Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Wema Bank Plans Return to National Bank Status

Wema Bank has announced its plans to reapply for a National Banking License in view of a proposed tier 1 capital injection of around N35 billion by December 2012.

This comes on the back of a 29 per cent increase in gross earnings and 56 per cent increase in operating income by the bank for 2011 as made known during a presentation to financial regulators and the general public in Lagos.

Speaking on the bank's performance and plans, Segun Oloketuyi, the bank's Managing Director/CEO said that despite the daunting dynamics of the operating environment, the bank remains committed to scaling growth positively whilst adhering to best practice in risk-management and corporate governance and without compromising on the bank's values of integrity, professionalism and exceptional service delivery

According to Oloketuyi, "The past three years have seen Wema Bank evolve into one of the leaders in the retail banking space through a well-structured transformation process that has seen the implementation of sound corporate governance and risk management frameworks to further engender a stronger and more dynamic business model.

We are thus confident in our resolve to translate challenges into opportunities and maximising value for all stakeholders"

He added that plans were at advanced stages to conclude on a N35billion tier-1 Capital raising exercise which commenced a few months ago with a firm commitment of N15 billion by a core investor already in place.

"We expect to begin the process of seeking regulatory approval as soon as all the necessary plans are finalised", he stated.

A review of the bank's financial performance shows considerable upward trend since 2009 when the new management took over with gross earnings growing 35.02 per cent to N25.64 billion as at December 2011.

Oloketuyi noted that though gains in earnings and various cost-containment strategies were largely wiped off by one-off impairment charges on assets culminating in a loss after-tax loss N7.6 billion in December 2011, the bank has however fully realigned its books for positive performance.

He noted that, a growth of 9.45 per cent to N222.24billion was recorded in total assets in 2011 whilst an aggressive focus on cleaner loan books and better risk management has seen a significant reduction in NPL ratio from 56 per cent in FY2010 to 14 per cent in FY2011 (NPL now 4.5 per cent as at Q3, 2012).

On the injection of additional capital, Oloketuyi expressed optimism that it will enable the bank achieve optimal business results by driving volumes as more risk assets and investment securities are financed in the short-to-medium term.

He noted that the additional capital position will also enable the bank seek regulatory approval for a National Banking license to further take advantage of opportunities in other commercial hubs in the country.

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