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CBN Governor’s Statement On Management Change At First Bank of Nigeria

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Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has announced the reinstatement of Sola Adeduntan, as the managing director and chief executive officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

He also ordered the immediate removal of all directors of FBN Limited and FBN Holdings Plc.

Emefiele gave this directive during a media briefing on Thursday.

Here is the governor’s message in full.

1.0 Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

2.0 The media has been awash with commentaries on the purported management changes at First Bank of Nigeria Ltd (FBN) and the related regulatory inquiry by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the Board of First Bank of Nigeria Limited. It has therefore become necessary for me to address the public to clear any misconceptions.

3.0 Ordinarily the board is vested with the authority to make changes in the management team subject to CBN approval. However, the CBN considers itself a key stakeholder in management changes involving FBN due to the forbearances and close monitoring by the Bank over the last 5 years aimed at stemming the slide in the going concern status of the bank. It was therefore surprising for the CBN to learn through media reports that the board of directors of FBN, a systemically important bank under regulatory forbearance regime had effected sweeping changes in executive management without engagement and/or prior notice to the regulatory authorities. The action by the board of FBN sends a negative signal to the market on the stability of leadership on the board and management and it is in light of the foregoing that the CBN queried the board of directors on the unfortunate developments at the bank.
4.0 As you may be aware, FBN is one of the systemically important banks in the Nigerian banking sector given its historical significance, balance sheet size, large customer base and high level of interconnectedness with other financial service providers, amongst others. By our last assessment, FBN has over 31m customers, with deposit base of N4.2trn, shareholders funds of N618bn and NIBSS instant payment (NIP) processing capacity of 22% of the industry. To us at the CBN, not only is it imperative to protect the minority shareholders, that have no voice to air their views, also important, is the protection of the over 31m customers of the bank who see FBN as a safe haven for their hard-earned savings.

5.0 The bank maintained healthy operations up until 2016 financial year when the CBN’s target examination revealed that the bank was in grave financial condition with its capital adequacy ratio (CAR) and non-performing loans ratio (NPL) substantially breaching acceptable prudential standards.

6.0 The problems at the bank were attributed to bad credit decisions, significant and non-performing insider loans and poor corporate governance practices. The shareholders of the bank and FBN Holding Plc also lacked the capacity to recapitalize the bank to minimum requirements. This conclusions arose from various entreaties by the CBN to them to recapitalize.

7.0 The CBN stepped in to stabilize the bank in its quest to maintain financial stability, especially given FBN’s systemic importance as enumerated earlier. Regulatory action taken by the CBN in this regard included:

i. Change of management team under the CBN’s supervision with the appointment of a new Managing Director/ Chief Executive Office in January 2016.

ii. Grant of the regulatory forbearances to enable the bank work out its non-performing loans through provision for write off of at least N150b from its earning for four consecutive years.

iii. Grant of concession to insider borrower to restructure their non-performing credit facilities under very stringent conditions

iv. Renewal of the forbearances on a yearly basis between 2016 and 2020 following thorough monitoring of progress towards exiting from the forbearance measures
8.0 The measures had yielded the expected results as the financial condition of FBN improved progressively between 2016 when the forbearance was initially granted to the current financial year. For instance, profitability, liquidity and CAR improved whilst NPL reduced significantly.

9.0 Notwithstanding the significant improvement in the bank’s financial condition with positive trajectory of financial soundness indicators, the insider related facilities remained problematic.

10.0 The insiders who took loans in the bank, with controlling influence on the board of directors, failed to adhere to the terms for the restructuring of their credit facilities which contributed to the poor financial state of the bank. The CBN’s recent target examination as at December 31, 2020 revealed that insider loans were materially non-compliant with restructure terms (e.g. non perfection of lien on shares/collateral arrangements) for over 3 years despite several regulatory reminders. The bank has not also divested its non-permissible holdings in non-financial entities in line with regulatory directives

11.0 Following further review of the situation and in order to preserve stability of the bank, so as to protect minority shareholders and depositors, the Management of the CBN in line with its powers under BOFIA 2020 has approved and hereby directs:

i. Immediate removal of the all directors of FBN Ltd and FBN Holdings Plc

ii. The appointment of the following persons as directors in FBN Ltd and FBN Holdings Plc Holdco

1.Chairman – Remi Babalola

2.Dr. Fatade Abiodun Oluwole

3.Kofo Dosekun

4.Remi Lasaki

5.Dr Alimi Abdulrasaq

6.Ahmed Modibbo

7.Khalifa Imam

8.Sir Peter Aliogo

9.UK Eke – Managing Director Bank

1. Chairman – Tunde Hassan-Odukale

2. Tokunbo Martins

3. Uche Nwokedi

4. Adekunle Sonola

5. Isioma Ogodazi

6. Ebenezer Olufowose

7. Ishaya Elijah B. Dodo

8. Sola Adeduntan – Managing Director

9. Gbenga Shobo – Deputy Managing Director

10. Remi Oni – Executive Director

11. Abdullahi Ibrahim – Executive Director

12.0 The CBN hereby reassures the depositors, creditors and other stakeholders of the bank of its commitment to ensure the stability of the financial system. There is therefore no cause for panic amongst the banking public, given that the actions being taken are meant to strengthen the bank and position it as a banking industry giant.

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S&P: FBNH, FIRSTBANK BOARDS’ CHANGES ENSURED STABILITY

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S&P Global Ratings said changes to the boards of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and FBN Holdings (FBNH) Plc, recently directed by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), addressed the banking group’s corporate governance challenges and ensures the Nigerian banking sector’s financial stability.

In a statement, it stated that its ratings on FBN and other Nigerian banks remain constrained by shortcomings in corporate governance and transparency, among other factors.

The CBN recently replaced the entire boards of FBN and FBNH, and reinstated the former executive directors and CEO, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan.

The CBN had also requested FBN unwind certain exposures and divest from its participation in a non-permissible company, also pointing to potential corporate governance lapses at the bank.

“However, Dr. Adeduntan’s reinstatement and the re-appointment of the other executive directors underscores the CBN’s confidence in the existing management team to continue the turnaround of the third-largest banking group in Nigeria, which has total assets of Nigerian N7.7 trillion.

“We are of the view that the CBN’s historical approach has been more reactive than proactive, as illustrated by the Skye Bank episode. That said, recent actions, while disruptive in the near-term, may signal a more direct and possibly decisive supervisory approach to alleged failings in the management and governance of regulated institutions,” it stated.

It, noted that FBN’s overall credit profile has gradually stabilised since 2016, with a capital adequacy ratio of 17 percent in 2020, as against a 15 percent minimum requirement.

Similarly, the bank’s asset quality indicators improved significantly, with Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) reducing to 7.7 percent in 2020, from 20-25 percent since 2016.

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THE VOICE NIGERIA: FIRST BANK IMPRINTS IN ENTERTAINMENT, YOUTHS DEVELOPMENT

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By Israel Bolaji-Gbadamosi

One of the key metrics that well defines a truly 21st century brand beyond profit making is its ability to connect with customers and stakeholders as a complete enabler, touching on vital aspects of their lives, creating exciting memories and enabling them to access more enjoyable and convenient lifestyle, in shopping, studying, working, traveling, family living, entertainment and aspirations.

Its ability to also give back to the community through tangible corporate social investment programs that significantly translate to improved living and not just mere formality and publicity stunts is also pertinent.

First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is giving a good account of itself in this regard not only as a truly financial powerhouse but also as a life enabler, helping Nigerians live better and achieve their dreams.

In retrospect, banking, decades ago, was essentially about providing financial services and products to merely aid customers’ financial transactions. However, the smart ones are indeed changing the game. Not only is the envelope being pushed to ensure that the unbanked are banked through financial inclusion offers even to the remotest villages, FirstBank has taken banking to another level. Backed by superior technology firepower and capacity, it is assisting not only adults but also Nigerian youths to live better and fulfil their dreams.

The Nigerian nation and the most populous black nation of the world indeed has a youths bulge as observed by many experts with a growing army of young and vibrant people below 25 years of age constituting over 60% of its 200million population! While an unrelenting rate of unemployment, weak economy, soaring inflation and despair appear to dominate the national mentality, many youths are finding solace in entertainment, breaking the ceiling with their creative ingenuity, shunning out award winning hits and in fact making global headlines in music and other entertainment offshoots like movies, comedy skits and contemporary dance.

Nigeria’s 29 year old singer, Damini Ogulu popularly called Burna Boy in March shocked the world winning the world’s most coveted Grammy Award in the Best World Music category during the 63rd annual edition in Los Angeles Atlanta while another 30 year old Nigerian artiste, Ayo Balogun aka Wizkid was also a co-winner in the Best Music Video category for Beyonce’s Brown Skin Girl. These young Nigerian global music icons were raised and honed their skills in the suburbs of Nigeria through home grown competitions and platforms.

