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Exclusives

Government must play a major role for the mortgage sector to thrive – CEO, Abbey Mortgage Bank

Abbey Mortgage Bank CEO gives an insight into the mortgage sector and highlights the roles of key stakeholders for the sector to thrive.

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The Managing Director/CEO of Abbey Mortgage Bank has given an overview of the mortgage bank industry in Nigeria, what inspired the establishment of Abbey Mortgage Bank, and the challenges encountered on the way.

Speaking during the Nairametrics’ Business Half Hour, Madu Haman gave a brief background of his journey into the financial industry.

“I graduated from the university in 1982, started my banking career in 1984 with the then Bank of Credit & Commerce, which was later converted to African International Bank (Afribank). In 1990, I joined the merchant bank now called the New World Merchant Bank. Then in 1992, I left New World Merchant Bank to join Abbey Building Society, which is now Abbey Mortgage Bank,” he said.

According to Mr. Madu, what motivated the establishment of Abbey Mortgage Bank was the Mortgage Institution Act that was enacted in 1989. It was an opportunity to provide housing finance to Nigerians. So, in 1992, they got licensed and since then, the business has grown.

He continued by saying that currently, their aim is to replicate in Nigeria what is obtainable in a more developed economy like the UK, where housing finance is affordable and available to everyone.

During the session, he stated that nothing came easy, especially when it came to establishing a business, so, they had their pitfalls during inception though they were able to scale through, with the help of the initial promoters who had experience in banking.

Speaking about funding, Mr. Madu noted that their initial capital when they started in 1992 was N5,000,000, which the promoters were able to gather from friends. Since then, they have gradually been increasing the capital. In 2005, they became a public limited liability company and got listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2008, which gave them a wider market for raising capital.

Abbey Mortgage Bank, according to Madu, is in partnership with private sector providers, most of whom are real estate developers who provide the houses for them to grant mortgages on. He noted that the partnership is with credible developers, who have the type of houses that meet the requirement of customers. The bank is also in partnership with notable cooperatives, whose members want to access housing finance.

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According to him, Nigeria’s patronage of mortgage banks is very low. He said even at the African level, Nigeria is way below when it comes to a mortgage. He stated that currently, the mortgage sector constitutes just about 2.5% of our GDP compared to the United Kingdom where the contribution is 80%, while South Africa contributes 50% to 60% of their GDP, and Ghana has close to 30% GDP contribution. In other words, Nigeria needs to step up her game when in the mortgage sector.

He said for this to be feasible, the Government has a major role to play in terms of providing the right environment for the mortgage sector to thrive. Speaking further, he said there are many challenges that affect the mortgage sector, most of which have to do with the government. For example, the Land Use Act, which makes the process of land acquisition very difficult and expensive. Speaking further, he stated that what made land acquisition difficult are the processes one must undergo, such as:

  1. The process of getting the Governor’s consent
  2. The bureaucratic process of registering the mortgage
  3. The cost of registration being exorbitant.

During the session, Haman noted that the government could assist in reducing some of these challenges. The plan to address the various challenges facing the mortgage sector started as far back as 2001 when the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, formed a presidential committee to review the legal framework around the mortgage sector, especially amending the Land Use Act and other issues concerning the smooth operation of the mortgage sector.

However, before the approval of such an amendment, another government took over which automatically led to starting the process all over.

Furthermore, he said they had to establish an advocacy association for the mortgage Industry called the Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria and their work is to take care of these issues that the mortgage sector is facing. He said they also have other institutions, like the Nigerian Mortgage Finance Company, which is partly owned by the participating banks and partly owned by the Federal Government (the Federal Ministry of Finance and CBN are also involved). The role of this institution is advocacy, i.e., trying to address the challenges facing the mortgage sector.

Also, they have been talking to state governors to see how each state can amend some of their laws to make it easier and smoother for mortgage sectors. However, he noted that some states like Lagos and Kaduna have been very cooperative. More so, the engagement continues with various other states that are willing to participate in the provision of housing for their citizens.

Additionally, he clarified the issues some Nigerians encounter when it comes to accessing NHF loans. He said the Federal Mortgage Bank is a custodian of the National Housing Fund, so for a contributor to be able to access facilities from the National Housing Fund, they must approach a primary mortgage bank which then processes their request and forwards it to the Federal Mortgage Bank for approval. He added that before NHF can give out a loan, it will have to check out the following:

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  • The property involved.
  • Does it have a proper title?
  • What is the applicant’s source of income?
  • Would he be able to meet the repayment of the loan?

