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Profiles

Otunba Subomi Balogun, the octogenarian banking legend

Singlehandedly starting a bank is one credit that Balogun has earned among bank founders.

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Almost two decades after retiring from active banking, 86-year old Subomi Balogun is still wielding much influence in Nigeria’s banking sector. Some even argue that he has as much influence after his retirement, as he did while he was still Chairman and CEO of the first wholly-owned Nigerian Merchant bank – FCMB.

In 2004, when the Central Bank of Nigeria declared a new minimum share capital of N25 billion, Balogun came out of retirement to lead the campaign. With his influence and drive, the company’s issued shares were oversubscribed, even as FCMB ended up acquiring six other banks that were unable to meet the requirements.

READ MORE: How the United States plans to control the African Development Bank

Who is Olasubomi Balogun?

Olasubomi Olaotan Olaonipekun Balogun was born on 9 March 1934 in Ijebu-Ode in present-day Ogun State. He is a direct descendant of the Awujale (king of Ijebuland). He spent his early years there before moving to Lagos state for his education and eventually became quite comfortable with being called Subomi.

He had his secondary education at Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos, then wrote and passed the Cambridge School Certificate in Grade One in 1952, and later the General Certificate Examination (GCE) Advanced Level.

Afterwards, Subomi taught in a secondary school for a while before heading to the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1956 to read Law. After graduating in June 1959, he was called to the English Bar in December 1959.

He was later sponsored by the Western Regional Government to receive special training in Legal Drafting in Whitehall and the City of London, with a particular specialisation in financial legislation, instruments, and agreements.

READ: 50,000 farmers to benefit from AFEX Commodities funding initiative

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Upon completion, he served as a Crown Counsel in both the Ministry of Justice of the then Western Nigeria and then, as Assistant Parliamentary Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Lagos.

From principal counsel to investment banker

Subomi served for 9 years (between 1966 and 1975) as Principal Counsel and Company Secretary to the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB). That was partly how he developed an interest in banking. Subsequently, he received training at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), also known as the World Bank, and its private sector affiliate, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), both in Washington DC. He went further to learn from leading stockbrokers, investment banks, and merchant banks in London and New York.

By 1973, Subomi Balogun was already showing a great level of expertise, even as he became the Director in charge of the operations of Icon Securities Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NIDB. He was later part of the team that converted Icon Securities into a merchant bank.

He later headed Icon Stockbrokers Limited, a foremost stockbroking firm that he was instrumental in establishing. He was subsequently seconded to Icon Limited (Merchant Bankers), as an Executive Director and was there till 1977 when he left to set up his company.

He recalled that his eventual departure was born out of pain over being cheated. He had put forward the idea of a merchant bank after his return from a course in the US, and despite being the most qualified to head the new institution as Chief Executive, he was passed over.

READ MORE: Infrastructural financing in Nigeria: Why bonds are better than loans

“When it came to selecting the Chief Executive, I was told that in spite of all entreaties, that I could not be the Chief Executive because I happened to have a basic training in law. I was 42 and they brought a young man with little or no experience, from America, at 32, to take my place,” he recounted.

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He recalled that when he prayed about it at home. But then an awakening came when his son asked why he was praying to head another person’s bank rather than pray to own a bank. This question from a 9-year old became an inspiration for the 43-year old to launch out on his own, even without a partner.

Establishing the first Nigerian Merchant bank

In December 1977, Subomi Balogun set up City Securities Limited, the first institution in Nigeria to ever combine an issuing house and stockbroking business under one name. This was only a first step to establishing the merchant bank which he wanted. From there, he set up the first wholly Nigerian owned merchant bank – First City Merchant Bank Limited.

Starting the bank was no smooth ride, as he had to deal with a lot of opposition before he got his license. Due to his vibrancy and deep involvement in the political space, some feared that he was going to use the bank to support a political group.

“People thought it was impossible. Someone said I would either end up as a multi-billionaire or go to jail,” he said later.

