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FG Did not Mortgage Property for China Loan – Amaechi

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The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said on Monday that the Nigerian government did not mortgage any property to secure infrastructural loans from China.

Mr Amaechi made the clarification at the 6th Annual East African Transport Infrastructure conference held in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to Mr Amaechi, Nigeria did not offer China any such comfort because the country has the ability to repay the loan.

There were reports that countries such as Sri Lanka, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, among others are facing pressure of forfeiting their infrastructure to China over unpaid debts.

“I don’t know the arrangement these countries made with China-Exim bank, I do not think we will have any problems with repaying our loans. The countries that they are talking about are Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.

“These are some of the countries that have not been able to repay their loans I think. So what China is doing is that, it is taking over to manage and get its money, but it’s not so in Nigeria.

Mr Amaechi said debt default by some countries is affecting Nigeria’s plan to borrow more from China.

“We are talking with them, to say that by June, we should be able to say this is our repayment plan. It also depends on what agreement plan you have with them. Our agreement does not include the fact that they will come and take over our seaports or railways or airports.

“We believe that we can pay back using our own money. That shouldn’t be any problem. Our focus should be to run this infrastructure efficiently so we can pay back and there is no plan for them to manage any of it,” he stated.

According to him, China is the only country that can give out loan for infrastructure. He claimed developed countries also borrow from China.

“If you don’t go to China, who will give you money? America is going to China even Russia. What is wrong if Nigeria goes to China?

I think we should not be afraid of China.

“Nobody runs railway with passenger fares. You can never get one Naira out of it. Nigerians think railway is just to carry passengers but the problem is that the goods that should be on the rail are the ones on the road and they are destroying the roads.

“Once we conclude the rail projects and those goods are transferred to the rail, that is when we will start making money to pay our debts.

“Currently our trains are carrying passengers. People are celebrating Lagos-Ibadan because they are looking at it that “oh, I’ll just jump into the train and one hour after, I’m already in Ibadan”.

“That’s not the overall aim. The reason the federal government said we must get to the seaport is to decongest the Apapa seaport.

That’s where the money lies,” he noted.

(NAN)

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Investors Laud Fidelity Bank’s Consistent Growth Rate

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Fidelity Bank Nigeria has recorded an average annual profit growth of 64 per cent over the past three years, underlining its resilience as one of Nigeria’s fastest growing companies.

The bank has also seen rapid expansion in customer base and assets as total balance sheet size leapt from N2.1 trillion to N6.2 trillion, the sixth largest in the Nigerian banking industry. The balance sheet was driven by a hefty total deposit of more than N4 trillion, equally the sixth biggest in the industry.

A review of the audited reports and accounts of Fidelity Bank between 2023 and 2020 showed double-digit growths over the years with Cumulative Average Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in earnings, profitability and assets significantly above average industry rate and within the best performance among publicly quoted companies.

Average annual profit growth rate of 64 per cent underscores Fidelity Bank’s fundamental strength as an inflation-hedging investment. The operational growth strengthens the overall return outlook of the bank, which share price has delivered an average annual capital gain of more than 100 per cent in five years at the stock market.

Several experts’ reviews have said the bank’s strong historical performance is a major attraction for its ongoing combined rights and public offer.

Fidelity Bank is offering a rights issue of 3.2 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N9.25 per share. The bank is also simultaneously offering 10 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each to the general investing public at N9.75 per share.

The acceptance and application lists for the rights issue and public offer, which opened on Thursday, June 20, 2024, are scheduled to close on Monday, July 29, 2024. The rights issue has been pre-allotted on the basis of one new ordinary share for every 10 existing ordinary shares held as at the close of business on Friday, January 05, 2024.

Fidelity Bank’s gross earnings rose successively from N206 billion in 2020 to N251 billion, N337 billion and N556 billion in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively, representing average annual growth of 39 per cent. Profit before tax has grown consecutively from N28 billion in 2020 to N124 billion in 2023. Profit after tax jumped from N26.65 billion in 2020 to N99.45 billion in 2023. Earnings per share has also grown from 92 kobo in 2020 to N3.11 in 2023, showing the headroom for increased dividends to shareholders.

The bank’s profitability has been driven by continuous increase in market share, a strong commitment to national economic growth with supports for businesses and high customer trust.

