ZENITH Bank PLC has been named Nigeria bank of the Year by the Banker, a publication of Financial Times of London. In a statement on its website, the Banker said: “Zenith has come a long way since it was founded in 1990. The bank, which had $17bn of assets at the end of 2012, is the largest in Nigeria based on Tier 1 capital, according to The Banker’s latest top 1000 rankings. By the same measure, it is the sixth biggest lender in the whole of Africa.
“Zenith’s performance in the past two years has been particularly strong. One of the banks to come through Nigeria’s 2009 financial crisis relatively unscathed, it made a record pre-tax profit in 2012 of N102 billion ($651m). This year looks even better. It posted profits before tax of N83 billion for the first nine months, up by 10.4 percent year on year. Analysts forecast it to earn about N106bn for the full year, which would amount to a return on average equity of close to 20 percent.
Godwin Emefiele, managing director, of the bank, said Zenith has managed to overcome these by making plenty of efforts to expand its loan book. It has also been growing its non-interest revenues. “Zenith’s results for 2013 are all the more impressive given the headwinds that Nigerian banks have faced recently. They have had to contend with falling interest rates on government bonds, at least in the first half of the year, and an increase in the levy they pay to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, a bad bank set up by the government amid the financial crisis,” he said.
Emefiele added that since the bank was established, it has invested in technology to improve customer service, something that has enabled it to grow its deposit base faster than most rivals. “We’ve always known we need strong technology to back up customer service. We will continue to do that.”
CBN on Arbitrary Bank Chardes
THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has announced that it had refunded N10 billion to commercial bank customers between 2012 and September 2013. Ibrahim Hassan, assistant director, consumer protection department, CBN, said the money was the arbitrary charges on customers’ accounts in the commercial banks.
He explained that CBN’s regulatory frameworks provided that erring banks be sanctioned. He urged customers who experienced arbitrary charges on their accounts to resolve the issue first with their banks before thinking of coming to the CBN. Hassan said the CBN would only intervene two weeks after customers had lodged complaints with erring banks.
He said there were testimonies from people who had benefited from CBN’s intervention. The assistant director, however, observed that only few Nigerians had embraced the financial inclusion policy of the bank. He said the reasons behind the resistance to the new financial and banking processes were due to past experiences with old banks.
“There is lot of sanctions the CBN applies to erring banks because there are rules and prudential guidelines to what banks should do and not do. The whole idea is to gain confidence and trust in the financial system. Our people are not benefiting from the financial system. We want to ensure that more Nigerians participate in financial inclusion so that they can benefit from it. Embracing it will lead to national economic growth,” he said.
ABOUT 150 staff of Enterprise Bank are in bleak Christmas. They were all laid off by the bank on December 2. The affected workers were part of the 250 staff nationwide pencilled down for rationalisation. Sources close to the bank said that the sack caught across all units of the bank. At some of the branches in the Lagos Island, workers who confirmed the rationalisation, said that it was the climax of apprehension that had enveloped workers in most of the branches. The source said that most of them were living in fear as the management could call on anybody any time to resign. Efforts to confirm the reasons for the retrenchment from the banks’ management proved abortive.
Emma Ilodianya, secretary, Association of Senor Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, ASSBIFI, who confirmed the sack, said that factionalisation of the union was affecting its capacity to get an urgent resolution of the crisis in Enterprise Bank. “The bank’s workers belong to a faction of the ASSBIFI that is affiliated to Trade Union Congress, while our own faction belongs to the Nigerian Labour Congress. I can only confirm to you that 250 workers were sacked by the bank, but we are not handling the issue from this end,” Ilodianya said.
One of the affected staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was retrenched without any tangible reason. He said that the management was sacrificing junior workers because of their refusal for their salaries to be reduced. Enterprise Bank, had on February 14, 2012, asked 150 of its workers to resign or face a sack without any reason. The Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, earlier in September, 2013, invited interested buyers to acquire 100 percent stake in the bank.
Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu
— Dec. 16, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT