Niyi Adenubi is the Co-Founder and Executive Director, Institutional Business & Investor Relations of VFD Group Plc, a proprietary investment company based in Lagos. Adenubi, a trained investment banker with over 10 years of hands-on experience in Private Equity, Venture Capitalism, and Financial Advisory started his banking career in his mid-20s in London and at various instances, he has played specific oversight on Corporate Governance and Financial Advisory roles to numerous firms both in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom, most notably with the Royal Bank of Scotland and ATOS Consulting.
In this recent interview with Eleni Giokos of CNN Marketplace Africa, Adenubi, bares his mind on a range of issues including the success of the Group’s digital bank, V bank, and expansion plans.
At what point did you begin to think of starting a firm?
In my mid-20s, I was an investment banker in London. After about three or four years in investment banking consulting, I started thinking about my country and the continent. I started thinking of how to build businesses and create values in that space. My only expertise is investment banking so very quickly I set up an investment management firm called Paragon Partners and since that time we created 10-year strategies to build out initially a financial service holding company now a diversified investment company looking at financial services, power, education, and media – which is VFD Group.
Reading through the VFD Group corporate strategies, it is interesting to see a word about holding a positively socially conscious ecosystem. Do you really go in with this socially conscious kind of agenda?
I think the balance is extremely important. When we came up with those concepts, for us sustainability was very important. So, we want a sustainable business that is profitable but is also socially conscious. We are building people; we are lifting people out of poverty; we are giving people a chance to access capital either debt financing for their businesses or equity financing for their businesses as they go on to employ people. And those things matter to us because without that sustainability you cannot build that ecosystem and a country that has viable jobs for the young population. That was very key to what we were trying to achieve. However, if you do all those things and you do not make money you are also unsustainable
In terms of market shares, what are you aiming for and what is the next phase for you?
Some of that information is private and confidential but what I will tell you is that we are on track till half year 2021 to gain about 15% of the total banking market for our platform and once we do that we’ve ascertained that V bank is already a success. We would go from there to build. The initial plan was 15% to 20% of the initial banking market and either way, we are on track to meet that target even before half year next year.
What is the most exciting sector for you right now, where are you seeing the best opportunity coupled with the social impact you say. Where are you seeing the best alignment at the moment?
I will say easily it’s in financial technology. I know that’s been oversold but I think the story of Africa cannot over-sell the concept of involving 80% to 90% of the entire population bringing them into the financial space and banking sector. Till today, I think we still have about 40 million accounts, out of a population of 200 million. We will probably look at the power sector too as it is also an interesting space; Fintech also, definitely; and as we go along, we continue to transition.
Clearly, you and your team are thinking of the long term so what is the plan in 5 to 10 years, do you want to be a Pan African banking giant or group across many sectors?
We want to be a Pan African Investment company. We are already looking at Ghana and we have started a conversation in Ghana. We are looking to deploy a small payment bank in Ghana using the V Bank platform. From Ghana, we also looking at Kenya- it’s a very exciting market. We definitely have ambition for Africa and if we get lucky in our lifetime, we will go global, but I am quite hopeful that we can land in Africa.
Hollandia Lactose Free Milk Raises Awareness on Lactose Intolerance
Since its introduction into the Nigerian market, Hollandia Lactose Free Milk has been at the forefront of educating consumers on the challenges of lactose sensitivity, striking at the heart of the leading cause of dairy wariness – Lactose Intolerance.
With the aim of creating a community of consumers making conscious decisions on lactose sensitivity, Hollandia Lactose Free Milk is driving conversations across multiple engagement platforms in a creative, simple and relatable manner, delivering key messages of a wholesome healthy experience.
The brand is creating awareness with advertisement on Out of Home platforms, as well as activities in the digital space educating consumers on the challenges of lactose intolerance, the benefits of milk and proffering solutions.
Only recently, the issue of Lactose Intolerance was one of the focal points of discussion during the Hollandia Dairy Day Conference in May.
A nutrition consultant and Speaker at the conference, Mrs. Amaka Nwaora stated that lactose intolerance is an impaired ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products.
She noted that while lactose intolerance is not dangerous, its symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea, and diarrhea can be distressing.
Nwaora encouraged lactose sensitive consumers not to avoid milk because of its numerous health benefits but to explore lactose free milk like Hollandia Lactose Free Milk to eliminate this discomfort.
CHI Limited Marketing Director, Mrs. Toyin Nnodi, stated that the brand will continue to explore platforms to create awareness on lactose sensitivity and engage consumers with interest to take action.
“With a high number of lactose sensitive consumers, it is unusual that there are so few lactose free milk products to choose from, further highlighting the importance of Hollandia’s offering.Hollandia Lactose Free Milk, the only Ready-to-Drink (RTD) lactose free milk in Nigeria, is a 100% lactose free easy-to-digest milk which contains Calcium and essential Vitamin D for strong bones and teeth development.