All these processes are done at the primary mortgage bank-level before being forwarded to the Federal Mortgage Bank for approval, and then the Federal Mortgage Bank also goes through its own process of checking. With all these processes, one might look at the loan request as a difficult one, however, the rate at which you get the facilities is only 6% which is the lowest facility you can get in the Nigerian market right now.

In conclusion, he said that Abbey has a very good pedigree, and they been in the market for almost 29 years now. He continued by saying that Abbey mortgage bank is presently the oldest and the largest mortgage bank in Nigeria and they are currently doing the Right Issues which was opened on the 4th of January for their existing shareholders to invest more on.

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    Exclusives

    Corporate Nigeria spends N31.22 billion on travel expenses in 2020

    According to data obtained by Nairametrics Research, travel expenses of major corporations in Nigeria dipped by 36.97% in 2020.

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    Corporate Nigeria represented by the largest listed companies on the Nigerian Stock Exchange experienced a reduction in business travel expenses in the year 2020.

    According to data obtained from the audited financial statements of the top 30 companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) known as the NSE-30 and verified by Nairametrics Research, travel expenses dipped by 36.97% from N49.54 billion recorded in 2019 to N31.22 billion in 2020.

    Travel expenses include flight tickers, hotel expenses, cost of renting and maintaining private jets, local interstate and intrastate transportation etc.

    • Of the 30 companies considered, only 3 of them increased their travel expenses in 2020. Notably, Guinness increased its travel expenses by 283.1% from N261.4 million to N1 billion in the review period.
    • Nascon Allied Industries and Presco Plc incurred a sum of N91.8 million and N2.02 billion in travel expenses, representing a 125.2% and 33.7% increase respectively.
    • On the other hand, MTN Nigeria recorded the highest decline in travel expenses, reduced by 79.9% to stand at N964 million as against N4.79 billion recorded in 2019. Stanbic IBTC followed with a decline of 60.95% to stand at N676 million.
    • It is worth noting, that some companies were not included in this study as they did not disclose their travel expenses during the period under review.

    READ: Banks earn N216 billion in E-banking income amidst threat from challenger banks

    Why the drop?

    The drop in travel expenses was expected as the entire private sector experienced a lockdown for most parts of the year due to Covid-19. The Federal Government introduced movement restrictions on land, sea, and air commute in response to the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

    • This resulted in the cancellation of business travel expenses across the commercial and political nerve centres of the country. Bearing the brunt of this cut in expenses were airlines, hotels, and the entire travel industry who suffered massive revenue losses.
    • The travel industry has been one of the worst-hit sectors due to the COVID-19 outbreak with lockdowns, travel bans, restrictions, and quarantines, which have had a severe impact on business travel for corporate entities in Nigeria.
    • High travel cost implications, hotel rates, and reduction of airline services also made companies resort to phasing out in-person meetings and business travel, as it is more affordable and productive to go digital.
    • The deployment of technology has helped companies cut their travel expenses since part of the key reasons for business travel is for conferences, meeting suppliers and customers. Going forward, video calls show strong potential to replace in-person meetings, resulting in fewer business travels.
    • Additionally, business travels that are meant for training and other learning activities can be done through e-learning.
    • The consistency of corporate entities in adopting technology by going digital will likely continue to reduce business travel expenses of corporations in the country.

    READ: Nigerian corporates spend N1 trillion on capital investment in 2020

    Gains and losses

    On the flip side, online virtual work from home tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom recorded massive revenue boost as the private sector and even government relied on them to connect with clients, employees and other stakeholders.

    • Unfortunately, Nigerian businesses, particularly the tech sector failed to take advantage of the travails of the hospitality sector losing much of this revenue to the likes of Microsoft, Google, Netflix, and Zoom. Nevertheless, other Nigerian tech companies, especially in the entertainment, payment, savings and loans space all recorded a significant boost in topline revenues.

    The top 5 spenders

    The increase or drop in travel expenses for some of the companies under review suggests the approach management took in response to the Covid-19 lockdown. While some reacted by going completely remote as indicative of their numbers, others continued spending, perhaps due to an inefficient cost structure that could not be scaled down despite the imposed lockdown.

