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Banks to Close Branches as Recession Bites Hard

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Recession bites

A number of Deposit Money Banks in the country will close many of what they described as unprofitable branches as the economic recession continues to bite harder, investigation by our correspondent has shown.

It was similarly gathered that most of the banks would lay off hundreds of workers between now and December.

The revelation came barely 24 hours after Unity Bank Plc laid off about 300 workers, more than the 220 that was mentioned last week.

Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank and Skye Bank Plc had earlier in the year sacked over 3,000 members of their workforce.

It was learnt that following the economic downturn in the country, a number of bank branches could no longer justify their existence as cost analysis had shown that the financial institutions were spending more on salaries and overheads than the income from the branches.

Some top bank executives, who confirmed the development to our correspondent under the condition of anonymity on Monday, said some lenders might be forced to relieve more workers of their duties before the end of this year.

An executive director in one of the banks that recently asked some of its workers to go said, “We have laid off some of our staff members but that it still not enough. Many branches are just existing for the sake of being there. They are not generating enough income. What they are bringing in is far less than what the bank is incurring as costs on them.

“We may have to close such branches before the year ends. I know a number of other banks that are planning something similar.”

Commenting on the development, an ex-banker and Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, described branch closure as an ongoing action in the banking sector, especially in times of economic downturn.

He, however, noted that banks were required to notify the Central Bank of Nigeria before closing any branch.

“It is an ongoing administrative thing in the banking industry. Banks will want to rationalise branches, especially in a difficult economy. Banks are planning to cut costs. Branch rationalisation is normal but the CBN has to be notified,” Chukwu explained.

The banking sector has been facing a number of challenges following the downturn in economic activities.

The slowdown in the economy, which has led to a high rate of non-performing loans in the banking system, made four lenders to lose at least N17bn in profits in the first quarter of this year.

Specifically, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc recorded a combined decline of N17bn in their profits before tax for the three months ended March 31, 2016, when compared with the corresponding period of 2015, according to the results of the financial institutions posted on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

When compared with the PBT of N30.52bn, N32.65bn, N4.26bn and N7.94bn recorded by the banks in the first quarter of 2015, the combined PBT of the four banks dropped by N17bn from N75.4bn in the first quarter of last year to N58.4bn in the same period of this year.

While Ecobank’s PBT fell from N30.52bn in the first quarter of 2015 to N20.63bn in a similar period of this year, GTBank’s dropped from N32.65bn to N30.68bn. That of Unity Bank dropped from N4.26bn to N1.05bn, while Diamond Bank’s came down from N7.94bn to N6.04bn.

In terms of their profit after tax, the four banks recorded a decline of N14bn.

Banks in the country had been posting sharp increases in profits before tax and profits after tax since 2011 after the establishment of the Asset Management of Corporation of Nigeria in 2010 following the banking sector crisis in 2009.

However, consistent drop in the global prices of crude oil, Nigeria’s main foreign exchange earner, since June 2014, caused banks’ profits to start declining at the end of 2015.

Majority of the 15 banks listed on the NSE recorded declines in their full-year profits in the 2015 financial year. However, a few ones such as Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and GTBank outperformed the market despite sizeable volume of bad loans.

In the first quarter of 2016, 13 out of the 15 banks posted a combined PBT of N135.36bn, compared to N148bn in the corresponding period of last year.

Similarly, the 13 banks posted profits after tax of N116.6bn in the first quarter of 2016, compared to N126.4bn in the first quarter of 2015.

The 13 banks are Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, GTBank, FCMB Limited, Sterling Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, UBA Plc, Unity Bank, Wema Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

Skye Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC Bank have yet to release their full-year 2015 and first-quarter 2016 financial results.

An economic analyst and Head, Investment Advisory, Afrinvest West Africa Limited, Mr. Ayodeji Ebo, said the declining profit in the financial services sector was a reflection of the challenges facing the Nigerian economy.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Farmforte, Others Signs MoU To Strengthen and Sustain Growth in Agricultural Sector

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Farmforte - Investors King

Farmforte Limited has signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding with the Agricultural Fresh Produce Growers and Exporters Association of Nigeria; HYBR, a pan-African innovation firm; and ALTS, a consulting and strategy development firm.

The firm said in a statement on Sunday that the partnership would strengthen common interest cooperation and stimulate inclusive and sustainable growth within the agricultural sector, by capitalising on the synergy and comparative advantage offered by each organisation.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Farmforte Co-Chief Executive Officer, Osazuwa Osayi, said, “Our mid to long-term strategic goals are further reaffirmed, as this partnership will facilitate the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and expertise across the agricultural sector.

“We will collectively address initiatives and approaches concerning agricultural investments, food security, and the overall robustness of the value chain.”

He said the collaboration would also unlock the full potential of the sector and place it on a renewed path for success, especially within a post-pandemic economy.

The President of AFGEAN, Tajuddeen Dantata, said, “By creating dialogue and fostering investment in the horticulture sector, this partnership will endeavor to support Farmforte in its exporting efforts by improving operational efficacy and cost-savings, while ultimately driving socio-economic growth in the country.”

The Chief Executive Officer, HYBR, Charles Ojei, said to drive inclusion, sustainability, job creation, and Nigeria’s overall economic growth, the optimisation of the agriculture value chain was critical.

“This collaboration is a fusion of the complementary capabilities of all partners to move a bigger agenda forward.”

The Managing Partner, ALTS, Akintunde Sawyerr, said, “The goal of this partnership is to support Farmforte’s vision of becoming the largest agribusiness by 2035 via scalable and world-class innovation across its enterprise.”

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OctaFX Launches Dual Life Campaign

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OctaFX- Investors King

International Forex broker, OctaFX has launched a socially conscious marketing campaign called Dual Life aimed at simplifying forex trading and helping Nigerians create wealth.

A statement by the organisation on Monday said that the marketing campaign would celebrate the superpowers of Nigerians who committed their time and efforts to two or more jobs and were successful at each one of them.

It stated that the #DualLifewithOctaFX campaign had influencers in the Nigerian lifestyle and entertainment space such as Toke Makinwa, Bovi, Denola Grey, Timini Egbuson, and others at the core of the engagements, establishing the other sides of the celebrities and influencers as entrepreneurs.

While speaking about the campaign, the Marketing Manager, EMEA, OctaFX, Ali Nwadike said, “We wanted to position forex trading as that activity young Nigerians and everyone else, can engage in, even while focusing on their careers.

“From findings, most young Nigerians today work two or more jobs to pay the bills and attain financial freedom. But, we don’t get to talk about this often or appreciate the efforts, hence the #DualLifewithOctaFX campaign.

“While some see their jobs as a burden, we want people to see it as an achievement; and promote the school of thought that says one, two, many jobs is not bad especially when you are trying to create wealth.”

Nwadike added that more Nigerians would be exposed to the beauty of keeping their regular jobs and careers while making more money from forex trading with the OctaFX Trading App.

The statement also affirmed that OctaFX had made necessary arrangements from assembling forex experts and compiling training guides in the simplest and relatable form.

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Appointments

AfDB Appoints Dr. Beth Dunford as Vice President

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African Development Bank - Investors King

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has announced the appointment of Dr. Beth Dunford as its Vice President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development. The appointment becomes effective from July 1, 2021.

A statement explained that Dunford, a national of the United States of America, brings extensive experience to this role. She has held senior-level leadership positions in the US government, where she managed large and complex programs, working with the private sector, civil society, and multilateral and bilateral institutions, as well as with African governments, to deliver agricultural, social and human development impact at scale.

Prior to her appointment, Dunford worked as the Assistant to the Administrator in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, as well as the Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

“In this dual role, she coordinated Feed the Future across multiple U.S. government agencies, oversaw a $1 billion annual budget and leveraged millions of direct private sector investment annually. In this capacity, she also coordinated a $2.3 billion Feed the Future presidential initiative across 11 US government agencies and forged partnerships within the private sector and civil society targeted at reducing hunger and poverty.

“She also led USAID’s technical and regional expertise focused on improving agriculture-led growth, resilience, nutrition and water security, sanitation and hygiene,” the statement added.

President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said he was delighted to appoint Dunford as Vice President to lead the Bank’s work on Agriculture, Human and Social Development.

“Beth is a strategic and effective leader with deep knowledge and impressive track record in designing and delivering highly impactful large-scale programs that have helped in lifting 27 million people out of poverty in 36 countries,” he added.

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