“It is also a rich source of Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin E, and Protein, which support a healthier immune system. Hollandia Lactose Free Milk is a great tasting milk that is ideal for direct consumption, or use with beverages and milk-complementary meals.Many people avoid dairy because of lactose intolerance concerns. Our message is simple, Hollandia Lactose Free Milk offers a wholesome healthy experience without discomfort. You can safely choose Hollandia Lactose Free Milk and still enjoy all the taste and nutritious goodness of milk to meet your body’s need, ”she stated.
Top African Brands Lose US$5.5 Billion in Brand Value in 2021
The total value of Africa’s top 150 most valuable brands has declined by US$5.5 billion (12%) from US$45.5 billion in 2020 to US$40.0 billion in 2021, according to the latest Brand Finance Africa 150 2021 report.
The COVID-19 pandemic has played a key role in the downturn in the brand value of Africa’s top brands. Lockdown measures and travel bans were implemented throughout the year and across the continent, creating uncertainty and impacting brands’ ability to do business as usual.
Jeremy Sampson, Managing Director, Brand Finance Africa, commented:
“In a year that saw most African countries go into lockdown and significant unrest across the continent, a decline in total brand value for the top African brands is unsurprising. Following the pandemic, African brands will need to search for opportunities to make up lost ground. By embracing new technologies and collaboration, the continent can propel its recovery and bounce back from the extraordinary situation the world has found itself in.”
Babatunde Odumeru, Managing Director, Brand Finance Nigeria, commented:
“Just 17 Nigerian brands feature in the Brand Finance Africa 150 2021 ranking and contribute 6% of the total brand value. As is the case with many brands across the continent, Nigeria’s top brands are not yet truly Pan-African, so although their performance may be solid on home soil, they are failing to translate this internationally. We are witnessing some brands make strides towards expanding their footprints, should they do so successfully we could see a greater uplift in brand value, as well as more Nigerian brands featuring in the ranking.”
17 Nigerian brands feature in ranking
Behind South Africa, Nigeria is the second most represented nation in the Brand Finance Africa 150 2021 ranking with 17 brands featuring and accounting for 6% of the total brand value. 33 Export (down 8% to US$292 million) is Nigeria’s most valuable brand, sitting in 43rd in the overall ranking. This brand value decrease is in line with the trend seen for alcohol brands across the continent and the rest of the world with people going out and drinking less because of the pandemic.
South African brands dominate once again, with the entire top ten hailing from the nation. In total, 81 South African brands feature with a cumulative brand value of US$29.0 billion, equating to 73% of the total brand value in the ranking – a 15% decrease from last year.
MTN and Vodacom lead the way, with First National Bank (brand value US$1.3 billion), Old Mutual (brand value US$1.3 billion) and Standard Bank (US$1.3 billion) completing the top five. In total, there are only 19 of the continent’s 54 countries with brand representation in the ranking.
Morocco is the third most represented nation in the ranking, with 10 brands featuring, which account for 6% of the total brand value. Claiming 13th spot is Maroc Telecom – the highest ranked brand from outside South Africa – jumping five spots following a modest 1% rise in brand value to US$761 million. The telecoms brand was able to capitalize on the increased reliability on its services over the previous year and a half, with both work and social lives forced to turn online, managing to increase its customer base, seeing an uptick of 10% in broadband users.
Access Bank is nation’s fastest growing
Access Bank is Nigeria’s fastest growing brand, following an 8% increase in brand value to US$262 million – growth that has bucked the global trend for the banking sector this year.
Access Bank has celebrated strong revenue growth over the previous year and has made some strides towards its expansion plans, through completing acquisitions across Zambia and Kenya. The bank shows no signs of slowing down with plans underway to enter the South African market through its investment in Grobank – a key part of the bank’s wider mission to become ‘Africa’s Gateway to the World’.
MTN peaks again
South Africa’s MTN has retained the title of Africa’s most valuable brand, despite recording a 19% drop in brand value to US$2.7 billion. The telecoms giant dominates on home soil too, this year holding onto its decade-long reign as South Africa’s most valuable brand, according to the Brand Finance South Africa 50 2021 report.
It has been a turbulent year for MTN, however, with the brand facing several scandals from its money mobile services been hacked in Uganda, to being accused of price discrimination practices alongside telecoms rival and second-ranked Vodacom (brand value down 16% to US$1.7 billion). MTN has also begun to scale down its operations, announcing its exit from the Middle East, in order to focus and build further across Africa.
Despite this, according to the Brand Finance Global Brand Equity Monitor, MTN is ranked 3rd among consumers for “Popularity with friends and family”, 4th for “Cool” and 4th for “Accessible anywhere and anytime”.
With the recent appointment of Ralph Mupita to the helm as CEO, as well as the successful launch of its 5G network across major South African cities, MTN will hope to use these developments as a springboard to capture some of its lost brand value moving forward.