Fidelity Bank’s total assets has grown successively from N2.11 trillion in 2019 to N2.76 trillion in 2020 and consecutively to N3.28 trillion, N3.99 trillion and N6.23 trillion in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively. Shareholders’ funds have also grown successively from N234.03 billion in 2019 to N273.53 billion, N285.29 billion, N314.36 billion and N437.31 billion in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Total deposit has grown by an average annual growth of 33 per cent from N1.7 trillion in 2020 to N4.02 trillion in 2023. A breakdown underlined a strong customer confidence with low-cost deposit accounting for 97.4 per cent of total deposit.

Low-cost deposit has grown at a faster CAGR of 44 per cent over the period, rising from N1.31 trillion in 2020 to N3.91 trillion in 2023. Savings accounts had also doubled over the period from N424 billion in 2020 to N881 billion in 2023, representing average annual growth rate of 28 per cent.

Fidelity Bank has more than 8.0 million customers, with 5.1 million of these customers on digital channels, underlining the strength of the bank’s robust information and communication technology.

As customers increasingly entrust the bank with their funds, Fidelity Bank has also shown equally aggressive commitment to national economic growth with average annual growth of 32 per cent in net loans.

Net loans have grown successively from N1.32 trillion in 2020 to N1.66 trillion, N2.12 trillion and N3.09 trillion in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively. The above average growth in loans shows Fidelity Bank’s famed supports for Nigerian businesses. The bank’s loans portfolio is the fifth largest in the Nigerian banking industry.

A frontline industrialist and a customer of the bank, Founder of KAM Holding, Dr Kamoru Yusuf, said Fidelity Bank has been exceptional in supporting the development of Nigerian companies.

Yusuf, whose group has metamorphosed into a global business conglomerate operating in three countries across two continents, confirmed that KAM Holding has benefited immensely from financial supports from Fidelity Bank.

He said investing in Fidelity Bank will be an investment in the growth of Nigerian economy and companies like KAM Holding, the nation’s largest wholly indigenous metal and steel production company.

He underlined the relationship between increased capital for a business-focused bank like Fidelity Bank and the overall development of the Nigerian economy.

There are strong indications that the bank will sustain its impressive growth record in the years ahead. Already, interim report and account of the bank for the first quarter ended March 31, 2024 showed that the bank started the current business year on stronger footing with three-digit growths across key performance indicators.

The three-month report showed that gross earnings increased by 89.9 per cent to N192.1 billion in first quarter 2024. The bank’s top-line performance continued to be driven by broad-based growths across income lines with interest income rising by 90.7 per cent and non-interest income growing by 84 per cent in first quarter 2024.

Growth in interest income was primarily spurred by a higher yield environment and strong earning assets base, while the increase in non-interest income was led by double-digit growth in account maintenance charges, foreign exchange (forex)-related income, trade, banking services, and remittances, supported by increased customer transactions.

Profit before tax doubled by 120 per cent to N39.5 billion in first quarter 2024 as against N17.9 billion in first quarter 2023. The bank’s performance was driven by expanding market share with total deposit rising by 17 per cent within the three months to N4.7 trillion, compared with N4 trillion recorded at the end of 2023.

The bank also increased its supports for national economic growth with net loans and advances rising by 21 per cent from N3.1 trillion at the end of 2023 to N3.7 trillion by March 2024.

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With Giants Campaign, FirstBank is Truly Woven into the Fabric of Society

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The ‘Giant in you’ campaign of the FirstBank has again confirmed the common expression that ‘apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ given the history of the financial brand and its legendary relevance to the growth of enterprises, within and outside Nigeria. 

In its usual creative conjecture, 13O-year-old FirstBank, has hit the airwaves and other media outlets with various visuals to articulate its new campaign ‘The Giant in You’. Breaking down the central message, ‘there is a giant in you’ the campaign stylishly reminds the bank customer that ‘FirstBank Puts You First so you can’ before giving the match order, ‘Live the Giant-Life.

For a bank that settles for the big ‘elephant’, as logo and has remained strong for 130 years, worlds like giant, tall and strides, used in the various visuals are simply validations of its robustness, endurance, doggedness and tall ambition. As part of the ways to convey the bank’s message to its array of patrons, SO&U, the creative agency behind the campaign cleverly selected its cast and buildings, including FirstBank’s corporate headquarters, to reflect the bigness, the tallness and the boldness of the 130-year-old financial institution to rule the world as far as banking and business support are concerned.

Unraveling the ‘Giant’ strides…

Among other reasons, the new campaign must have been conceptualized to position FirstBank as a ‘giant’ and ‘future-ready’ institution that is dependable, innovative and proactive in supporting its customers and stakeholders win in the race to the future and be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities of that emerging future.

Driven by the conviction that  consumers want to turn their big dreams into giant successes, the new campaign reminds the consumer that in today’s world of constant disruptions and integrated experiences, the customer needs a strong, stable and supportive partner, with the appropriate platforms, innovative solutions and networks to not only support their aspirations but also be responsive and adaptive enough to anticipate their needs and empower them to success.

Looking through the visuals and the television commercial, it’s easy to conclude that the campaign narrative is not about the brand but the customer. For instance, the creative path illustrates the world as it moves and changes at lightning speed, the customer is reminded that just like the world, everything within it is also changing, from economies to businesses and even opportunities.

“We recognise that to be in sync with the world will require a forward thinking and future ready mindset …and we have created the atmosphere, products and services to help our customers,” the bank stated.

To underscore ‘the big idea’ and the ‘bringing out the Giant in you’ theme, key visuals speak to the essence of the campaign and are accompanied with long and straight legs in a demonstrative form to take the purported giant step. Here the messages are passed under the following; ready to take giant strides?, strides into the future, let’s take giant strides together, stand tall, stand out, think giant solutions, among others.

Facts and figures…

 Like Coca-Cola, the world number one brand, one other thing that has consistently worked for the FirstBank brand is that the promoters have never, for once allowed complacency to set in. The implication of this is that the bank is not only the oldest, but also one of the most digitally compliant banks.  Currently, First Bank stands tall via First Bank digital solutions, employs market-leading digital platforms and solution driven products and services. Besides, the use of AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) by the bank enables the financial brand to initiate 85 percent of its transactions via digital platforms leading to quick responses to customers’ needs and satisfaction. In this regard, FirstBank has been recognised by Interswitch as the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve 100 million sustained monthly transactions in electronic payment and it has hit N1 trillion transactions through the FirstMonie Agent network.

Speaking during the unveiling of the new thematic brand campaign, Head, Brand and Stakeholder management at FirstBank, Yinka Ijabiyi, reiterated that FirstBank came up with the new campaign because of its belief that there is a ‘giant’ in every customer, every employee and every stakeholder. He said, “This campaign was informed by our belief that there is ‘giant’ in every stakeholder a giant dream, a giant possibility, a giant idea, a giant life and a giant future waiting to be birthed. Our commitment is therefore to provide all necessary business support, financial know-how and platforms to bring out the giant in every customer,”

Ijabiyi further pointed out that the campaign was conceptualised by the bank in a bid to show customers in its 130 years, that it has been supporting and creating giants and that it has no plan to stop anytime soon. He said the bank, in its celebration of its 130 years in business, came up with a campaign that speaks to the business essence of its brand which is making giants of its customers. “We have always done it and the fact we have been around for such a long time means good to everybody as we have been supporting businesses, individuals and government in those years. “We are making giants and there is no business that interacts with us that does not see the benefits in their business. We are making giants in our customers and we will not stop.

“We are the partner with tailored solutions for every customer, employee, and stakeholder. We have what it takes to turn dreams into giant successes. FirstBank’s services are designed to help customers “giant-size” their dreams, offering businesses the platforms and solutions needed to grow, innovate, and achieve remarkable success.” Ijabiyi added that the array of products, solutions and services offered by FirstBank cannot be compared with any financial services in Nigeria.

For its customers, the bank said “We would enable, inspire and support you with our world of financial services to help you to giant-size your dreams and live your best life”. It also said it “would give businesses and business owners the right platforms and solutions they need to grow, initiate and execute bold ideas.

Meanwhile, the creative agency behind the campaign has hinted to the media that the unveiled materials were mere ‘tip of the iceberg’ as efforts are ongoing to domesticate the same campaign in local languages to connect with customers across the major ethnic groups in Nigeria.

A peep into the past…

 When the promoters said First Bank was “truly the first, many grudgingly agreed. But deep inside its competitors – the possible grudging camp – is the truth regarding the extreme distance the bank has given others in performance and people relevance of its operations! They knew the bank was not bluffing. Not only has it rediscovered itself, but the ability to shed its ancient mindset in terms of operations and blend with modern trends in banking have left many agreeing that perhaps, the saying that the older the wine the better it gets in taste actually applies to FirstBank. To this end, it’s not by accident that First Bank has produced at least two former governors of the CBN and a Finance Minister, including Chief Joseph Sanusi and the current Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Perhaps the current campaign is an offshoot of a story-telling Television Commercial, by the bank to reflect the beginning of modern banking and how the bank has consistently grown with Nigeria’s enterprises through partnership and innovation.

