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Economy

Ambitious SunTrust Bank Commences Operations

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SunTrust Bank

The management of SunTrust Bank Limited, one of the recently licensed commercial banks in the country officially opened its doors to customers Monday. The bank has a regional banking licence.

Speaking at the opening ceremony which attracted top government officials, politicians as well as traditional rulers in Lagos yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Mr. Muhammad Jibrin, said the bank was the first fresh banking licence to be issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since 2001.

Jibrin said SunTrust Bank started about six years ago as a mortgage bank, adding that the board and management were able to grow its balance to a reasonable size before they decided to pursue a commercial banking licence from the CBN which they got in September last year.

He said the bank would be a financial technology institution that would focus electronic channels by offering telephone, mobile and internet banking services.

“Banking is no longer where you go, it is what people do. Therefore, the only thing that can stand the future is no longer physical branches, but banking services that would be driven by technology. “So, most customers of tomorrow would no longer be the customers that they want to go to the banking hall. So, you need to be able to position the institution to respond positively to the needs and expectations of customers of tomorrow. That is at the heart of our own vision and strategy as tomorrow’s bank today,” Jibrin said.

In his presentation, the Chairman of the bank, Mr. Charles Onyema Ugboko, said establishing a bank amid the present economic situation showed that the board and management are committed to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

In his goodwill message, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu, urged the management of the bank to remain focused, even as he appealed to them to employ at least 30 per cent of Lagos indigenes.

Also, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, pointed out that going into business at this time when “everybody else is trying to get out of business, takes a lot of courage, and to go particularly into banking takes triple courage.

“But such occasion throws up opportunities to those who can see far and beyond. It is the courage of the founders of this bank that I want to applaud. If you are just coming in to be another bank, then it is not worth coming in.

“So, you have to come in as a bank with a difference. You must change the game. Service and quality should be your focus. I personally believe that the cost level of banks is very high, so if you can bring your own down, you will win,” the traditional ruler said.

On his part, the Lagos branch controller of CBN, Mr. J. Iyari, who represented the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, urged the board and management of the bank to keep to the rules and be good corporate citizen.

“The bank should try to create market niche, be special and be the bank of choice. I assure you that the CBN will continue to provide a level playing field for all operators in the financial services industry to support the growth and development of our country,” he said.

Also, the President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who was at the ceremony, commended the bank for taking such as abold step.

“As we speak here today, it might be easy for us to be overwhelmed by many challenges we face as business people. The lack of growth in the major economies of the world, the declining commodity prices in general, the weakness in our economy and the difficulty faced by the banking sector all over the world.”

“But throughout my business life, I have learnt that problems and difficulties are also great opportunities. People can make quite a lot out of difficulties and I think our difficulties in Nigeria today should be turned to opportunities. In this period, you need the courage to attack when others are retreating.

“As you know, in Lagos, we have many projects that we are doing and we are not retreating. We have continued to invest in this downturn, with expectation that our investment would actually pay a handsome reward as the cycle turns. I congratulate you for taking this step when banks all over the world are facing multiple headwinds. I am excited that their courage would be rewarded in the near future,” Dangote added.

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.

Economy

Waltersmith’s 5,000bpd Modular Refinery in Imo State to Commence Operations

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5,000bpd Modular Refinery Built in Imo State to Start Operations

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has said the 5,000 barrels per day Modular Refinery project built in Imo State is ready for operations.

Sarki Auwalu, the Director, DPR, disclosed this during a pre-commissioning visit to the project site in Ibigwe, Imo State.

In a statement released by Waltersmith, Auwalu was quoted as saying the purpose of his visit was to ensure that the refinery was ready to commence operations.

He said “We can confirm that the refinery is very much ready to commence operations. We have seen all the preparations.

“To us, the plant is alive. The commissioning is just symbolic. Everywhere is ready to start off. My overall assessment is excellent.

“We have been to other modular refineries but we have not seen anything like this – the space, the way it is arranged and the way it will work.”

The 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery is scheduled for inauguration this month. The refinery has crude oil storage capacity of 60,000 barrels and it is expected to deliver more than 271 million litres per year of refined petroleum products.

Auwalu said, “The role we play is to enable businesses and create opportunities. When DPR issues you a licence, it enables you to invest and as a result of that opportunity we create, that business is enabled.

“Waltersmith is one of our success stories. We consider the project as ours. We have been tracking their growth and we are happy to see that our child is growing. It is our plan that they expand and they have the potential.”

Speaking on the project, Abdulrasaq Isah, the Chairman, Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company, said the project is the first phase of a series of refinery projects that will lead to the delivery of up to 50,000 barrels per day in refining products.

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OPEC Fund, West African Development Bank Agree to Improve Corporation in West Africa

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OPEC Fund and West African Development Bank (BOAD) Agreed to Deepen Corporation in West Africa

The West African Development Bank (BOAD) and the OPEC Fund for International Development have signed an agreement to further deepen their development corporation in the member nations of the Western African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).

The member nations include Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte-d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

According to the statement released by the two organisations, the agreement reached will increase engagement and knowledge-shareing between the two institutions and ensures improved cooporation in terms of co-financing public and private sector projects.

The OPEC Fund and West African Development Bank (BOAD) boost cooperation in Western Africa

The agreement focuses on increased engagement and knowledge-sharing between the two institutions and ensures enhanced cooperation in co-financing public and private sector projects.

It will also support international trade and regional trade integration to enhance economic productivity in the region. It will help mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the region and strengthen the economy of the West African region.

Dr. Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, Director-General, OPEC Fund, who signed on behalf of the organisation said: “We are pleased to grow our partnership with BOAD to work together toward our common cause. West African countries have significant potential to increase trade flows and strengthen competitiveness which will drive growth, reduce poverty, and create new jobs in the region. The OPEC Fund’s global expertise, combined with BOAD’s strong regional presence, positions our two institutions well to help the region to weather the impacts of the pandemic and improve its competitiveness within the global economy.”

Serge Ekué, the President of BOAD, commended “the commitment and growing partnership between Africa and the OPEC Fund, which translated into support to BOAD for several decades now, thereby contributing to growth and sustainable development in the WAEMU member countries.” He added that the implementation of this framework agreement will help support the objectives of BOAD’s new strategic plan for 2021-2025, with the “aim of increasing the impact of its operations in terms of development outcomes by funding productive investments and creating jobs for youth and women, while focusing on micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), transport infrastructure and digitalization, agriculture and food security, energy, real estate, health and education.”

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Economy

More Stimulus is Welcomed – But What’s Needed is Smarter Stimulus

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UK EConomy contracts

Stock markets are cautiously upbeat that a stimulus package can be agreed in the U.S. before the November 3 election – but even if it does happen, it’s likely to be a “short-lived sticking plaster” that masks the major long-term issue: unemployment.

This is the warning from Nigel Green, CEO and founder of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organizations.

It comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke again on Tuesday – the deadline imposed by the Speaker – as the two sides try and strike a deal over another significant fiscal stimulus package ahead of the election.

Earlier this month, Republican senators slammed a $1.8 trillion offer made by the Trump administration to the Democrats as too big, an offer Ms Pelosi dismissed as “insufficient.”

Discussions are due to continue on Wednesday upon the Secretary’s return to Washington.

Nigel Green warns: “No doubt, a breakthrough of the deadlock that would allow for more stimulus would provide a lifeline to millions and millions of Americans.

“U.S. and global markets are, generally, cautiously optimistic that a deal can be agreed by the two sides.

“There’s a sentiment that something will have to materialize – and this is fueling markets.

“However, the window of opportunity is closing and it is not yet a done deal.

“If talks collapse, the markets will inevitably be disappointed and there’s likely to be a short-lived sell-off.”

He continues: “Even if Pelosi and Mnuchin can get another massive stimulus package agreed, and U.S. and global markets rise, this is likely to serve only as a sticking plaster.

“A market rally is going to be difficult to be sustained due to the enormous uncertainty created by other factors including the presidential election, a possible looming constitutional crisis in the world’s largest economy, and the growing Covid-19 infections in America and other major economies.”

The deVere CEO goes on to add: “Getting over the political impasse would help boost the economy and deliver much-needed money to Americans, but the major, lasting issue triggered by the pandemic remains: mass unemployment, which will hit demand, growth and investment.

“As such, a swift rebound for the U.S. economy is doubtful as unemployment claims continue to rise.

“That V-shaped recovery talked about by so many? That will be impossible with so many millions facing long-term unemployment.”

Whilst it is certainly positive that unemployment has fallen from 15% in the U.S. to 11% in recent weeks, it should be remembered that this is still at the same rate of the 2008 crash.

In addition, a second wave of soaring unemployment could hit imminently as some support measures wind-down and business’ and households’ savings and resources have been already run-down.

Mr Green concludes: “Near-term support for sure, but a long-term strategy – a multi-year vision – for growth and investment is essential.

“What’s needed is not just more stimulus, but smarter stimulus.”

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