Unity Bank Plc yesterday reduced its over 2,000 workforce by sacking 215 members of staff, it was reliably learnt.
The exercise, it was further leant, was to enable the lender realign its operation and pursue a long term growth strategy.
Some of the downsized staff members were said to have opted to resign while management approved severance package for them in line with the bank’s policy.
The lender last May, forged a strategic alliance with Black Trituium, equity and investment fund manager.
The bank said it in a report on its website that it was driven by the vision to be the retail bank of choice for all Nigerians and “this is at the core of all that we do”.
Investigation revealed that the affected members of staff were those that achieved less than 40 per cent of their performance target, which affected the lender’s overall profitability in recent years.
The downsizing, which cut across all cadres including junior, middle and top management positions, happened at a time majority of banks are battling with poor profitability over harsh economic conditions and heightened business risks from the plunge in crude oil prices.
The bank is also said to have attracted specialist skills to its workforce since the relocation of its head office from Abuja to Lagos, which was in line with its plan to grow market share in viable clusters of the retail market.
A source close to the bank said the new focus of the business has led to significant enhancement of human capital in its various business units.
This was with a view to injecting fresh ideas, initiatives and energies to strengthen its various departments with capabilities to pursue the attainment of strategic business focus in the Agricultural financing, retail/Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and development of rural economy.
It bank, it was further leant, recently hired about 200 new staff to drive the transformation initiative while about 100 other staff were said to have been promoted.
Commenting on this development, an industry expert asserted that these exercises are part of the hard choices that forward-looking organisations desiring optimum performance had to take from time to time to enable it deliver consistently on shareholders expectations.
In the report on its website, the lender said it was one of Nigeria’s leading retail banks with 240 business offices spread across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. “We are Nigeria’s seventh largest bank by business locations,” it said.
The Nation learnt that the new investor in the bank, Black Trituium, was committed to making significant equity investment in the bank.
This strategic alliance will expand Unity Bank’s business scope, strengthen its capital base and support the bank’s retail strategy while meeting the investment objectives of Black Trituium. The Black Trituium manages funds for individuals and institutions such as Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The collaboration with the bank is expected to expand the retail and Small and Medium Enterprises segment of the bank. Investment analysts see this as a unique opportunity with the potential of broadening the bank’s customer base and provide long term stakeholders value.
Furthermore, given the current economic outlook, this strategic alliance will come with immediate benefits that will enhance the capacity of the bank to meet the needs of its banking public.The alliance will also support government’s initiatives aimed at driving growth in the real sector through Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and retail products, with particular focus on the agricultural sector.
Unity Bank commenced operations in January 2006 following the merger of nine financial institutions with competences in investment, corporate and retail banking.
Union Bank Announces the Appointment of Aisha Abubakar as Independent Non-Executive Director
Union Bank of Nigeria Plc (“Union Bank”) has announced a change to the membership of its Board of Directors with the appointment of Ms. Aisha Abubakar as an Independent Non-Executive Director effective 9th September 2021, following the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Ms. Abubakar joins the Board of Union Bank following her tenure as Nigeria’s Honourable Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development from 2018 to 2019. Prior to this, she also served as the Honourable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment between 2015 and 2018. At the start of her career, Ms. Abubakar worked at Continental Merchant Bank Ltd., African Development Bank and African International Bank.
She is an accomplished public sector administrator with over three decades of professional experience in Public Service and Pension Administration, Investment Banking, SME Finance/Rural Enterprise Development and Micro-Credit Administration.
Ms. Abubakar is a Fellow of the International Professional Managers Association (IPMA-UK), and the President of the International Experts Consultants (IEC-UK).
Commenting on the addition to the Board, Mrs. Beatrice Hamza Bassey, Union Bank’s Board Chair said: “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I welcome Ms. Aisha Abubakar to the Board. She brings many years of robust experience which will be invaluable in supporting our efforts to steer the Bank forward and deliver on our strategic objectives.”
Also commenting, Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Emeka Okonkwo said: “I am pleased to welcome our new Independent Non-Executive Director, Ms. Aisha Abubakar to the Board. We look forward to drawing from her wealth of experience and fresh perspectives as we continue to execute our vision to be Nigeria’s most reliable and trusted partner.”
AfDB Approves $50M Trade Finance Deal with Standard Chartered Bank
The African Development Bank Group has approved a $50m Trade Finance Unfunded Risk Participation Agreement (RPA) for StandardChartered Bank.
This was contained in a statement titled ‘African Development Bank approves a $50m Multinational Trade Finance Risk Participation Agreement facility for Standard Chartered Bank’ published on the bank’s website on Wednesday.
The statement said, “The board of directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a $50m Trade Finance Unfunded Risk Participation Agreement facility between the African Development Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.”
The essence of this agreement is to promote intra-Africa trade, ensure regional integration and lessen the trade finance gap in Africa.
“The agreement is expected to boost intra-Africa trade, promote regional integration, and contribute to the reduction of the trade finance gap in Africa, in line with implementation aspirations of the African Continental Free Trade Area,”
The bank’s Director for Financial Sector Development, Stefan Nalletamby, stated that “We are excited about finalising this facility with Standard Chartered Bank as it offers us the flexibility to use our strong AAA-rated risk-bearing capacity to increase access to trade finance and boost intra/extra-African trade on the continent, in support of the AfCFTA.
“This partnership is expected to catalyze more than $600m in value of trade finance transactions across multi-sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and energy over the next three years.”
Director-General of the bank’s Southern Africa region, Leila Mokadem, was quoted to have said, “The advent of COVID-19, coupled with stringent regulatory/capital requirements and Know Your Customer compliance enforcement, has seen many global banks reduce their correspondent banking relationships in Africa, while some are exiting the market altogether.
“There is, therefore, an urgent need for financing to reenergise Africa’s trade, which requires more participation of institutions like the African Development Bank.”
The parties in the agreement are expected to share the default risk on a portfolio of eligible trade transactions originated by African Issuing Banks and indemnified by Standard Chartered Bank.
Beneficiaries of this facility are issuing banks in Africa with the ability to grow their trade finance business has been constrained by inadequate trade confirmation lines from international banks.
Other beneficiaries are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and domestic firms which rely on these issuing banks to fulfill their trade finance commitments.
The RPA facility is aligned with the AfDB’s High 5 priority goals which are: light up and power Africa, feed Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa, and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
Standard Chartered Launches Flexible ‘Smart Business Loan’ Product To Support SMEs
Standard Chartered on Wednesday launched its Smart Business Loan (SBL) product to support Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) in Nigeria.
David Idoru, Head of Consumer, Private and Business Banking, of the bank in Nigeria, said in a statement in Lagos that SBL was an unsecured installment/term loan available to SME clients within key target sectors.
“Qualified SMEs would be able to access up to N20million loan, without providing tangible security/collateral to purchase asset, finance business expansion and other capital expenditure needs.
“This loan was designed to help SMEs meet their short to medium-term needs.
“As a Bank, our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity in the locations we operate in. This is done through offering cash, lending, trade and wealth management solutions that specifically drive economic growth,” he said.
Idoru said that the bank was constantly looking for ways to ensure SMEs get access to the needed support to enable their businesses to thrive, adding that prior to the product launch, clients were required to provide full collateral cover to access loans from the bank, but SBL had been designed to provide the necessary flexibility to the clients.
“It is accessible to new and existing clients of the Bank with no waiting period, including small and medium scale organisations, who can access up to N20million in loans without collateral for a maximum tenure of two years,” he said.
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