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ACCESS, DIAMOND BANKS’ MERGER TO REVOLUTIONISE SECTOR

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***INCENTIVES REMAIN UNDISTORTED

The recent merger of Access Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc is a development that has attracted critical reviews, mixed expectations, and fears by industry experts and stakeholders alike. At the heart of such conversations are questions like: ‘Why the merger in the first place?’ ‘What happens to the shares of Diamond Bank, the offeree?’ ‘How do existing customers of Diamond Bank adjust to policies of Access Bank (since they obviously preferred those of the target bank in the first place)?’ ‘What are the gains for customers and shareholders in the new entity?’

Finding answers to the above questions and other equally legitimate concerns is key to understanding the ultimate impact of the merger for all stakeholders involved.

 

Why The Merger In The First Place?

When and wherever they occur, mergers are usually the outcome of a series of well-thought out, strategic business and economic decisions that have to do with creation of more wealth for shareholders and the need for increased market share in a competitive marketplace. Clearly, the Access/Diamond marriage is no exception to these age-long principles. As noted by the CEO of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, the combination of the two businesses will “create the largest retail bank in Africa by customer base” and a very significant player in the Nigerian financial market. According to him, the merger is “a huge step towards the delivery of our goal to bring the power of banking to millions of people across Nigeria and an exciting transaction for Access Bank and Diamond Bank’s customers, staff members and shareholders”.

On his part, Uzoma Dozie, Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank, in the wake of the announcement of the merger, assured all stakeholders that the move was a positive one for all Diamond Bank’s customers, employees, and shareholders. According to him, “customers will benefit significantly through the unrivaled combination of the best of Diamond Bank’s retail and digital leadership with the size of Access Bank’s balance sheet, corporate names and geographical reach”.

 

What Are The Gains For Stakeholders In The New Scheme of Things?

Unlike most mergers in the Nigerian banking sector over the years, the Diamond/Access merger represents a break from the norm because it is the coming together of two high-performing brands, both of whom have a track record of excellence. When two such brands come together, it can only mean one thing: better performance.

The big plus for the merger is the fact that there are no visible cause(s) for alarm on either part of the merging brands. Quite unlike the days of Savannah Bank and the many other forced acquisitions where banks liquidated and customers funds got missing or trapped, the case of Diamond bank is quite distinct with these advantages for customers, staff and shareholders:

(1) Safety of customers’ funds and guarantee for their existing banking interests.

(2) Protection of shareholders or investors interests.

(3) Strategic retention of staffers who ordinarily (in the case of sudden liquidation) would have been thrown back to the labour market.

 

What’s In It for Both Banks?

The announcement of the merger is an indication that Diamond Bank management has weighed all the value propositions of Access Bank’s bid and are convinced it will benefit them in the short and long term. Among other things, the key elements of this value proposition from both sides of the divide include the following:

–          Diamond Bank can hope to tap into Access Bank’s reputation in risk and capital management expertise while Access Bank will hope to maximize the advantage which lies in Diamond Bank’s retail banking expertise and digital banking solutions.

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–          By combining existing banking structure, we are looking at the emergence of a banking gaint with over 29 million customers (including more than 13 million mobile customers), 3,100 ATMs and 32,000 PoS terminals. Now, that’s massive.

–          Furthermore, the synergy of both capital bases such as Diamond Bank’s NGN1 trillion low-cost deposit base and that of Access Bank will invariably result in an improved deposit mix, improved access to capital markets and greater efficiency in treasury operations.

What Happens to Diamond Bank’s Shares?

When completed by the end of June 2019, the controlling shares will grant Access Bank the entire issued share capital of Diamond Bank in exchange for a combination of cash and shares in Access Bank via a merger scheme. Details of the cash and shares gains show that Diamond Bank shareholders will receive N3.13 per share, comprising N1.00 per share in cash (N23.1billion) and the allotment of two (2) New Access Bank ordinary shares for every seven (7) Diamond Bank ordinary shares (N6.6 billion) held as at the implementation date. The offer represents a premium of 260% to the closing market price of N0.87 per share of Diamond Bank on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”) as at December 13, 2018, the date of the final binding offer.

 

THE GOODNEWS :

Diamond bank numerous customers have nothing to worry about as their favourite products will remain unchanged, providing them the same value for their patronage or loyalty, products such as: Diamondxtra, Xclusive plus, HIDA (High-Interest Deposit Account), Diamond Business Advantage (DBA), BETA.