Capitec Bank crowned Africa’s strongest brand
In addition to measuring brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. According to these criteria, Capitec Bank has overtaken Vodacom to be crowned Africa’s strongest brand, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 89.2 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating.
According to the Brand Finance Global Brand Equity Monitor, Capitec is one of the five most reputable banking brands in the world. Reputation (and the main drivers of reputation) is highly correlated with brand consideration. Banks that outperform in reputation – by excelling in meeting customer needs – also outperform in brand consideration. Capitec scores extremely highly for both.
Surpassing the 15 million client mark in December 2020, Capitec has more customers than any other South African bank, all of whom benefit from its excellent customer service and personalised banking experience. The pandemic increased the number of online shoppers to more than ever before – the banking brand responded by launching a virtual banking card, making online transactions easier and safer for its customers.
Microsoft Overtakes Apple to Become World’s Most Intangible Company
Every year, the Brand Finance Global Intangible Finance Tracker (GIFT™) report ranks the world’s largest companies by intangible asset value.
This year’s number one company in terms of total estimated intangible value is Microsoft (US$1.90 trillion), which has jumped from 4th position in 2020 to overtake Apple (US$1.87 trillion), Saudi Aramco (US$1.64 trillion), and Amazon (US$1.47 trillion).
Microsoft Teams has become embedded into business life for global organisations, once again proving the value of Microsoft’s ability to innovate and roll-out at scale. Microsoft is investing heavily in its business suite solutions. Although Apple is the more valuable company by approximately $200 billion, Microsoft is estimated to have more intangible value with its portfolio of brands and business operations.
Intangible assets are identifiable, non-monetary assets without physical substance. Intangible assets can be grouped into three broad categories – rights (including leases, agreements, contracts), relationships (including a trained workforce), and intellectual property (including brands, patents, copyrights).
Intangible assets boom during COVID-19 pandemic
Over the past year in particular, global intangible asset value has grown faster than usual, and at $74 trillion it exceeds pre-pandemic levels by nearly a quarter, having increased 23% compared to $61 trillion in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated even further the importance of people, innovation, reputation, and brand for businesses all around the world. Intangible assets are now unequivocally a boardroom priority.
Increases through the pandemic were primarily fuelled by the growth of the world’s largest organisations which were resilient to investor uncertainty due to their scale and their focus on technologies which we continued to rely on through lockdowns. This year, growth has been driven by China and the USA, with several industries recovering from the downturn in 2020.
David Haigh, Chairman & CEO, Brand Finance Plc, commented: “In times of crisis, brands – especially those most valuable and strongest in their categories and markets – become a safe haven for capital. Like gold or fine art during past economic downturns, nowadays well-managed, innovative, and reputable brands are what the global economy turns to in the hour of need. There can be no better evidence for why brands matter than the role they have already played and will continue to play in the post-COVID recovery.”
Global intangible value grows by over 1000% in 25 years
25 years ago – when Brand Finance was established – global intangible assets were worth only an estimated $6 trillion, less than a tenth of the same value today. As of September 2021, global intangible assets are worth over $74 trillion. This is a 1145% growth over 25 years – approximately 11% per annum.
Annie Brown, Associate at Brand Finance, and author of the GIFT™ report, commented: “It is a pivotal moment in financial reporting for intangibles. Total estimated intangible value has grown by over 1000% in the past 25 years. At the same rate, total global intangible value could stand at over $1 quadrillion by 2050 (that is $1,000,000,000,000,000). As investors grapple with balancing various issues such as Climate Change and ESG over the coming years, it is essential that the data they need to understand these vast sums is readily available.”
Internally generated intangibles should be recognised in financial reports
The majority of intangible assets are not recognised, due to the limitations set by the financial reporting rules, which state that internally generated intangible assets such as brands cannot be disclosed in a company balance sheet.
David Haigh, Chairman & CEO, Brand Finance Plc, commented:
“Investors should not be deprived of this critical information. Intangible assets such as strong, valuable brands and innovative technology can be the differentiators that drive a $2 billion company to $2 trillion in 25 years – as witnessed with Apple. This information vacuum for investors is part of the reason why Brand Finance endeavours to estimate the extent of “undisclosed intangible value” in our GIFT™ study each year.”
To truly aid investors and provide them with useful information, we believe management should be allowed and required to:
- Identify the key intangibles of the entire business – both internally generated and acquired.
- Provide an opinion on the value of those intangibles in the notes to the financial statements.
- Provide an opinion of the overall business value at the reporting date, to help investors to understand whether or not their capital is allocated efficiently.
Kevin Prall, Technical Director, International Valuation Standards Council (IVSC), commented: “Despite the importance of intangible assets to the capital markets, only a small percentage are recognised on balance sheets, typically via acquisition from a third-party transaction. The pandemic has further exacerbated the disparity between market values and book values for those industries most reliant on brands, technology, and human capital for value creation. The IVSC supports Brand Finance, and all others, that look to make progress on this most critical issue.”
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