READ ALSO: DEAL: Dalphon Holdings acquires stake in Leventis Foods

He also recalled that it took the intervention of Dr Alex Ekwueme, who had just been elected as Vice President under the second republic. “But for him, FCMB would have remained a dream,” Balogun said. Within a week, he received a call from Chief Yomi Akintola, the Finance Minister, that his license had been granted.

Singlehandedly starting a bank is no mean feat, and it is one credit that Balogun has earned among bank founders. He led the bank for the first two decades, doubling as Chairman and Chief Executive, and successfully pushed the bank beyond the local to the international scene. The bank’s paid-up share capital grew from N2 million at inception in 1979 to N1.5 billion, while total shareholders fund rose to N2.65 billion as at December 2002.

In 2001, the name of the bank was changed from First City Merchant Bank to First City Monument Bank, after it became a universal bank.

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Three years later, on 15 July 2004, FCMB changed its status from a private limited liability company to a public limited liability company and was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on 21 December, 2004.

READ ALSO: AfDB second term presidency for Adesina will deepen Brazilian ties with Africa – IBRAF President

Man of many pursuits

Balogun is a philanthropist and carries out much of his activities through the Otunba Tunwase Foundation. He has built healthcare institutions particularly targeted at children, including the Ijebu-Ode General Hospital, a newly-built and fully-equipped air-conditioned 40-bed Children’s Centre which he donated in 1989. It was named after his mother – Iye Subomi’s Child Care Centre.

On his 60th birthday, he started building the Otunba Tunwase National Paediatric Centre (OTNPC) as a gift to Nigeria. The OTNPC is a referral institution taking care of child healthcare and welfare, and also providing an avenue for specialised studies and academic researches into all manners of children diseases and ailments.

He has received the American Biographical Institute Inc’s Distinguished Leadership Award for outstanding contributions to the development of Investment Banking, and the University of Ibadan’s Degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his outstanding achievements both in the field of Law and his contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and a council member of a number of multi-national Chambers of Commerce.

He holds several traditional titles among the Ijebu people and has received many awards and commendations.

Gunning for a century

Celebrating his 86th birthday in March 2020, Balogun revealed in an interview that he exercised and swam regularly even in his eighties.

“A friend of mine once visited and asked why I still use a staircase when there is an elevator. I said I still want to be walking like a sprinter. By the time I am 90, I would be praying to be 100 and I would still want to be articulate and maintain my cerebral gifts,” he stated.

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career.As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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    Billionaire Watch

    Meet King Maha of Thailand, the richest royal figure in the world

    The Thai king, Maha Vajiralongkorn is several times wealthier than his British counterpart.  

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    Meet King Maha of Thailand, the richest royal figure in the world

    When it comes to monarchies and royal families, the British Royal Family is easily the most revered of them all. One might begin to think they are the wealthiest. Well… they are not! 

    They are not even in the top five list of wealthiest royal families. 

    In today’s article, we will look at a monarch who is several times wealthier than his British counterpart.  

    READ: The UK Royal Family is worth $28bn, here’s how they make their money

    Meet King Maha Vajiralongkorn 

    The 63-year-old king of Thailand who took over his father’s throne is currently the wealthiest royal figure in the world. His late father King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed in 2016 and was the longest-serving monarch in the world. 

    After the coronation of the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn, a strange communique was published on the royal website. The entire portfolio of the Crown Property Bureau was to be transferred into the hands of the new king.  

    Before this announcement, The royal portfolio worth over 40 billion dollars was held by the king on behalf of the nation but now it was to be transferred to the new king. Subsequently, King Maha officially became the richest monarch in the world with a personal net worth and assets valued at $43bn according to the South China Morning Post.  

    READ: There are only 15 black billionaires in the world, here are the top 10

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    King Maha’s major assets  

    The bulk of King Maha’s net worth comes from three major assets:

    • A 23% stake in Siam Commercial Banks, one of the largest commercial banks in Thailand. The bank is valued at $1.7bn according to the Financial Times.  
    • A 33.6$ stake in Siam Cement Group which is the country’s largest industrial conglomerate.  
    • 16,000 acres of prime Thai land and over 40,000 rental leases with developers. 

    READ: Queen Elizabeth II Isn’t As Rich As You Think

    A call for change  in Thailand

    According to Financial Times, recent protests and critics have called for a serious review of the monarchy’s grip on the country and its finances. The protesters led mostly by students are of the opinion that public funds should not be made available for a king.  

    Thailand runs a system of government known as Constitutional Monarchy where the king is the Head of State.  

    King Maha’s lifestyle of luxury  

    King Maha spends most of his time in Germany and has a stunning fleet of 38 aeroplanes and helicopters. His second wife Queen Sineenat is a trained military pilot.  

    King Maha owns the largest faceted diamond, a 546.67-carat brown diamond.  

    READ: A Look back at Jay Z’s Road to Billionaire Status

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    What you should know  about the Thai economy

    Thailand is the eighth largest economy in Asia and the 22nd largest export economy in the world.  

    The GDP of Thailand is calculated as $505 billion, which results in a GDP per capita of $7,274.  

    King Maha is the richest royal figure in the world and he is closely followed by the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah and the king of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.  

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    Profiles

    Ibiene Okeleke: A diva in HR and Management

    Ibiene Okeleke is an Executive Coach passionate about people development, career development and youth empowerment.

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    Ibiene Okeleke: A diva in HR and Management

    With about three decades of a rich and boisterous career across the financial and the energy sector, Ibiene Okeleke has earned bragging rights not just for her skills but her results and accomplishments across human resources and retail banking.

    Through the years of working in different firms, Okeleke has shown skills in business development, negotiation, succession planning, talent management, organisational development and job evaluation.

    READ: Nigeria’s Energy boardrooms: Why are the women outside? 

    Education

    Ibiene got admitted into the University of Lagos in 1989 and obtained her first degree in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from the University of Lagos in 1993. Okeleke got a quick career start immediately, obtaining the rest of her degrees while working.

    She completed an MBA at the IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Spain in 2002, and also got an Advanced Human Resources Executive Degree from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

    Okeleke has also completed a Strategic Human Resource Training course at Harvard Business School, and she is a certified Prince 2 Practitioner.

    She has a LinkedIn certification in Leadership Foundation: Leadership Styles and Models; Creating a Communications Strategy; and How to Create and Run a Brilliant Remote Workshop. She also has a Coursera certification in the Electric Industry Operations and Markets.

    READ: 7 female executives under 40 in FinTech

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    Career Progression

    Okeleke started out her career in 1994, at Inlaks Computers as HR Officer and spent 5 years in the position.  She joined FSB International Bank Nigeria as a Human Resources Officer and spent nine months in the role before heading the Liability Generation Unit of the bank until Feb 2001.

    She went on to lead the Human Resources department at Bond Bank Nigeria for the rest of 2001 and later, at Assurance Bank Nigeria Ltd between 2002 and 2006.

    Her foray into the energy and power sector started with a role as the Group Head of Human Resources at the Sahara Group in 2006. After the privatisation of the power sector in 2013, she moved to Ikeja Electric as the Chief Human Resources and Administrative Officer and positioned the company to become one of the most notable and leading distribution companies in Nigeria.

    In May 2019, she resumed at Energy Training Center (ETC) as the Managing Director. As the leader of this strategic learning academy, she has positioned the institution to provide a wide range of learning interventions for the entire Energy sector. The Academy is focused on capacity building through bespoke learning experiences with the perfect blend of technologies and techniques to achieve organizational and personal success.

    Ibiene Okeleke is also an Executive Coach passionate about people development, career development and youth empowerment, and serves as an adviser on some Not-For-Profit Boards.

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