 

*Diamondxtra: This product offers tremendous opportunities to customers who stand chances of earning amazing interests on their savings. These benefits include monthly, quarterly and goes on for life. For instance, the Diamond Healthxtra Insurance Plan in partnership with Hubris Hmm Limited, a Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO) leaders in Nigeria, guarantees access to health with just #6,000 annually and other life-changing offers.

 

*The Xclusive Plus: Designed for the affluent customers, this product helps the customers have the Affluent Visa Signature Card in order to access VIP club airport services in more than 1000 VIP lounges at airport around the world: access networking opportunities at various seminars and conferences organised by Diamond bank. The VIP treats are equally open to the ‘VIP’ customer at great malls.

 

* High-Interest Deposit Account: This is another interesting banking amazement from the stables of Diamond Bank which helps customers save for the rainy day or a project, even while enjoying regular banking interests. This suggests that though the deposit account saves the amount for a period of time, the customer can access interests on a monthly basis to run his/her life. Here, with HIDA, the more you save, the more competitive interests you earn. It builds a saving culture or spirit as the account does not come with a debit card.

 

*The Diamond Business Advantage: This package provides solutions to help grow your business, such as website creation, capacity building forums cum advisory services etc. These are some of the windows offered customers by Diamond bank towards helping emerging businesses stabilise and exist competitively.

 

*BETA Savings Account: Beautifully created to facilitate the businesses of traders, mostly retailers who have daily need for ‘market money’, this Diamond account is cheap, easy and customer-friendly, especially as it does not require rigorous documentation, the reason it is called ‘NO WAHALA’ account.

 

 

The Big Picture

In the final analysis, fears, and expectations aside, all customers, staff and shareholders of both banks must now focus on what the big picture of the merger and the value proposition of two successful brands fusing into one. Historically, wherever Access Bank operates, the ensuing relationship has led to the birth of better returns across the value chain of the emerging company, the endgame being better service delivery for customers and better Return on Investments (ROI) for shareholders.

 

Conclusion

Everything about this merger looks good as the parties involved continue to tick the different boxes in the phased process. On the management integration side of the deal, there are sufficient grounds to believe that the workforce of both financial institutions would not suffer from the staff layoffs that usually characterize mergers and acquisitions when they become fully operational. Hopefully, the management of the fused banks led by Access Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Wigwe, will learn from the widespread criticisms that followed Intercontinental Bank’s acquisition in 2012. Hopefully, too, the coming together of these big industry players to form Africa’s mega retail bank will be a move in the best interest of everyone involved. Against the widespread reports of the new merger and fears that the banks’ depositors’ funds would be compromised, the managements have offered reasons for what they termed the emergence of the first mega retail bank on the African continent.

 

Therefore, customers are at the heart of the decision to create one of Nigeria’s leading banks. The combination of Access Bank and Diamond Bank will result in real benefits. The products and services that Diamond Bank’s clients enjoy, including its commitment to digital innovation, will continue unchanged and will be backed by Access Bank’s own commitment to customers, financial inclusion and sustainability, and the bank’s corporate expertise and strong balance sheet.

Together, we will bring the power of banking to millions across Nigeria, focused on speed, service, and security. We are determined to ensure that both Access Bank and Diamond Bank customers will experience no disruption to normal banking services while we join forces to create Nigeria and Africa’s largest retail bank by customers. While there may be some changes in due course, we are committed to informing you ahead of time and in a way that is most convenient for you.

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FIRSTBANK PARTNERS EVENTFUL TO SUPPORT SMEs IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY

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Fashion

As part of efforts to provide access to market and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Small Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) of the fashion industry, First Bank of Nigeria Limited partnered with Eventful Nigeria Limited on its event, fashion souk, a platform that creates an opportunity for players in the fashion industry to exhibit and sell their wares to the thousands of event participants.

The Runway

Speaking at the event held in Lagos recently, the Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communication, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, said the bank has over the years, since its founding, been very supportive of the entrepreneurial space and SMEs, adding that the role of the bank is that of an enabler.

“FirstBank has been involved in every sector of the economy since 1894, so if you think about that there is no sector we have not been involved in, in fact this particular fashion souk, we are the pioneer sponsor and we sponsored it right from when it started.”

