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.
COVID-19: Russia produces first batch of its newly approved vaccine
Russia announced on Saturday, August 15, 2020, that it has produced the first batch of its newly approved vaccine, Sputnik V, hours after the health ministry reported the start of its production.
The disclosure was made in a statement by the Russian Health Ministry and quoted by Russian news agencies.
This is coming some days after the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, announced the registration of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine in what could be described as a step ahead of other vaccine developments.
The announcement is seen as a propaganda coup for the Russian government against the west amid a global race to develop vaccines against the coronavirus disease.
The announcement of the vaccine registration by Putin was met with caution from scientists and the World Health Organization (WHO), who said that it still needed a rigorous safety review. Some of the scientists fear that with this fast regulatory approval, Russia may be putting national prestige ahead of safety.
Putin had said the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had been inoculated, although the final stage testing involving over 2,000 people just started this week. Such trials are considered very important before a vaccine can secure regulatory approval.
Russia has said the vaccine which is the first for the coronavirus disease to go into production, will be rolled out by the end of August.
The Gamaleya Research Institute, which developed the vaccine in collaboration with the Russian Defence Ministry, said that Russia would be producing about 5 million doses a month by December or January.
Heineken scoops more Nigerian Breweries shares in insider disclosure
The company has about 8 billion shares outstanding with Heineken as the majority shareholder.
Nigerian Breweries major shareholder, Heineken disclosed it purchased 274,542 units at an average price N35.76 per unit.
Insider disclosures are reported on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as a regulatory requirement especially when it informs a major shareholder or director of a company purchasing shares in the company they own.
In a related development, its chairman Chief Kolawole Babalola Jamodu also purchased 10,000 units at N37 per unit.
Nigeria Breweries closed at N36 per share on Friday trading at a price to earnings of 34x. The company has about 8 billion shares outstanding with Heineken as the majority shareholder.
What this means: Insider purchases are often an indication of how shareholders perceive the company’s valuation. It can also mean a lot of things from a possible capital raise to a strengthening of their existing holdings.
Nigerian Breweries has struggled for growth over the last few years as consumers continue to experience a change to taste and preference for alcohol.
Lagos announces additional tax incentives for businesses, individuals
Waiver of penalty for late payment of liabilities under PAYE that were due during the period when the state was under lockdown.
The Lagos State Government has announced additional tax incentives and reliefs for businesses and individuals in the state, as part of measures aimed at reducing the burden on taxpayers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The disclosure was made in a public notice issued by the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) and signed by its Executive Chairman, Ayodele Subair.
The additional tax incentives are part of the several measures implemented by the LIRS to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on taxpayers in Lagos and ensure business continuity.
The government had earlier given 3 months extension of deadline for filing annual returns from March 31 to June 30, 2020.
The additional measures being implemented by the state government include:
- LIRS shall be allowing on a case by case basis, the payment of outstanding liabilities in instalments to ease cash flow challenges that may affect taxpayers.
- Waiver of penalty for late payment of liabilities under PAYE that were due during the period when the state was under lockdown (March-May 2020).
- Waiver of penalties due on late filing of 2020 annual tax returns (Form A).
- Waiver of interest and penalty components of outstanding tax audit liabilities from 2009 to 2015 for entities that present and keep to a structured payment plan that terminates on or before December 31, 2020.
- Grant of tax credits of 20% of cash and kind donations made for COVID-19 by resident individuals to Lagos State Government for the 2021 Year of Assessment only subject to a cap of 35% of tax due.
- Increase of payment channels to make payment of taxes easier, simpler and more convenient for all.
- Adopting of video conferencing as the default mode for conduct of Tax Audit Reconciliation Committee (TARC) meetings in consonance with social distancing advisories from Government and other relevant authorities.
The Lagos state government expressed hope that all residents of the state would take advantage of these palliatives and reciprocate the government’s kind gestures by discharging their civic responsibilities by promptly paying their taxes and levies to the state.