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The First Bank in Nigeria: Focus on First Bank of Nigeria Limited

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First Bank Of Nigeria

The First Bank in Nigeria

When discussing banks in Nigeria, it is virtually impossible to avoid mentioning the banking giant that is First Bank of Nigeria Limited, known as First Bank. It was the very first bank to be established in Nigeria. The bank is a force to be reckoned with across Nigeria, and has a solid reputation among citizens and residents of the country.

History of First Bank of Nigeria

The Bank was initially founded in 1894, by Sir Alfred Jones who was a shipping tycoon from Liverpool, England. The Bank had its first head office in Liverpool, but started business on a medium scale in Lagos, Nigeria under the name Bank of British West Africa (BBWA).

In 1912, the Bank obtained its first competitor, the Bank of Nigeria (previously known as the Anglo-African Bank) which was established by the Royal Niger Company in 1899. In 1957, the Bank of British West Africa (BBWA) became the Bank of West Africa (BWA). In 1966, the Bank underwent another name change after its merger with Standard Bank of the UK, adopting the name Standard Bank of West Africa Limited. In 1969, the Bank was also incorporated locally as the Standard Bank of Nigeria Limited, in accordance to the Companies Decree of 1968.

There were more changes to the name of the Bank in 1979 and 1991, with the 1979 change seeing the name turn to First Bank of Nigeria Limited and the 1991 change seeing the name become First Bank of Nigeria Plc. In 2012, the Bank went ahead to change its name once again to FirstBank of Nigeria Limited as part of a restructuring process which resulted in FBN Holdings Plc, after detaching its commercial business from other businesses in the FirstBank Group, in line with the new regulation established by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In December 2012, First Bank had great leaps. It had 1.3 million shareholders around the world, was quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) as one of the most capitalized companies, and also possessed an unlisted Global Depository Receipt (GDR) programme, all of which were transferred to the Bank’s Holding Company, FBN Holdings in December 2012.

The Growth and Operation of First Bank

The Bank built on its solid foundation and has consistently broken new ground in the local financial sector for over 120 years. FirstBank is currently present in the United Kingdom and France through its subsidiary, FBN Bank Limited with branches in the popular cities of London and Paris; and in Beijing with its Representative Offices there. In October 2011, the Bank purchased a new subsidiary, Banque International de Credit (BIC) which was one of the top banks in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In November 2013, the Bank went on to acquire ICB in countries like Sierra Leone, Ghana, Guinea and The Gambia before acquiring ICB in Senegal in 2014.

These acquisitions represented major landmarks in the Bank’s plan to grow its footprints in Sub-Saharan Africa, and all the African subsidiaries now carry the FBN Bank brand.

As the operating environment continues to evolve around the world, FirstBank keeps up with these changes as it continues to respond to the specific needs of its customers, investors, regulators, host communities, employees and other stakeholders. Through a balanced take on plan execution, the Bank has strengthened its leadership of the financial industry by maintaining an appeal which cuts across generations. This has made the Bank to further bolster its customer base which spans across different segments in terms of sectors, structure and size.

Through the usage of experience which spans across more than one hundred years of reliable service, FirstBank builds relationships and partnerships with vital sectors of the country’s economy which have been strategic building blocks for the growth, development and overall well-being of the country. With the Bank’s large asset base and wide branch network coupled with consistent reinvention, FirstBank is Nigeria’s strongest banking franchise, maintaining market leadership in all areas of the country’s financial services industry.

The Bank has more than 750 business locations across Nigeria, all of which operate online and in real time, the Bank possesses one of the biggest domestic sales networks in the country. As a leader of the market in the financial services sector, FirstBank led initiatives in international money transfer as well as electronic banking in the country, serving well over 14 million customer accounts.

The Bank’s strategy has been focused on restructuring the business to take proper advantage of growth opportunities within the financial services industry, following business line expansion across strategic business units, continuously implementing a systematic international expansion plan, and building synergies across the FirstBank Group.

In terms of international expansion, the Bank’s focus is the financial services markets in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa.

Important Milestones of First Bank

  • 1894 – Incorporated and Headquartered in Marina, Lagos as the Bank of British West Africa (BBWA)
  • 1912 – The second branch in Nigeria was opened by King Jaja of Opobo in Calabar, with a branch also opened in Zaria as the first branch in the northern part of the country
  • 1947 – BBWA gave the first long-term loan to the colonial government at the time
  • 1955 – Partnered with the government to expand railway lines
  • 1957 – Became the Bank of West Africa
  • 1966 – Became Standard Bank of West Africa Limited, after a merger with the Standard Bank of the UK
  • 1969 – Became locally listed as Standard Bank of Nigeria Limited
  • 1971 – Bank’s first listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange
  • 1979 – Became the First Bank of Nigeria Limited
  • 1991 – Became First Bank of Nigeria Plc
  • 1994 – Launched the first university endowment programme in Nigeria
  • 2012 – Became a Subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc.
  • 2013 – Completed the acquisition of ICB assets in Guinea, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Ghana as part of an expansion program

Leadership of FirstBank 

Chairman – Tunde Hassan-Odukale

Tunde Hassan-Odukale is a graduate of the University of London and City University, London. He joined the board of First Bank of Nigeria Limited as a Non-Executive Director in 2011, and is currently the Managing Director of Leadway Assurance Company Limited. His management experience spans over 22 years and includes asset management, finance, life insurance operations and IT.

Managing Director/CEO – Adesola Adeduntan

Dr. Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan has been the Managing Director/CEO of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and its Subsidiaries since January 1 2016. Before this, he was the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Bank since 2014 when he was given an appointment on the Bank’s board. He was a Director and the pioneer Chief Financial Officer/Business Manager of Africa Finance Corporation.

He has also served as a Senior Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer at Citibank Nigeria Limited, a Manager at Arthur Andersen Nigeria and a Senior Manager in the Financial Services Group of KPMG Professional Services.

Deputy Managing Director – Olugbenga Francis Shobo

Olugbenga Francis Shobo joined the board of First Bank of Nigeria Limited in 2012. He was formerly the Executive Director overseeing the Retail Banking/Public Sector businesses in the Lagos, West and South Directorate before his appointment as the Deputy Managing Director of the Bank. He is the first person to be given an appointment as the Deputy Managing Director of FirstBank in the Bank’s history which spans over 120 years.

Executive Director, Public Sector Group – Abdullahi Ibrahim

Abdullahi Ibrahim was appointed as an Executive Director at First Bank back in 2017. Prior to his appointment as Executive Director, he served as Group Executive Retail banking north from December 2012 until he was appointed as Group Executive, Technology and Services. He was the first Group Head, Manufacturing Group in the Institutional Group of the Bank.

Executive Director, Corporate Banking – Remi Oni

Remi Oni was appointed as the Executive Director, Corporate Banking in April 2016. Prior to his appointment, he was the Executive Director, Corporate & Institutional Banking for Nigeria and West Africa at Standard Chartered Bank.

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Banking Sector

Federal High Court Sets Date for Contempt Hearing in GTB vs. AFEX Loan Case

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has scheduled June 27, 2024, for the next hearing in the ongoing contempt suit filed by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTB) against directors of AFEX Exchange Commodities Limited.

The case revolves around a disputed N17.81 billion loan obtained under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

Presiding over the court, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke set the date following a session where arguments were presented by the plaintiff’s lead counsel, Mr. Ade Adedeji (SAN), and the respondent’s counsel, Prof. Olawoyin (SAN).

The core issue pertains to the alleged disobedience of a court order by the directors of AFEX Exchange Commodities Limited.

GTB, through its counsel Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), has accused AFEX and its directors—Ayodele Balogun, Jendayi Fraaser, Justin Topilow, Mobolaji Adeoye, and Koonal Ghandi—of contempt for failing to comply with a court directive.

The bank alleges that these directors did not appear in court as mandated, which led to the initiation of contempt proceedings.

During the latest session, Adedeji emphasized the necessity for the directors to appear in person, stating, “My lord, the parties in contempt are not in court. The contemnors cannot sit in the comfort of their homes and send a lawyer to court in contempt proceedings. The law is trite that they must appear before the court.”

In response, Olawoyin argued that he had only recently been briefed on the matter and was not fully aware of the prior developments.

He noted that some of the individuals listed as directors were no longer with the company, adding that one current director, Mr. Akinyinka, was present in court, while another was on pilgrimage.

The contempt case traces back to a suit marked FHC/L/CS/911/2024, where GTB sought to recover the loan amount through legal measures.

On May 27, Justice Aneke granted an interim Global Standing Instruction (GSI) injunction, which directs over 20 banks to transfer funds credited to AFEX into its account with GTB until the debt is settled.

Also, the court authorized GTB to take possession of AFEX’s 16 warehouses across seven states and sell the commodities stored within, as these were procured using the CBN’s loan facility.

The N17.81 billion loan comprises N15.77 billion in principal and interest outstanding as of April 17, 2024, and an additional N2.04 billion covering recovery costs and incidental expenses.

As the court prepares for the next hearing, the financial and legal communities are closely watching the proceedings.

The outcome will significantly impact not only the involved parties but also set a precedent for handling similar cases in the future.

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Banking Sector

CRC Credit Bureau Celebrates 15 Years with Record 14% Credit Penetration in Nigeria

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Retail Sales

CRC Credit Bureau Limited celebrated its 15th anniversary with a record 14% credit penetration rate.