Zaccheaus, Osibanjo and Ibru

Ani-Mumuney explained that the fashion industry over the years has grown incredibly and added that it has helped to grow other businesses.

According to her, “Just like Nigerian music, the fashion industry is still in its infancy. We have great talents and potential in the fashion industry. Let’s consider the developed fashion industry of Italy for instance and the entire value chain of fashion, it tells you that there is a lot to be done. We still need to have fashion zones in core Cities and States, so that within a particular zone, you could have the cutters, button hole creation and others.

“The great thing is that we have a market here, but beyond that is that we could easily become the fashion hub for Africa, especially its export across continents. The fashion industry is diverse and versatile with many roles carried-out by individuals with uniquely different skill-set. Some persons could focus on finishing; some could focus on sketching, garment making and other areas. Indeed, Nigeria are fashion freaks, with a large and diverse market.

Also at the event was Nollywood actor and producer Kunle Afolayan whom had his clothing line Ire Clothing, displayed. Afolayan, the Chief Executive Officer of Ire Clothing said he started the clothing line with just the Kunle Kembe, and presently, it has expanded to about five, six collections.

He also stated that what inspired Ire clothing is because of his love for arts and anything that deals with the Nigerian cultural heritage and helps to document culture, “so with Ire clothing, we use Africa fabrics, Anakara, Adire and others.”

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Afoloyan explained that he has modified the old Yoruba Kembe style to something that is now pop culture so that the younger generation can also wear it, adding that there are T-shirts and Kunle’s Dansiki which is a bit smaller than the traditional Dansiki, and face caps.

According to him, “The brand story we are trying to tell is that we want people to embrace their own culture and tradition; use it to their advantage and use it to the world. I think the fashion industry is striving and it’s been here for a very longtime and it is doing better because a lot of our people are exporting our clothing abroad.”

In his remarks, veteran comedian, Atunyota Akpobome, popularly known as Ali baba, said the fashion souk is a platform of opportunities and a collage of business ideas, providing a platform for people to network and express business innovations.

According to Ali baba, “To expand the frontiers of the fashion industry, there is need for exposure and the social media is helping a great deal to improve the employment needs of Nigerians. Once the employment statistics increases there will be higher purchasing power and people will tend to invest and spend more in fashion. In a country of about 200 million people, one should be able to do one million sales in months. But I think we will get there someday. We need to grow our textile industry and revamp the textile companies, which implies that we have to revive the production of cotton so that players in the industry can have access to raw materials, thereby cutting down production cost.”

Also speaking at the event, popular television presenter and model, Uti Nwachukwu, expressed satisfaction with the event, commending the organisers for creating an avenue to convene fashion vendors under one roof to provide their wares at discounted and affordable rates, while giving customers the opportunities to patronize their brands.

He further stated that the fashion souk gives the vendors an opportunity to showcase what they have to sell and creates opportunity for them to advertise their products.

Nwachukwu added: “A lot of vendors and customers here are happy. It is a give and take situation that works well. The fashion industry in Nigeria is the most underrated industry; there is so much potential, and greatness in the fashion industry.

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“We have great designers that will shine in any part of the world. It is a great gesture the bank is making by supporting the industry. I just wish the bank can help these designers to get to international level of exposure. Our designs are wonderful, African prints are in fashion in different parts of the world. Finance and exposure are the key challenges facing the industry, if it is properly addressed, things will work out well.”

About FirstBank

 

First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is the premier Bank in West Africa and the leading banking services solutions provider in Nigeria for 125 years. With some 15 million customer accounts, FirstBank provides a comprehensive range of retail and corporate financial services with over 750 business locations. The Bank has international presence through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, FBNBank in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Senegal, as well as a Representative Office in Beijing.

Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership. Over the years, the Bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation schemes. With its global reach, FirstBank provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner.

FirstBank has been named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” six times in a row (2011 – 2016) by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group; “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for seven consecutive years (2011 – 2017) by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards and “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance for 15 years. Our brand purpose is to always put customers, partners and stakeholders at the heart of our business, even as we standardise customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across sub-Saharan Africa, in consonance with our brand vision “To be the partner of first choice in building your future”. Our brand promise is to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on our inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position You First in every respect.