The referenced TVC says it all: A combination of historical renaissance and quite prescient validation of the innovation that usually drives its bewitching communicational ads. From the groundnut pyramids of the north, which was the symbol of the regions commercial edge and the cocoa bean mountains of Western Nigeria to the rubber plantations of the East and Mid-eastern region, First Bank has applied its new campaign to remind its decades-old patrons, customers, and even competitors, that the beat has refused to abate.

Throughout the campaign, FirstBank subtly registers itself in the minds of the banking public that it’s entirely Nigerian – past, present, and the future. The well-crafted historical simulation captures how FirstBank opened its first branch in Lagos in 1894 and started helping merchandise and local traders to grow their businesses. The excitement and enthusiasm on the faces of the bank’s early customers after getting their cash books from the Lagos office say it all. Like someone who has gotten a glimpse of what the future holds with banking, the customers express surprises and happiness. The commercial captures the mood and goes back in memory lane on how the bank has helped many people succeed in their ventures. Subtly, the narrator takes viewers to Kano and reveals how the then richest men in the commercial city were making their deposit of 20 bags of Silver in an atmosphere that looks like the first operational day of the bank.

Perhaps the beauty of the commercial lies more in the way it strikes a balance between the ancient and the modern days through setting and swapping of background colours. This was cleverly explored in referencing the way the bank transformed into an online haven, driven by technology. While reminding the patrons of the bank’s transformation and technological advancement, the narrator is quick to talk about the expansion of the bank beyond the shores of Nigeria to the West-African region and beyond. The TVC also positions FirstBank as a socially responsible brand by touching on various initiatives it has embarked on. Specifically, First Bank’s contribution to Sports through its support for football and athletics is captured very well.

The ‘Giant in You’ is another chapter as the bank begins a fresh journey after operating for 130 years.

Culled from ThisDay

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Unity Bank Splashes N4m on Customers in Cashtoken Rewards Promo

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Unity Bank customers have claimed over N4 million in cash rewards in its ongoing loyalty programme recently rolled out with Cashtoken, a Cash Reward-as-a-Service company.

The winners included no fewer than 40 customers who adopted and transacted on the Bank’s digital banking platforms, including the UniFi mobile banking application, the *7799# USSD platform or activated their Unity Bank Verve Card to transact on e-payment terminals across Nigeria.

Beginning from onboarding in our customer lifecycle journey, the Unity Bank Cashtoken Partnership commenced as a loyalty and reward scheme to reinforce the benefits of e-banking platforms. To begin, Customer transactions earn cash tokens, which are then redeemed to qualify for the monthly Cashtoken Rewards draw. Consequently, winners emerge from the draws to claim the cash prizes.

Recall that the retail lender announced the ongoing Cashtoken Rewards loyalty programme in December 2023 in partnership with Cashtoken Rewards Africa to empower customers and improve customer satisfaction. The partnership with Cashtoken Rewards also provided an opportunity for the Bank to migrate customers—old and new—to a platform that will continually create exciting rewards and appreciation for loyalty.

Eghomware Iyamu, Unity Bank’s Head of E-Business, commenting on the success of the Cashtoken Rewards loyalty program, stated: “We are excited to see our customers win over N4 million in cash rewards through our partnership with Cashtoken. This initiative demonstrates our commitment to recognizing and rewarding the loyalty of our customers”.

“By leveraging our digital banking platforms, including the Unifi mobile banking application and the *7799# USSD platform, we are not only enhancing customer experience but also providing life-changing opportunities. The Cashtoken Rewards program is a testament to our dedication to improving customer satisfaction and creating meaningful rewards along our customer lifecycle journey. We look forward to seeing more of our customers benefit from this exciting program as we continue to innovate and deliver exceptional value to them.”

Unity Bank has robust electronic banking products which include mobile and digital banking channels, including ATM, PoS, or any digital payment channels which support retail product transactions across the country. New-to-Bank customers are invited to open a Unity Bank account, onboard onto the digital platforms and begin transacting on the various platforms to earn cash token rewards and cash prizes while existing customers are encouraged to onboard and transact to win even more rewards and cash prizes.

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