This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Diamond Bank Extends Alex Otti's Tenure, Appoints Two Deputy MDs

The Board of Directors of Diamond Bank Plc has announced the extension of the tenure of its Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Alex Otti, for another three years with effect from March 2014.

It also announced the appointment of Caroline Anyanwu and Uzoma Dozie, who are both executive directors at the bank, as deputy managing directors.

This is the first time the bank will be appointing deputy managing directors since it was established about 23 years ago.

In addition, the bank promoted 458 other members of staff across the bank, following the conclusion of staff performance evaluation for 2013. In a statement made available to THISDAY Thursday, the board said the extension of Otti's tenure is in recognition and appreciation of the impact his leadership has had on the bank since March 2011.

In his first three years, Otti focused on steadying the bank, which was reeling from the effects of the global financial crises of 2008/2009, had declined in size, and lost market share to competition.

The bank was also confronted with the challenge of raising additional capital to meet the new Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) required for the international banking licence issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

These efforts have started to pay off, as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), in 2012, invested $70 million in Tier II capital after an extensive due diligence exercise on the bank.

Financial performances in 2012 and 2013 showed that the bank has regained market share leading to its being named as one of the eight systemically important banks by the CBN.

The bank is also back to profitability after the loss of over N16 billion declared in the 2011 financial year occasioned by non-performing loan write-offs and write down in the value of assets. The business of the bank is now more sustainable and the bank believes it will continue to build on the hard work that generated profits of N28.36 billion and N33.25 billion in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

In his short stint, Otti has overseen the doubling of the assets of the bank, which stood at over N1.3 trillion in December 2013, and has redefined the image of the bank from a conservative stodgy outlook to a more vibrant business partner for individuals, small businesses and big corporates.

In 2013, he guided the bank to establish a physical presence in London with the opening of a UK office, venturing outside West Africa for the first time and signifying its intent to achieve global relevance in the future.

The board is pleased to note that as at the end of March 2014, Diamond Bank was one of the few international banks with profitable subsidiaries in all countries where it has a presence.

Otti, who is also the Chairman of Committee of Bank CEOs in Nigeria, has over 25 years industry experience, having started his career in Citibank in 1989.

Since then, he has held senior level and executive positions in United Bank for Africa Plc, and was an Executive Director in First Bank of Nigeria Limited from where he was appointed the Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank.

In addition, as part of its commitment to grow talents from within, the board approved the appointment of two deputy managing directors from amongst the existing executive directors.

Anyanwu, who is the Chief Risk Officer, is one of those to step into the role of a deputy managing director. Before her appointment as an executive director in Diamond Bank, she has had over two decades of industry experience spanning the defunct Oceanic Bank Plc, UBA, Diamond Bank and the defunct Finbank.

The board is convinced that the experience she brings to the role will help position the bank to confront the challenges of modern banking under the Basel III framework.

Dozie is a long time employee of Diamond Bank since joining from Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in the 1990s. He is currently the executive director in charge of Retail Banking, a business segment where the bank sees major growth opportunities in the years ahead.

The board noted that it expects him to harness the retail banking experience of the past few years and focus these to bring the bank's retail banking to prominence and dominance.

The board said it believes that with these appointments, the bank is poised to consolidate on its achievements in the past three years.

During the extended mandate, it will be relying on the executive management team to deliver on the five-year strategic growth plan for which a preliminary assessment is due in December 2014 and final assessment in December 2016.

"Beyond this, management is to focus on growing shareholder value over the long term and build a well-capitalized bank that can stand the test of anticipated or unanticipated industry and economic shocks," the board added.

According to the board, "As the bank continues to grow its retail franchise and consolidate on its other businesses, some attention would also be paid to continental expansion, staying within its model of retaining a business presence only in locations that meet minimum 'return on capital invested' threshold."

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