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Zenith Bank Launches Style By Zenith 2.0

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Zenith Bank

Leading financial institution, Zenith Bank Plc, has announced the launch of Style by Zenith 2.0.

Style by Zenith 2.0 is the second edition of its flagship lifestyle fair dedicated to intentionally celebrating the ‘small’ things that make ‘big’ differences in our lives.

The concept which was first launched in 2018, was created with the objective of supporting and creating value for customers by focusing on various aspects of their lifestyle.

This year, Style by Zenith 2.0 themed “Style the Life you Desire” is aimed at encouraging Nigerians to live their best lives and be extraordinary. The platform seeks to inspire people to be authentic while showing them that with ordinary talent and extraordinary effort they can thrive and make a real change in this world.

Speaking on the rationale behind Style by Zenith 2.0, Executive Director of Zenith Bank Plc., Dr Temitope Fasoranti, said: “Banking, for Zenith Bank means going that extra mile to be present in the lives of our customers. Driven by a culture of excellence and providing cutting edge solutions, the bank is championing this cause to enable individuals and businesses to grow wealth.”

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He added that “beyond providing financial solutions, Zenith Bank Plc seeks to be a reliable partner to her customers, ensuring that they excel on every front. With Style by Zenith 2.0, the bank continues in her commitment to empowering individuals and entrepreneurs by celebrating real talents. We will be helping people do what they know how to do best and repositioning them for greater levels of success in their various endeavours.”

This year’s programme includes an interesting line up of activities all culminating in the 3-day Lifestyle Fair taking place at the end of 2019.

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Kicking off the array of activities is the Style by Zenith 2.0 Fitness Walks to be held in conjunction with Mass Medical Missions, a non-profit organisation, and Venus Medicare Ltd, a leading health management organisation in the country.

The fitness walk will serve as a platform to promote Mission Pink Cruise – a project of Mass Medical Missions supported by Zenith Bank, aimed at taking holistic cancer prevention and health promotion to various communities across the country using Mobile Cancer Centres (MCC) nicknamed Pink Cruises, the first of its kind in Nigeria.

Scheduled to hold in August, these fitness walks and cancer screening exercises will hold in five cities across Nigeria – Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Onitsha.

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FIRSTBANK PROMOTES FINANCIAL INCLUSION THROUGH DIGITISATION IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

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Cashless

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced its organisation of a Joint Seminar with sub-Saharan African Banking and Telecom Regulators to promote financial inclusion through digital innovations in sub-Saharan Africa. The event which was held in Lagos recently was themed “Advancing ePayment and Digital Innovations in Africa- Evolution of Nigeria’s Payment Systems”.

The seminar was organised to provide key officers of regulatory authorities in these Markets – notably locations with FirstBank subsidiaries; Ghana, Senegal, DRC, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – a platform to get familiar with developments in the Nigerian Payment Systems and Digital Products Industry thereon replicating and adopting the learnings from the seminar with a view to bolster the finance industry in their respective countries.

Key players and regulators in the finance and digital banking ecosystem at the event included: Agada Apochi, Managing Director/CEO, Unified Payment Services Ltd; Mike Ogbalu, CEO, Verve International; Musa Jimoh, Deputy Director, Payments System Policy and Oversight, Central Bank of Nigeria; Premier Oiwoh, Managing Director, NIBSS; Bashirat Odunewu, Group Executive, International Banking Group, FirstBank and Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited amongst others.

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Speaking on FirstBank’s leading role in promoting digital banking and financial inclusion across the country, Adeduntan said, “FirstBank by any measure has been a success story as far as digital banking is concerned. Today, we have more than 8.5million people on our USSD *894# banking platform, more than 3 million people on our Firstmobile platform. We are the only Bank in Nigeria that has issued cards in excess of 10 million in Nigeria. When you are looking at that institution that has achieved a lot in terms of digital payment, it is FirstBank. More than 80% of our transactions are carried out on our digital channels.”

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“We have been very aggressive with our FirstBank Agent Banking network. Today we have over 27000 agents spread across the nooks and crannies of the country, indeed second to none as far as Nigeria is country. At FirstBank, the economic growth and development of our host communities is important to us; assisting Nigeria and the continent at large address poverty is very imperative and that is why for us financial inclusion is a key part of our business strategy.” he concluded.

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