The CEO of First Bank Plc, MD/CEO, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan had a media parley on Wednesday, 20th of March 2018 where he laid out the bank’s vision for the future. Nairametrics Founder, Ugodre Obi-chukwu was in attendance and had a chance to ask a few questions which we believe our readers could be interested in.
For First Bank, the oldest corporate institution in Nigeria, it also wants to be the leader in the digital revolution that is increasingly changing the financial landscape of the country. Before we get to the key questions asked by Nairametrics, let us summarized the key strategic ambitions articulated for the bank by its CEO;
Attain No 1 In digital customers
and E-transaction volumes
Top 3 in customer satisfaction
35% growth in customers and number of accounts by 2019
Achieve 20% ROE by 2019
Achieve sub50% Cost to income ratio target by 2019
Achieve sub 10% NPLs by 2019
Now to the questions;
On increasing customers to over 30 million
We asked the CEO how the bank intends to manage customer acquisition cost typically associated with increasing the customer base of the bank
In response, he explained that the bank planned to leverage on its economies of scale which would enable it to increase customer base without increasing cost significantly. For example, it says the technological infrastructure it has deployed and plans to scale will ensure that it can cater for continuous customer acquisition drive without necessarily increase the cost per head.
One the rise of Digital Banking
We asked him about the increasing adoption of Digital Banking in Nigeria and in Africa and how First Bank intends to confront the impending threat of a disruption. We also asked if the bank will be considering setting up a spin-off subsidiary that will focus mainly on Digital Banking.
In response, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan explained that the rather than set up a new subsidiary for Digital Banking, it will build on the successes of First Mobile, its banking mobile application as a vehicle into full-fledged digital banking. He also highlighted the Digital Labs initiative that the bank is currently promoting as a venture that would give the bank access to innovation-driven product and services. He also explained that First Bank is already on track for this as nearly 80% of customer induced transactions are carried out online. He remarked that First Bank facilitated over N1 trillion in USSD transactions in 2017 and has repeatedly carted awards for its prowess in the e-business space.
On First Bank’s share price
The CEO was asked if the current share price of First Bank, trading at about N12 was rightly priced at an earnings multiple of about 19x when rival Tier 1 banks were still trading under 10x earnings multiple. We also wanted to know if he thought this was priced in already
In response, he argued that the current share price of the bank was justified and a reflection of the inherent value the bank has. He further explained that the bank’s Strategic Plans will even portend more valuation for the company. He said the bank’s market value had increased by over N150 billion in the last year when it traded at under N3 to the N12 that it currently trades at today.
On Non-interest income
Gleaning from some of the results that have been released, we pressed the CEO on the bank’s plans to grow non-interest revenue.
He responded by assuring investors that the bank was going to focus on growing its E-business assets an area where they believe they have significant upsides. He also explained that the bank is refocusing its overseas branches towards better operational efficiencies and profitability. For example, the China Branch will not only help facilitate trade with Nigerian businesses but with other African countries where they also have footprints in.
On hitting the N1 trillion in Gross Revenue mark
We asked if the bank was in the race to achieve N1 trillion in Gross Earnings seeing that rival Zenith Bank posted N745 billion in Gross Earnings for 2017 up 47% year on year. FBNH the parent company of First Bank reported
Dr. Adesola took a deep breath as he gathered his thoughts before answering this question. In response, he declared that the race to N1 trillion was still wide open and that First Bank was in it to win.
The Bank’s foreign subsidiary will now report to its Group Executive, International Banking Group, Bashirat Odunewu.
The Bank will not be paying its holding company a dividend for 2017. However, this does not stop the Holding Company from paying dividends.
The bank currently does over 5000 transactions per minute on its ATM’s scattered nationwide. He claims the bank owns 25% of ATMs in the country.
Interesting to note that he said First Bank’s unique position as one of the few Nigerian banks that facilitate millions in transactions daily is significant to being a Systemic Important Bank.
They have also recruited a new Chief Risk Officer from the African Develop Bank who will be tasked to fix the bank’s risk assessment processes.
At 12 per share (currently) First Bank appears to be overvalued. However, following this media briefing we believe the bank has a clear-cut strategy that could help sustain the current valuation at the very least.
For the bank to continue to maintain investor positive sentiments, it will hope that some of its plans continue to materialize in the first quarter of 2018. 2017 is more or less a transition year for this bank considering that it had to take provisions of most of its loans.
Restructuring a humongous bank like First Bank is not a walk in the park considering its cost and benefit dynamics and the length of time required to deliver. So the bank will hope that it has the right human resource in key positions that can help it attain these objectives.
FG places high profile Nigerians under security watch for terrorism financing
The FG has said that it is currently profiling a large number of high profile Nigerians who have been alleged to have reasonable links to terrorism financing.
