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Unity Bank Repositions to Grow Profits

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Unity Bank Plc said it is now positioned to increase lending activities and grow profitability.

Its audited result and accounts for financial year ended December 31, 2019, of the lender showed despite the low yield environment during the period, it was able to improve on its total operating income and reduced operating expenses to boost profitability.

After 2017 balance sheet clean up, the bank reported improved balance sheet growth with increases in lending to customers and improved deposits.

Ebenezer Kolawole, Executive Director, Finance & Operations at Unity Bank, at a virtual media briefing recently expressed that the significant increase in total assets in the last three years is great achievement for the management and staff of the bank.

According to him, “The growth of about 40 per cent in total asset is a great achievement and we also need to look at the bank’s assets base in the last three years.

“In 2017, we closed with total assets of N134 billion. In 2018, it grew to N210 billion and in 2019, we reported N293 billion total assets.”

For the first time in the past five years, the bank declared gross earnings of N44.59 billion and N293 billion total assets, thereby consolidating on the gains on the reforms instituted by the Bank to grow a healthy balance sheet for the past two years. The bank has improved on its lending to the real sector with over N100 billion granted as loans and advances to customers in 2019. The solid financial performance for the period ended December 31, 2019, affirms Unity Bank as one of the leading banks in terms of resilience and a transformed bank amid a challenging business environment in Nigeria.

The 2019 results revealed a number of positive performances as the management continued to reposition its stands on value creation for shareholders and improved on lending to the real sector to support the federal government’s drive to revive the nation’s economy.

Reduction in OPEX, Increase in Total Operating Income Drive Profits Unity Bank for the period under review reported 28.7 per cent increase in gross earnings to N44.59 billion in 2019 from N34.65 billion reported in 2018.

The bank interest income also increased by 21.8 per cent to N35.95 billion in 2019 from N29.5 billion in 2018, over increasing interest generated from loans and advances to customers that moved from N17.64 billion in 2018 to N21.89 billion reported in 2019.

Also. interest generated from placement from other banks moved from N361 million in 2018 to N632 million reported in 2019. More so, interest expense grew by 25 per cent to N19.45 billion in 2019 from N15.5 billion reported in 2018, even as attributed higher bank charges closed 2019 at N10.12billion in 2019 as against N7.7 billion reported in 2018.

Continuing the trend during the year, Net interest Income was stronger in 2019, gaining 18.1 per cent to N16.49 billion in 2019 from N13.97 billion in 2018. In terms of fees generated from banking operations, the lender reported N4.98 billion net fee and commission income in 2019 from N2.3 billion reported in 2018, an increase of 11.3 per cent.

The Bank improved on its Electronic transactions amid gaining more customers and rolling out more ATMs and POS at strategic locations across the country.

Kolawole explained that “in agriculture, we have over 1.5 million farmers in our primary production that banked with us and the number continued to grow as we speak.”

For the year under review, Unity Bank reported a 31.5 per cent increase in total operating income to N25.13 billion in 2019 from N19.11 billion reported in 2018. On the cost side, total Operating Expenses (Opex) dropped by 5.5 per cent to N19.6 billion, as against N20.7 billion in 2018, which is below average inflation rate within the period, a reflection of cost-efficiency gains.

The Bank had embarked on several cost minimization initiatives that have continued to yield positive results as personal expenses dropped to N9.43 billion in 2019 from N9.98 billion reported in 2018 while other operating expenses moved to N8.37 billion in 2019 from N9.35 billion in 2018.

Kolawole speaking on cost said, “We have tried to reduce our cost because that is within our control. We have tried to make sure we do not have any waste at all. We make sure where our money is going to, money is coming back to the bank.

“This has contributed to improved cost to income ratio of Unity bank and it has helped us showcase our impressive 2019 financial year performance.”

Notwithstanding the challenging business environment in Nigeria, the Bank’s Profit Before Tax was impressive at N3.64 billion, compared to a loss of N7.55 billion reported in the 2018 financial year. Furthermore, the Profit After Tax closed positive in 2019, reporting N3.38 billion in 2019 compared to a loss of N7.7 billion reported in 2018.


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E-Financial

SEC, NITDA Collaborate on Data Protection in Capital Market

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Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has restated its preparedness to collaborate with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in a bid to foster safe conduct of transactions and usage of personal data in the Nigerian capital market.

