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, Fidelity Banks’s Executive Director, Corporate Bank, Mr. Obaro Odeghe dedicated it to the bank’s teeming customers, whom he said are central to the bank’s overall strategic intent.

 “The reward for hard work they say is more work. We are encouraged to continue to do more for the benefits of our customers and the overall economy” he stated.

Also, on the night, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo was honored as the banking sector CEO of the Decade for “transforming Fidelity Bank into one of the fastest-growing and most trusted financial services brands in Nigeria”.

The organizers specifically noted some of his key achievements to include the rebranding project which drove an increased youth appeal; revamping of the bank’s performance management culture to instill a culture of performance; technology refresh and digital transformation in furtherance of the digital retail strategy he implemented.

Leveraging on the realigned and repositioned operating structures, re-energized workforce, and a more appealing brand, the bank recorded consistent growth in financial performance under his leadership. Specifically, PBT growth of 236% from N9.0bn to N30.4bn in 2019; RoE rose from 5.5% to 13.3%; Customer Deposits grew by 68% from N806.3bn to N1,352.3bn and Savings Deposit rose by 275% from N83.3bn to N312.1bn.

Other notable achievements of the Fidelity CEO include Net Loans and Advances growth of 174% from N426.1bn to N1,165.8bn; Customer Base increase by 121% from 2.4 million to 5.3 million and Digital Banking penetration improvement from 1.0% to 50.1%, accounting for 28.4% of total fee income.

The award was received on behalf of Mr. Okonkwo by the bank’s Executive Director, Operations and Technology, Mr. Gbolahan Joshua who dedicated it to all stakeholders including, customers, shareholders, Board of Directors, Executive Management, and staff.

“This comes as a crowning glory to the contributions of Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo to Fidelity Bank, the banking industry, and the entire Nigerian economy. As you may be aware, he is retiring as our CEO, after the completion of contract tenure, by December 31, 2020. He has asked me to dedicate this to all the stakeholders of the bank, including his family and mentors. According to him his modest achievements and contributions would not have been possible without their unalloyed support and help” said Joshua.

BAFI Awards, organized by BusinessDay Newspapers, seeks to identify and celebrate organizations, teams, and individuals that have achieved excellence in the delivery of financial services across the entire client and customer spectrum. Established 7 years ago, BAFI cuts across banking, insurance, fintech, capital markets, market infrastructure and technology, investment management, pension fund, trustees, registrars, stockbroking, private equity, and digital currencies.

An Awards Review Committee made up of eminent analysts and members of the BusinessDay Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU), evaluates and selects winners using parameters such as Profitability, Net Interest Margins (NIM), Loan to Asset Ratios, Cost to Income Ratios, Non- Performing Loans (NPL), Net Asset Value (NAV), Share Price Performance, Return on Average Asset, Deposits and Loan Growth as well as Return on Average Equity(ROAE) amongst other financial and non-financial indices.

 

 

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BUSINESS

UBA Gets Double Honours at BAFI Awards, Wins Best Bank of the Year, International Bank Of The Year

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, carted two highly coveted laurels at the BusinessDay’s Bank and other Financial Institutions Awards (BAFI) winning the Bank of the Year and the International Bank of the Year at the glamorous event held over the weekend.

The bank beat other strong contenders – Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, and First Bank – to clinch the two top categories in a well-attended ceremony comprising of Bank CEO’s, Captains of Industries, and Senior financial executives.

UBA won the ‘Bank of the Year’ in recognition of UBA’s consistent effort in outperforming its peers using a composite of financial metrics, strategic foresight, execution discipline, world-class governance, and global vision.

The Bank also won the award for ‘International Bank of the Year’, a keenly contested category, that pitches Nigerian financial institutions that have expanded on the continent against their international peers operating across Africa.

UBA’s Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Liadi Ayoku, who received the awards on behalf of the bank, expressed his delight on the recognition from BusinessDay.

He said, “These awards mark another milestone for UBA Group and is a testament of the diligent execution of the bank’s strategic initiatives on customer service. Being recognized as Nigeria’s best bank complements positive feedback from customers and is a recognition of our improving efficiencies, service quality, and innovation. I, therefore, dedicate it to our growing loyal corporate and retail customers, who are our essence. Given our heritage commitment to Africa’s development, we continue to impact lives through our service as well as funding to individuals, businesses, and government,” he noted.

Ayoku pointed out that the bank remains focused on its goal of democratizing banking in Africa, leveraging on new technologies, and emphasized its determination to change the narrative of financial services in Africa.

Publisher of BusinessDay Newspapers, organizers of the event, Frank Aigbogun, noted that UBA has excelled in the key areas of prioritizing customers, which according earned the bank double honours.

While explaining the rationale behind UBA winning the two prestigious categories in its December issue, Aigbogun noted that the bank stood out in prioritizing customers as has been evident in the significant rise in Customer Deposits which leaped by 35.7 % to N5.2trillion up from N3.8 trillion at the end of the last financial year.

He noted that even though Africa’s economic landscape has been unpredictable in recent times which resulted in a recession in Nigeria and some of Africa’s best-performing economies, the bank still found its rhythm and excelled.

He said, “In these conditions only the most diversified and innovative of regional banks can prosper. And this is precisely why UBA has scooped the BAFI 2020, Best Bank of the year, and International Bank of the year, a testament to hard work, resilience. For one, the lender registered impressive top-and bottom-line growth over the review period.”

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touchpoints, in 20 African countries. With a presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services.

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BIG STORY

CBN Directs BDC Operators To Sell Dollars At N392

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed bureau de change operators in the country not to sell dollars higher than N392 to end-users.

In a circular signed by O.S. Nnaji, director of trade and exchange at the CBN, and dated November 30, 2020, the apex bank said the volume of sales for each market is $10,000 per bureau de change (BDC).

“Please be advised that the applicable exchange rate for the disbursement of proceeds of IMTOs, for the period Monday, November 30 to Friday, December 14, 2020, is as follows: International money transfer service operators (IMTSOs) to banks – N388/$1; Banks to CBN – N399/$1; CBN to BDCs – N390/$1; BDCs to end-users not more than N392/$1,” it read.

At the close of trading on Friday, figures from the financial market dealers exchange over the counter (FMDQ) NAFEX, an official market where the exchange rate is traded, also show that the exchange rate between the naira and dollar has depreciated to N390/$1 — the lowest level since the introduction of the import & export (I&E) window in 2017.

This is about N4 higher than the N386 per dollar which the apex bank had sold dollars to the BDC operators

In the parallel market, the naira hit record lows, falling by 2.2 percent to N495.00/$1 as lack of access to forex at the official windows has funneled demand to the parallel market.

This also followed recent comments by Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, saying that the parallel market makes up only 5 percent of the overall FX market which is patronized by people who go there for cash to offer bribe and corruption noting that it should not be used to determine the naira’s true value.

The apex bank sells $10,000 twice weekly to BDCs and has sold over $1 billion since September 7 when it resumed intervention following a break occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nigeria’s FX reserves further declined by $40.05 million week-on-week to $35.45 billion, as the outflows for the CBN’s interventions across the various FX windows continue to outstrip dollar inflows.

Year-to-Date, the naira is down by 6.6 percent and 26.9 percent at the I&E window and in the parallel market, respectively.

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