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Innovation and Resilience Common Themes Amongst Winners of African Banker Awards 2021

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African Banker Awards 2021 - Investors King

Winners of the 2021 edition of the African Banker Awards were announced today at a virtual awards ceremony. The Awards, since 2013, are held during the Annual meetings of the African Development Bank, the event’s High patron, which are taking place also virtually between 23rd and 25th June.

The Awards have become the most respected and recognised industry event celebrating African banking achievements. The organisers this year put an emphasis to recognise and reward institutions that contributed to the real economy which has suffered from the impact of Covid-19 as well as contributed to women empowerment on the continent.

Herbert Wigwe won for the second consecutive year African Banker of the Year. Access Bank is now present in South Africa following its acquisition of Grobank. As a result of its rapid growth the last decade, Access Bank has become one of the largest retail banks in Africa with over 40 million customers.

Morocco’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Mohammed Benchaâboun, won Finance Minister of the Year. He was recognised for the exceptional work of his ministry which coordinated an exemplary response to the economic impact from the crisis, helping to protect both lives and livelihoods. The fiscal stimulus provided has cushioned the impact of the pandemic. The ministry managed to crowd in both public and private sector resources that were used to support the most needy.

Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the Reserve Bank of South Africa, was awarded the Central Bank Governor of the year. Under his leadership, the Reserve Bank has managed to act decisively but also, the Committee noted, in a measured way, managing both upside and downside risk.

Felix Bikpo earned the Life Achievement Award for his long and distinguished career. When asked for his outlook on the future of the continent, he remained upbeat saying technological developments and also the human capabilities that we have developed in Africa are cause for optimism.

Charlie Robertson, chief economist at international investment bank Renaissance Capital won the African Banker icon category. In his remarks he noted that it was important to drive up savings rates to help spur greater investments on the continent, if Africa is to replicate the Asian miracle.

Omar Ben Yedder, Group Publisher of African Banker said: “I was really impressed by the entries this year. It showed that the banking sector is healthy and resilient which will be critical if it is to support the economic recovery post-COVID. What will be fundamental to our recovery is the support of the real economy, especially SMEs, and also a focus on more equity investments and investments in general. For that, as our African Banker Icon suggested, we will also need to increase our savings rate across the continent. If I had one comment on the winners, it was dominated by men this year. However I should add that the institutions that were recognised in our ceremony all had strong gender programmes, both in terms of supporting women-led businesses but also strong programmes to promote women and have women leaders within their organisations.”

This year the Awards were sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund, Bank of Industry (Nigeria), Banque du Développement du Mali and technology partner TagPay.

THE 2021 AFRICAN BANKER AWARD WINNERS 

Sustainable bank of the year
Commercial International Bank (CIB) Egypt

Infrastructure deal of the year
Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway $1.46bn loan facility
Nedbank | Standard Chartered | TDB

Deal of the year – Equity
Privatisation of Afam Power Plc and Afam Three Fast Power Ltd
FBNQuest

Deal of the year – Debt
African Export-Import Bank, COVID-19 Support Facility
MUFG Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group

Award for financial inclusion
Trust Merchant Bank, DRC

African Banker Icon
Charlie Robertson, Chief Economist, Renaissance Capital

Finance Minister of the year
H.E Mohammed Benchaâboun, Minister for Economy and Finance, Morocco

Award for Innovation for Financial Services
Bank of Industry, Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme

Energy deal of the year
Nkhotakota Solar Power Plant in Malawi / 7.5 MW Solar PV Power Plant in Burundi
African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI)

Agriculture deal of the year
USD 400m Revolving Trade Finance Facility in favour of ETC Group
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)

African SME Bank of the Year
Ecobank

Best Regional Bank in Africa
North: Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco
West: Banque de Développement du Mali
East: Equity Bank, Kenya
Central: BGFI, Gabon
Southern: Mozabanco, Mozambique

Investment Bank of the Year
ABSA

Central Bank Governor of the Year
H.E. Lesetja Kganyago, Governor Reserve Bank of South Africa

Lifetime Achievement
Felix Bikpo

African Bank of the Year
Standard Bank Group

African Banker of the Year
Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO, Access Bank

For more on the African Banker Awards, please visit: www.africanbankerawards.com

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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Banking Sector

Fidelity Bank Promotes 745 Staff Members

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Nneka Onyeali Ikpe, Fidelity Bank CEO - Investors King

Seeking to increase staff morale while empowering them to work more efficiently, Fidelity Bank has announced the promotion of 745 employees following the performance review of two financial years – 2019 and 2020.

A total of 461 staff members benefited from the FY 2019 promotion exercise, while 284 staff members benefited from the FY 2020 exercise. The beneficiaries cut across the senior, middle, and junior management cadre of the bank, and the promotion was based on merit, using a transparent and robust performance management system in line with global best practices.

Speaking about this, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc said “I am very delighted to announce the promotions for 2019 and 2020 financial years. Releasing the list for 2 financial years’ promotion at the same time is something we are very proud of. We strongly believe that the continuous growth of our bank over the years has been largely attributed to the commendable efforts and unrelenting sacrifices of our employees. Promotion is one of the many ways we express our gratitude. We are thankful to be home to many amazing talents that continue to drive our value and most importantly, serve our stakeholders to the highest standards.”

Speaking further, she said. “Since I was appointed the MD/CEO of our great bank in January 2021, I have been committed to a 7-point agenda to move our bank further, out of which workforce transformation is a key category. Staff performance and reward are critical to us, and as an organisation, we will continue to make available adequate resources to deepen the skills and entrench a culture of high performance amongst employees. I wish to appreciate all members of the Fidelity Bank family for their commitment and drive and unrelenting sacrifices towards delivering our objectives. As we move forward in our quest to becoming a leading tier-one bank, I encourage all elevated staff to see their promotion as a call to rededicate themselves to excellence.”

Fidelity Bank has continued to empower its employees with invaluable resources capable of putting them at the forefront of innovative transformation. In March 2021, the bank announced two capacity-building projects – One Culture Project and Project Alpha – that were targeted at transforming the workplace for its staff. In particular, Project Alpha was created to help Fidelity Bank develop a robust and holistic learning and development framework for all staff while One Culture Project was formed to reinforce the behaviour and value systems that will help the bank, as well as staff, achieve set goals.

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Banking Sector

GCR Affirms Coronation Merchant Bank Limited’s National Scale Long and Short-term Issuer Ratings of A-(NG)/A2(NG); Outlook Stable

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coronation merchant app

GCR Ratings (“GCR”) has affirmed Coronation Merchant Bank Limited’s national scale long-term and short-term ratings of A-(NG) and A2(NG) respectively, with a Stable Outlook.

Rated Entity Rating class Rating scale Rating Outlook
Coronation Merchant Bank Limited Long Term issuer National A-(NG) Stable
Short Term issuer National A2(NG)

Rating rationale

The ratings of Coronation Merchant Bank Limited (“Coronation MB” or “the bank”) reflect its adequate funding and liquidity position, and sound asset quality metrics, as evidenced by the nil non-performing loans (“NPL”) since inception to date. However, these strengths are partly offset by the bank’s modest competitive position, significant loan book concentration and heavy reliance on wholesale funding from financial institutions.

Coronation MB is a strong player within the Nigerian merchant banking subsector based on its product/service delivery, loan portfolio and deposit mobilisation capacity relative to peers. Leveraging its long track record (having previously operated as a discount house for over two decades) and partnerships, the bank ensures consistent enhancement of its operational scale, particularly within the trade finance space. Reflective of its relatively small customer base and the trends across the merchant banking subsector, elevated concentration risk is perceived, with the twenty largest obligors and depositors constituting 85.0% and 75.4% of gross loans and customer deposits respectively at FY20. Also, the bank evidenced moderate market share within the Nigerian banking industry in terms of total assets, customer deposits, and loan portfolio, which are estimated at 0.8%, 0.7% and 0.7% respectively at FY20. Management & Governance is a neutral ratings factor.

Capitalisation is assessed at an intermediate level. The GCR computed capital ratio registered at 17.6% at FY20 (FY19: 19.8%) and expected to moderate to 16%-17% range over the next 12-18 month in view of the outpacing growth in risk weighted assets vis-à-vis internal capital generation. Earnings quality is considered ratings negative, reflected by revenue stability risk characterised by high source concentration and a material exposure to market sensitive income, which constituted a sizeable 42.5% of total operating revenue in FY20 (FY19: 41.3%).