The occasion was marked with the CRC Finance and Credit Conference 2024 held in Lagos, where key industry stakeholders gathered to reflect on the bureau’s journey and discuss future trends in credit risk management.

Founded in January 2010 and licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), CRC Credit Bureau has played a pivotal role in enhancing access to credit across Nigeria.

Dr. Tunde Popoola, the Group Managing Director/CEO of CRC Credit Bureau Limited, highlighted the bureau’s journey, noting that from its inception with a single product, CRC has expanded its offerings to 18 products covering all aspects of the lending value chain.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Popoola underscored the bureau’s contribution to Nigeria’s financial sector, stating, “CRC Credit Bureau has been instrumental in transforming access to credit in Nigeria over the past 15 years. We started with a vision to simplify credit access through reliable data and have since grown to serve millions of Nigerians.”

The event focused on the theme “Sustainable Financing Options: Innovations in Credit Risk Management,” emphasizing the importance of sustainable finance amid economic challenges.

The conference provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss strategies for mitigating risks and enhancing the efficiency of credit operations in Nigeria.

Reflecting on the current state of credit penetration, Dr. Popoola noted that while Nigeria has made significant progress, the 14% penetration rate still falls below global benchmarks.

He highlighted that CRC Credit Bureau currently holds credit scores for 33 million Nigerians, facilitating over 29.4 million searches in 2023 alone, with an additional 10 million searches conducted in the first quarter of 2024.

Joel Owoade, Chairman of CRC’s Board of Directors, acknowledged the economic headwinds impacting businesses in Nigeria but stressed the importance of sustainable financing to mitigate risks associated with lending.

“As we navigate economic fluctuations, sustainable financing remains crucial to fostering economic stability and growth,” Owoade remarked.

The conference also featured insights from industry experts on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in credit risk management and regulatory frameworks to support AI-driven innovations.

Olaniyi Yusuf, Managing Partner of Verraki, highlighted the potential of AI to create jobs and enhance economic productivity, calling for supportive regulatory environments that balance innovation with risk management.

Representatives from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) emphasized the regulator’s efforts to promote sustainable credit practices.

Dr. Adetona Adedeji, Acting Director of the Banking Supervision Department at CBN, outlined initiatives such as the National Collateral Registry and Global Standing Instruction aimed at enhancing credit access while minimizing risks.

As CRC Credit Bureau looks ahead, Dr. Popoola expressed optimism about the future, stating, “We remain committed to driving greater financial inclusion and expanding credit access in Nigeria. Our focus is on leveraging technology and strategic partnerships to deliver innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of consumers and lenders.”

The celebration of CRC Credit Bureau’s 15th anniversary underscored its pivotal role in Nigeria’s financial sector, marking a milestone in the nation’s journey towards broader financial inclusion and sustainable economic growth.

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Banking Sector

Guaranty Trust Holding Plans N500 Billion Share Offering

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Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCOPLC) has announced plans to raise up to N500 billion through a new share offering, according to a preliminary prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This move aims to support the company’s ambitious growth and expansion strategy.

GTCOPLC’s proposed offering will involve the subscription of ordinary shares of 50 kobo each, although the exact number of shares and the price range are yet to be determined.

The offering includes a concurrent filing of a preliminary universal shelf registration statement, allowing the company to issue various types of securities, potentially raising up to $750 million in multiple currencies.

Purpose of the Offering

The funds raised from this offering will primarily be allocated towards:

  1. Business Growth and Expansion: GTCOPLC plans to invest significantly in technology infrastructure to enhance its current operations. Additionally, the company intends to establish new subsidiaries and make selective acquisitions of non-banking businesses.
  2. Recapitalization of Guaranty Trust Bank Limited: Part of the proceeds will be used to strengthen the capital base of its banking subsidiary.

Target Investors and Structure

The offering is structured to attract both institutional and retail investors. It will be divided into two main tranches:

  • Nigerian Tranche: An institutional and retail offering aimed at eligible investors within Nigeria.
  • International Tranche: A private placement targeting qualified institutional buyers outside Nigeria.

Listing and Trading

GTCOPLC has also filed an application with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) to list and admit the new ordinary shares for trading on the NGX Official List.

The company anticipates opening the offering by July 2024.

Financial Strategy

The universal shelf registration will enable GTCOPLC to issue a variety of securities over time, with a total value of up to $750 million (or its equivalent in Nigerian Naira).

This approach provides the company with flexibility to raise capital in different markets during the programme’s validity period. The current proposed offering will be the first issuance under this new programme.

Regulatory Compliance

GTCOPLC emphasized that this notice does not constitute an offer of securities for sale in the United States or to U.S. persons, as defined under Regulation S of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933.

The offered shares have not been, and will not be, registered under the U.S. Securities Act or any state securities laws, and cannot be sold in the United States without proper registration or an applicable exemption.

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