SEC, NITDA Collaborate on Data Protection in Capital Market

Mr. Lamido Yuguda, director general of the SEC, stated this during a webinar on Nigerian Data Protection Regulation and how it affects the Capital Market.

According to a statement by Efe Ebelo, SEC’s Head, Corporate Communication, the event had as its theme: Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR): Implications on the Nigerian Capital Market.

Mr. Yuguda stated that the Commission is very serious on the issue of data protection in the capital market assuring that going forward, the SEC would continue to create necessary awareness.

According to him, “You may all recall that in 2019, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) issued the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) with the objectives to safeguard the rights of natural persons to data privacy; foster safe conduct for transactions involving the exchange of Personal Data; prevent manipulation of Personal Data; and ensure that Nigerian businesses remain competitive internationally

“By this regulation therefore, all private and public organizations that collect, process, store, archive and destroy data of natural persons in Nigeria or of Nigerians resident abroad are required to comply with the provisions of the Regulation.

“Since the Commission and indeed all Capital Market Operators perform these activities on data as covered by the NITDA NDPR, we are also subject to the new regulation, in one way or the other. That explains the reason behind organizing today’s webinar to enlighten the capital market community on the provisions of the NDPR”.


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FBN Insurance Pays N4.4Bn In Claims In Q1 2020

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FBN Insurance has displayed resilience in its business strategy despite the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Nigerian economy.

The company recently paid the sum of N4.4 billion in claims to its customers in the first half of the year 2020.

This represents a 26.7 per cent increase year-on-year when compared to N3.4 billion paid during the same period in 2019.

While briefing news men at the company’s Lagos head office, Mr. Val Ojumah, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of FBN Insurance, disclosed that prompt settlement of customers claims is one of the underpinning business successes of the insurer as it strives to continually boost customers’ confidence and trust during the 10 years of the company’s existence.

According to Ojumah, “As a responsive and reliable insurer, we have during this turbulent time- kept our promise to our customers by paying claims promptly. Our focus remains to provide financial security and relief to our esteemed customers especially at this trying time.”

On a related note, the company has unswervingly delivered on its promise to its shareholders by paying dividends promptly. At the recently held virtual AGM, the company announced a full year dividend of 97k per share for 2019 which represents a 49 per cent increase over the 65k per share that was paid in 2018. The company has consistently paid dividend to its shareholders since 2013.

As at year end, the total assets base of the company grew from N70.5billion in 2018 to N109bilion in 2019. This represents a 55 per cent growth year-on-year of which over 90 per cent are in liquid assets.

In a bid to continue to deliver seamless service to its customers, the company has invested and upgraded its digital platforms.

FBN Insurance Limited, was incorporated in 2010 to transact life insurance business in Nigeria and currently operates in over 60 sales outlets and two branches in addition to its head office located in Lagos


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Naira Weakens, Oil Slips, Stocks Flat

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By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM

As the coronavirus menace dug its vicious talons deeper into Africa’s largest economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria wasted no time in depreciating the official Naira rate by 5.5% to 381 per Dollar.

In the face of Dollar shortages, depressed Oil prices and mounting pressures from external lenders the CBN remains pressured to unify the multiple exchange rates to improve transparency.

A single exchange may eliminate an element of confusion and even attract foreign exchange investment, but such may come at the expense of rising inflation.

The exchange rate at the black market has already tumbled to a three-year low, trading around N463 per Dollar following the official devaluation.

With consumer prices hitting 12.4% in May, signs of rising inflationary pressure fueled by a weaker Naira is the last thing Africa’s largest economy needs.

Local stocks trading flat this week with the Nigerian All-Share Index down -0.24% since Monday.

Oil prices were mostly depressed this week thanks to rising coronavirus cases across the globe.

Fears around another round of lockdowns hitting demand for Oil continues to haunt attraction towards the commodity and this may remain a key theme ahead of the OPEC decision next week.

If the cartel decides to extend the historic production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day beyond July, Oil prices have the potential to edge higher. However, a disappointing outcome to the meeting with the cartel reverting to previous supply cut of 7.6 million barrels per day could send Oil prices tumbling.

Overall, this was another week defined by COVID-19, volatile global equity markets and sharp changes in risk sentiment. Gold is likely to remain the talk of the town after appreciating to levels not seen in 9 years. With coronavirus related developments, trade uncertainty and global growth fears among many negative themes straining sentiment, the precious metal has the potential to shine this quarter.

 


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