Zenith Bank Plc has reportedly been given the green light to merge or acquire Union Bank Nigeria Plc. Nairametrics got wind of this from a reliable source. We understand talks are currently ongoing between the banks and a tentative arrangement may have been reached to commence due diligence.
Just last week reports from the Daily Independent suggest Nigeria’s oldest bank FirstBank was also on track to merge or acquire Polaris and Heritage Banks respectively. The bank issued a press release on the Nigerian stock exchange that did not deny the claims but also did not confirm if it is true.
Zenith Bank is Nigeria’s largest bank by profits and second by total assets and could increase its size significantly further with a potential acquisition or merger of this magnitude.
Sources from both banks denied any merger plans have been concluded but will not deny or affirm if talks are ongoing. Our sources also inform Nairametrics that some executives of both banks are not favourably disposed to a merger while others are. Any merger between the banks will surely require the blessing of Jim Ovia, the Chairman and Founder of Zenith Bank, and we now also understand no decision has been made. One of our other sources also claims that he denied any such deal.
We did not expect an affirmation of a deal at this stage. Nairametrics also got a similar response when we contacted sources in First Bank for the reported merger with Polaris Bank and Heritage Bank. In 2018 Access Bank and Diamond Bank also denied any merger plans when we reached out to them when the initial merger news broke. Both banks eventually announced a deal and consummated a merger in December 2018. Deals like these are typically not confirmed until a clearance is obtained from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Why the merger: It is not immediately clear why both banks will be considering a merger, however, Union Bank owners Atlas Mara with a 49% stake has been under pressure to exit their African holdings. Last year (February), Atlas Mara co-founder Bob Diamond announced he was resigning his post as Chairman of the company. The company said it was looking at selling off banking assets in countries where it was not the dominant player.
Earlier in January, Union Bank sold its United Kingdom subsidiary to MBU Capital Limited. The London-based management investment firm acquired Union Bank UK after emerging as the most preferred bidder. According to the bank, “This sale is aligned with Union Bank’s strategy to geographically streamline its business operations to focus on growth opportunities in Nigeria.”
Union Bank also recently raised N20 billion in series 3&4 commercial paper after successfully raising N24.3 billion through the issuance of the Series 1 and 2 of its N100 billion commercial paper programme.
Why Zenith: We believe for Zenith Bank a potential merger could be for two main reasons. Firstly, a merger firmly solidifies Zenith Bank’s position as the largest bank by total assets after falling second to Access Bank with N7.1 trillion. It also gives Zenith Bank control over several juicy assets and right of ways owned by Union Bank from its legacy years.
It could also have been instigated by the CBN which cannot phantom another nationalization of a bank the size of Union Bank. Sources inform Nairametrics that the apex bank is favourably disposed to this move.
Result sheet: Union Bank Results; In a notification that was sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the banking group recorded a 10.3% growth in profit. The profit before tax as of December 31, 2019, was N20.35 billion as against the N18.45 billion that was achieved for the corresponding period for 2018.
Zenith Bank, on the other hand, reported a record profit after tax N208 billion out of a gross earning of N662 billion. Zenith Bank’s net assets of N941.8 billion dwarfs Union Bank’s net assets of N252 billion as of 2019.
Union Bank share price closed at N6 with a market cap of N174 billion as on Friday, March 13th. Zenith Bank closed at N11.90 or N373 billion and trading at a price to earnings multiple of 1.79 compared to Union Bank’s 7.28x.
Note: This story was updated with new information in paragraph 4 and 5.
AXA Mansard emerges Best Health Insurance Product Winner 2021
The winning product was the AXA Platinum Plus Cover which has been specially designed to provide a world-class health cover for the insurer’s customers.
Health Management Organization, AXA Mansard Health Limited, recently announced that it has emerged as the winner of the best health insurance product of the year in the Insurance Product & Process section of the just concluded 11th Annual Global Banking and Finance Awards 2021.
The winning product was the AXA Platinum Plus Cover which has been specially designed to provide a world-class health cover for the insurer’s customers. With access to roam over 1,700 hospitals locally, care in India, UAE and South African hospitals and limited in-patient cover in the UK, France, and Germany for up to $1000 in healthcare benefits.
The product provides enrolees with benefits such as twenty-four-hour dedicated Telemedicine service, home vaccination service, free home delivery of special medications, partnership with healthy eating restaurants, and smarter budget-friendly discounts on healthy meals.