Music reality shows have also unveiled and nurtured music and entertainment talents like Timi Dakolo, Iyanya, Praise, Omawumi and other A-list musicians in Nigeria. This is why FirstBank’s intervention and sponsorship of a music and youths talents harnessing platform like The Voice Nigeria is strategic and instructive, and quite capable of helping to harness and nurture music and entertainment talents into celebrated musicians, make global stars of Nigerian youths, and truly help them achieve their dreams. Obviously, Firstbank has been a prominent force visibly empowering talents and the nation, and without the much-needed lifeline, many young talents would be taking to crime or other vices.

For over 127 years, the premier bank has been at the forefront of nation building; supporting through resourceful partnerships to build the Nigerian creative industry value chain which contributed 2.3 per cent (N239 billion) to Nigeria’s GDP in 2016 (NBS).

The bank’s support for the Voice Nigeria is also a demonstration of its commitment to contributing to the projected revenue of US$86m by 2021 from the Nigeria’s music industry aimed at promoting a diversified economy in line with the Federal Government’s diversification policy.

The bank assured that it has given voice to Nigerians for the past 127 years, and will continue to give voice to Nigerians by creating employment, economic empowerment in the country through its products, services and initiatives and it remains committed to strengthening the creative industry which is fast growing into a multibillion-dollar business, with potential to be a leading contributor to Nigeria’s GDP in the near future.

In fact, FirstBank has the network; reach and digital capability to enable the Voice. With its agent banking network across the nooks and crannies in country, it is helping in the search for the talent that will become a true inspiration to all.

True to the name, the Voice Nigeria has lived up to its promise, as it offers exciting and relaxing entertainment to families, music lovers, and other entertainment loving Nigerians who look forward to fresh seasons and episode of the well-crafted music program.

Now in its season 3, the Reality TV show has been a masterpiece in the last six episodes of the current season as viewers are serenaded by several awesome performances and display of raw talents on the show’s blind auditions which ended on Saturday, May 1. The episode ended with raging emotions, exhilarating sensations and blistering anticipation as the four judges – Falz The Bad Guy, Waje, Yemi Alade and Dare Art Alade had one final opportunity to forge their winning team.

So far, the coaches, hosts, producers and amazing talents have been a great delight to watch. They have been awesome with their good-natured banters, hilarious drama, top-notch fashion, electrifying opening performances, talent courting speeches, and chair turning and bell thumping spectacle. The optics is exciting! The expectation on the show has been so intense; you could cut with a butter knife. The coaches’ approach at winning talents over to their team has been fun and a fine blend.

There were no holds barred, as the judges were very warm, animated, upbeat, inspiring and full of energy. They were definitely not a team of avuncular examiners waiting to pass judgments. They brought much gusto and effect to the big stage! While Falz threw up his magical comic card severally, Dare maintained the cool dude posture while Yemi and Waje both brought on the alluring feminine appeal with Waje sometimes speaking in Igbo to convince a talent. In all, they fared well, each getting a fair share of talents to mentor and their combination depicted a perfect combo.

The talents on their part have not disappointed viewers. They came in different shades across both genders, with varying voice textures, mix and pitches – smooth, silky, velvet, shrill, husky, coarse or simply rough. And to the best of their abilities, they did justice to many songs, including some classic tunes and old hits. The creative fusion of multiple genres of music by some smart talents who beautifully delivered unique blend of music made good impressions which won the judges hearts. The awful looks on the faces of those who the judges would simply not behold, having failed to captivate their attention with the voice. The uncontrollable joy of those who got the bell ring and standing ovation and the incredible looks on their loved ones who came to show support. Not forgetting the jazzy presence and reassurances from the co-hosts including Toke Makinwa and Nancy Ikime which also complimented the soothing potpourri.

Interestingly, FirstBank made some smart moves on the show, with the bold inscription of “This is the moment you have been waiting for, Time to put You First”, clearly displayed at the entry of the contestant for the stage performance. This reinforces the bank’s thrust as an inspiration to motivate the talents and youths at large to excellence. It has also promised viewers mouth-watering prizes just by watching the show regularly and following updates on FirstBank verified social media handles.