The Federal Government has said that it is currently profiling a large number of high profile Nigerians who have been alleged to have reasonable links to terrorism financing.
This follows the arrest of an undisclosed number of suspects recently after the convictions of some Nigerians on terrorism financing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
This disclosure was made by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, during a chat with the press at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.
What the Attorney General of the Federation is saying
The Minister said that the convictions of Nigerians in the UAE has given rise to wider and far-reaching investigations in Nigeria.
Malami in his statement said, “As you will actually know, sometimes back, there were certain convictions of Nigerians allegedly involved in terrorism financing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
That gave rise to a wider and far-reaching investigation in Nigeria and I’m happy to report that arising from the wider coverage investigation that has been conducted in Nigeria, a number of people, both institutional and otherwise, were found to be culpable, I mean reasonable grounds for suspicion of terrorism financing have been established, or perhaps has been proven to be in existence in respect of the transactions of certain high-profile individuals and businessmen across the country.
I’m happy to report that investigation has been ongoing for long and it has reached an advanced stage. Arriving from the investigation, there exists, certainly, reasonable grounds for suspicion that a lot of Nigerians, high-profile, institutional and otherwise, are involved in terrorism financing and they are being profiled for prosecution.
In essence, it is indeed true that the government is prosecuting and it’s indeed initiating processes of prosecuting those high-profile individuals that are found to be financing terrorism. It is indeed true.
However, Malami did not give the number of such suspects as he maintained that investigation was still ongoing until a conclusion is arrived at.
“As to the number, the investigation is ongoing and it has to be conclusive before one can arrive at a certain number, but one thing I can tell you is it is a large number and they are being profiled for prosecution.
It is indeed a large number and I’m not in a position to give you the precise number as at now because the profiling and investigation are ongoing.”
Malami warned that government will not hesitate to invoke the full wrath of the law on anyone found culpable in sponsoring terrorism in the country as nobody found culpable in terrorism financing will be spared.
What you should know
It can be recalled that in March 2021, the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) confirmed the arrest of some of its members by security operatives over the investigation of some of their transactions which border on money laundering, terrorism financing and Know Your Customer status.
ABCON in its statement said that it considers these as serious allegations especially given the security challenges facing the country. It appealed to the authorities to expedite action to ensure that innocent people who have been caught up in this investigation can be released and so that they can return to their anxious families and resume their lives.
Nigeria’s VAT collection surges to N496.4 billion in Q1 2021
Nigeria’s VAT collection surged by 52.93% (year-on-year) to stand at N496.4 billion in Q1 2021.
Nigeria generated a sum of N496.39 billion revenue from Value Added Tax (VAT) in the first quarter of 2021, a surge of 52.93% year-on-year compared to N324.58 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.
This is contained in the sectoral distribution of value added tax report, recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the report, VAT collections in the period represents a 52.93% increase as against N324.58 billion recorded in Q1 2020; and a 9.17% increase compared to N454.7 billion recorded in the previous quarter.
The increase in VAT collections could be attributed to increased economic activity in the country, compared to the previous year, where most economic activities were put on hold as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.
- Highlights of the report showed that the manufacturing sector generated the highest amount of VAT with N49.41 billion generated, closely followed by Professional Services, having generated N42.50 billion, and State Ministries & Parastatals, which generated N26.96 billion.
- Mining generated the least, closely followed by Pioneering, Textile & Garment Industry with N48.36 million, N77.01 million, and N289.41 million generated respectively.
- Also, out of the total amount generated in Q1 2021, N224.85 billion was generated as Non-Import VAT locally while N171.66 billion was generated as Non-Import VAT for foreign.
- The balance of N99.88 billion was generated as NCS-Import VAT.
Manufacturing sector topples professional services
The manufacturing sector toppled the professional services sector to lead the list of sectors with the highest VAT remittances in the first quarter of 2021. A total of N49.41 billion was collected as Value Added Tax from the manufacturing sector.
- Professional services followed closely, having remitted N42.5 billion in VAT to the government, State ministries and parastatals stood in third position with N26.96 billion VAT.
- Others on the list include; Commercial and trading sector with N22.8 billion, oil-producing (N15.8 billion), Transportation and haulage services (N14.9 billion), Breweries, bottling, and beverages (N11.9 billion).
- Federal ministries and parastatals (N8.8 billion), banks and financial institutions (N3.3 billion), and oil-marketing (N3 billion).
Why this matters
- The increase in VAT collection is a development in the right direction, especially given the recent positive growth recorded in global crude oil prices, indicating an increase in government revenue.
- However, the government needs to intensify its effort in creating innovative ways of increasing revenue given growing overheads and statutory spending, coupled with increasing debt profile.
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