Risk position is sound and a key ratings strength, underpinned by the bank’s nil NPL since inception to date and moderate credit losses of 0.2% at FY20, which broadly compared favourably with the industry average of about 3%. Initial assessments of the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic indicated that the bank will not be immune to the sector-wide challenges, which include asset quality concerns and slower loan repayments. However, this impact has thus far remained minimal, with the bank making no recourse to regulatory forbearance during the period. That said, we expect NPL and credit losses to remain at similar strong range over the rating horizon on the back of sustenance of stringent underwriting criteria and the macroeconomic environment recoveries. Conversely, the loan book is considered highly concentrated, with the top twenty obligors accounting for 85% of the loan book at FY20. While this is a rating constraining factor and typical of merchant banks in Nigeria, management expects this concentration to moderate somewhat over the short to medium term on account of the recent sectoral coverage expansion. GCR is also cognisant of the bank’s significant exposures to market risk considering the substantial market sensitive income realised in FY20.

Coronation MB’s funding base is considered adequate, predominantly bolstered by the debut N25bn subordinated unsecured bonds issued during 2020, as well as its improved deposit mobilisation capacity. As a result, the GCR long term funding ratio and stable funding ratio was robust at 80.8% and 73.1% respectively at FY20. While cognisance is taken of the sizeable (41.3%) growth in customer deposits in FY20, concentration risk is evident, with the top twenty depositors accounting for 75.4% of the deposit book, the bulk of which were from financial institutions. Positively, liquidity position is solid, with the GCR liquid asset covering wholesale funding and customer deposits by 3.9x and 53.1% respectively at FY20.

Outlook statement

The stable outlook reflects GCR’s expectation that Coronation MB’s asset quality metrics would remain sound despite the strains in the operating environment, albeit with the loan portfolio concentration by obligor remaining high. GCR calculated capital ratio is anticipated to moderate to 16-17% range over the next 12-18 month given our expectation that the outpacing growth in risk weighted assets vis-à-vis internal capital generation will continue to weigh down capitalisation metrics. However, GCR will positively consider a material improvement in core earnings over the rating horizon. While we anticipate liquidity to remain sound, diversification of the deposit book with a better mix of non-financial institution clients would be positively considered.

Rating triggers

The ratings could be upgraded if Coronation MB materially improves its core earnings and achieves a core capital ratio above 20% on a sustainable basis, while also maintaining sound asset quality metrics. In addition, GCR would positively consider a well-diversified loan portfolio and funding base. Conversely, a downward rating movement could be triggered by a material deterioration in GCR computed capital ratio to below 15% range, asset quality pressures and increase reliance on wholesale funding from financial institutions.

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Banking Sector

Fitch Affirms Triple A-rating of the African Development Bank, Outlook Stable

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fitch Ratings - Investors King

Global credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has affirmed the African Development Bank’s credit rating at ‘AAA’, with a stable outlook.

Fitch said the triple-A rating was driven by the ‘extraordinary support’ of the Bank’s shareholders.

Fitch views the Bank’s risk-management policies as ‘conservative’ and assesses them as ‘excellent’, in line with AAA-rated peers. “Concentration risk is ‘low’, with the bank’s five largest exposures accounting for 32% of total banking portfolio at end-2020.”

Bajabulile “Swazi” Tshabalala, Vice President for Finance and Chief Finance Officer of the African Development Bank, said: “The affirmation of the Bank’s triple-A ratings by Fitch, recognizes the very strong shareholder support our institution benefits from, as well as its strong capitalization and risk management capabilities. The affirmation also speaks to the importance of the Bank’s public policy mandate, particularly during these very challenging times.”

The global ratings agency assesses the Bank’s overall exposure to risks as “’Low’, balancing ‘Moderate’ credit risk with ‘Excellent’ risk management policies, ‘Low’ concentration, and ‘Very Low’ equity and market risks.”

Responding to the Fitch ratings report, African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said: “The African Development Bank welcomes the affirmation of the Bank’s ‘AAA’ rating, with a stable outlook, despite enormous challenges posed by Covid-19. The Bank will continue to enhance its policy and fiscal relevance in support of regional member countries, as they contend with the global and regional repercussions of the pandemic. While helping African economies reposition their economies in a Covid-19 environment, we will also maintain our prudential ratios and adequate buffers.”

The African Development Bank was recognized by Global Capital in 2020, for its highly successful $3 billion Fight Covid-19 social bond, one of the Bank’s many initiatives to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on African lives and economies.

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