Now that the Blind auditions stage has come to an end, it is game on! The next phase of the show is the highly anticipated Knockout Stage which starts on May 8. In this stage, the coaches will select the most outstanding talents to proceed to the battles. In this stage, there is so much to come and fans will certainly not be ready for all that is in store.

More than ever, the show’s fans are hopeful that the knockout stage will even be more entertaining but that will certainly not be a challenge with the dexterity of the handlers so far.

With all that has been seen so far, it is difficult to believe that this is only the beginning; it is certain that there is so much more to come.

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Listing On LCFE: Heritage Bank – Dukia Gold Set To Unlock N344trillion Market Worth Of Gold

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Heritage Bank for being part of valuable private sector collaboration with Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Co. Limited is set to unlock the over N344trillion market worth of gold investible instruments in the solid minerals sector with the concluded plans of being listed on the Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE).

This move that will entrench expand revenue in the non-oil sector through diversification, by stimulating growth in solid minerals in line with the objectives of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) will also put Nigeria on the global map with regards to standardized gold tracing, sourcing procurement and trading it.

L-R: Olawale Akoni (SAN), Managing Partner, Babalakin & Co; Olusegun Akanji, Divisional Head, Strategy & Business Solutions, Heritage Bank Plc; Ife Fashola, Group Chief Executive of KADARI Capital; Tunde Fagbemi, Chairman, Dukia Gold; Akin Akeredolu-Ale, MD of Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE) and Olusoji Elias, Council General, Dukia Gold, during the LCFE-Dukia Gold media parley held yesterday at the LCFE Trading Floor in Lagos.

In summary, this was disclosed at the LCFE-Dukia Gold media parley held yesterday at the LCFE Trading Floor in Lagos.

Speaking at the parley, the Chairman of Dukia Gold, Tunde Fagbemi who commended Heritage Bank as the project financier and for its other pertinent supports, said Heritage had so far been the banker’s bank for playing key role in backing to promote the first solid mineral listing on Exchange in West Africa.

Specifically, he explained that the instruments which would be in the form of Exchange Traded Notes (ETN), Commercial Papers (CP), and other gold-backed securities would enable the company to deepen the commodities market in Nigeria. He added that it would increase capacity, generate foreign exchange for the government to diversify external reserves and create massive employment across the metal production value chain.

“We are proud to be the first gold company whose products would be listed on the Lagos Futures and Commodities Exchange. The listing shall enable us facilitate our infrastructure development, expand capacity and create fungible products.

“This has potential to shore up Nigeria’s foreign reserve and create an alternative window for preservation of pension funds.

“As a global player, we comply with the practices and procedures of London Bullion Market Association and many other international bodies. “Our refinery will also have multiplier effects on the development of rural areas anywhere it is located. “There must be constant power supply, good road network and other social amenities, apart from employment opportunities for the rural dwellers,” Fagbemi explained.

He also noted that with its current 25 production capacity pound and further room for expansion, Dukia Gold has the ability to meet both local and international demand through its gold refinery services to smelt melts.

Commenting on the collaboration, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo said that the partnership was one of the many initiatives of the bank’s foundational objectives of wealth creation, preservation and transfer across generations.

He further disclosed that the bank offer the gold commodity market three focal contact point in partnership, knowledge and perspective sharing, which ensure that every transaction was auditable to protect investors.

Sekibo who was represented by the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, of the Bank, Olusegun Akanji, said the bank had created a buying centre for verification of quality and quantity of gold and reference price to ensure price discovery in line with the global standard.

Speaking, the MD, LCFE, Akin Akeredolu-Ale, who also commended Heritage Bank for its critical role in aiding the fundraising and the financier institution for the Dukia Gold’s diversified financial instruments, affirmed that this would enhance the company credibility rating and put Nigeria on the global map.

He noted that the LCFE was ready to support all the stakeholders in the gold sector in the areas of market creation, price discovery, and dissemination of market information, among others.

Gbenga Awe, Divisional Head, Agribusiness, Natural Resources & Project Devt., of Heritage Bank noted that one of the benefits of this initiative was that the local miners could now trade their gold at the bank’s designated experience centers, as solid foundation had been created for market, price and asset discovery.

Akintola noted that the firm had the capability, technicalities and the necessary accreditation to operate in the gold value chain.

He stated that the listing on the Lagos Commodities would raise awareness of performance of Dukia Gold to the investing world and position it as foremost number one Precious Metals Refining Company in Nigeria.

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