Speaking on the award, Chief Executive Officer, AXA Mansard Health Limited, Tope Adeniyi, said “We thank our highly esteemed customers for this prestigious award, as they are the reason, we passionately drive to improve our product offerings and execute innovative initiatives. This award is recognition of our unflinching commitment to our customers and an affirmation of our current position as the leading health insurance company in the country.”
AXA Mansard Health has a twenty-four-hour call centre, a team of highly trained and dedicated professionals, service portals at all AXA Mansard Welcome Centres nationwide and has deployed state-of-the-art technology to attain operational excellence while contributing to prompt service delivery and overcoming of challenges being encountered in the Nigerian health insurance industry.
Whilst thanking the organizers, Adeniyi noted that “the company is counting on the continued support of our stakeholders to continuously provide superior customer experience and to develop more innovative and value-adding products. We will continue to innovate, create new products, improve our product offering and refine our service delivery to ensure we continuously meet the changing needs of our customers”.
AXA Mansard Health Limited is the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) arm of the AXA Mansard group of companies. The HMO is geared to promote her members’ wellbeing.
The HMO serves all clients across the country virtually and has established functional offices in Lagos (the head office), Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Enugu, with ongoing plans to open offices in other locations.
Global Banking & Finance Review is a leading Online and Print Magazine, which has evolved from the growing need to have a more balanced view, for informative and independent news within the financial community.
Since its inception in 2011, The Awards reflect the innovation, achievement, strategy, progressive and inspirational changes taking place within the Global Financial community. According to the magazine’s publishers the awards were created to recognize companies prominent in their areas of expertise and excellent in financial service delivery.
NNPC to boost power generation with additional 5,000 megawatts to national grid
The NNPC has revealed plans to boost power generation with additional 5,000 megawatts of electricity to the national power grid.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has announced plans to boost power generation with additional 5,000 megawatts of electricity to the national power grid once the ongoing gas projects throughout the country are completed.
This follows progress being made on several gas projects, including the NLNG Train 7, with a foreign direct investment of between $3 billion and $5 billion.
According to a report from Thisday, this disclosure was made by the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, while speaking at a virtual event organised by the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA), themed: “Powering Forward: Enabling Nigeria’s Industrialisation Via Gas,”
Kyari, who was represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, Mr Yusuf Usman, said the NNPC was committed to fulfilling President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to boost domestic gas supply.
Other gas projects listed by the NNPC boss include the AKK, which he described as one the largest and most aggressive gas infrastructure that has ever been embarked upon in Nigeria, stretching 614 km from Ajaokuta, Abuja, Kaduna and Kano, and Lot B of the OB3 gas project, which is already producing 125 mmscfd of gas.
He said the NNPC hopes to establish 2 gas hubs, one at Oben and the other at Brass, adding that one of the presidential mandates is to deliver on gas and power and create a market in the domestic environment that will consume the planned 4.5bcf of gas.
Kyari pointed out that the state oil giant and its partners are able to raise about $260 million within Nigerian merchant banks and 2 African banks for the Asa North gas project.
What the Group Managing Director of NNPC is saying
Kyari in his statement said, “At the moment, the power sector is challenged and all efforts have to be put in to unlock the liquidity in the downstream sector and expand the transmission network. This will enable us to sell the gas we have already invested in and enhance the economic prosperity of the country.
“Within the NNPC, we are looking to establish about five gigawatts of additional power into the network. So, NNPC is engaging with the stakeholders to resolve the power sector issue so that investment that has been made in generating gas can be realised.”
He also stated that the NNPC had started creating a link between the domestic gas pipelines infrastructure and export gas pipelines to establish an outlet into the export route which will make the projects more bankable.
What this means
- The actualization of this plan by the NNPC will give a much-needed boost to the power sector which has been facing serious crisis despite the rapidly growing economy.
- Despite the power sector reform, which saw the Federal Government give up control of power generation and distribution but still retained transmission, the crisis in the sector still persists, with serious negative impacts on the agricultural, industrial and mining sectors. Even the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises are not saved from its crippling effects.
- The addition of 5,000 megawatts of electricity, which is about half of what the country generates at the moment, will go a long way to help reduce the crisis in the power sector and boost the economy, which is still very fragile.
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