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    Access Bank (N7.15 billion)

    Access Bank Plc spent a total of N7.15 billion on business travel expenses in 2020, representing a reduction of 31.9% compared to N10.5 billion recorded in the previous year.

    • The tier-1 bank accounted for 22.9% of the total travel expenses incurred by the top 30 companies on the NSE.
    • The bank’s total asset as of December 2020, stood at N8.67 trillion, representing the highest on the NSE.

    UBA (N4.94 billion)

    United Bank for Africa incurred a sum of N4.94 billion on business travels in the year 2020. Its travel expenses reduced by 30.1% compared to N7.06 billion recorded in 2019.

    • Its expenses accounted for 15.8% of the total recorded by companies under consideration.
    • UBA recorded a growth of 27.7% in profit after tax from N89.1 billion recorded in 2019 to N113.8 billion in 2020.

    FBN Holdings (N3.51 billion)

    FBN Holdings the parent company of First Bank of Nigeria, one of the major financial institutions in the country, spent a total of N3.51 billion on travel expenses in the year under review.

    • The tier-1 bank reduced its business travel expenses by 48.24% from N6.78 billion recorded in 2019 to N3.51 billion.
    • Also, FBN Holdings accounted for 11.2% of the total business travel expense of the companies under consideration.
    • It is worth noting that FBN Holdings classified its travel expenses as passages and travels.

     

    Dangote Cement (N2.11 billion)

    The most capitalized company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, valued at N3.7 trillion spent a total of N2.11 billion on business travel expenses in 2020.

    • The foremost cement manufacturer in Nigeria recorded a 13.8% decline in travel expenses from N2.45 billion recorded in 2019 to stand at N2.11 billion in 2020.

    Presco Plc (N2.02 billion)

    Presco Plc, a fully-integrated agro-industrial establishment specializing in the cultivation, extraction, refining, and fractionation of crude palm oil into finished products, spent a total of N2.02 billion on travel expenses in 2020.

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    Its travel expenses in 2020, represent a 33.71% increase compared to N1.51 billion recorded in the previous year.

    • It also accounted for 6.5% of the total travel expenses recorded by the companies under consideration.

    Bubbling under

    • Zenith Bank – N1.88 billion
    • Seplat – N1.26 billion
    • Guinness – N1 billion
    • MTN Nigeria – N964 million
    • Fidelity Bank – N964 million

    Note: Fidelity Bank classified its expenses as travelling and accommodation, while MTN Nigeria as Trainings, travels and entertainment cost.

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    Exclusives

    New Management set to take charge at GT Bank as list of appointment and exit leaks

    A major Management restructuring is at the final stages of completion at GTB, one of Nigeria’s most respected commercial banks.

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    GTBank declares dividend payment for FY 2019

    A major Management restructuring is at the final stages of completion at Guaranty Trust Bank, one of Nigeria’s most respected commercial banks.

    Sources with knowledge of the matter informed Nairametrics that a clean sweep of top management staff above the age of 45 has been effected as current maverick MD/CEO Segun Agbaje prepares to retire as MD/CEO of the bank and proceed as MD/CEO of the bank’s Holding Company.

    Segun Agbaje is expected to leave following the end of his 10-year tenure as Managing Director of the bank.

    According to multiple sources, the bank is set to announce Miriam Olusanya as its new Managing Director. We understand the Central Bank has already been notified and a formal announcement could be made anytime soon.

    READ: BankTech War: Segun Agbaje says GTBank not afraid of Fintech

    In an internal memo dated April 28, 2021, and seen by Nairametrics, Thomas John has been appointed Managing Director of GTB West Africa while Bayo Veracruz was appointed Managing Director of GTB East Africa.

    Others are Olayinka Odusote as Divisional Head, Digital Banking, an important position considering the bank’s ambition to transform into a full-fledged digital bank. Ijeoma Esemudje is appointed Divisional Head Corporate Bank Mainland & Agric.

    As part of the management restructuring already in effect, two of the oldest and revered Executive Directors of the bank have already been asked to retire after illustrious years of service to the bank. Nairametrics also understands 4 General Managers out of 9 have also been asked to exit the bank paving the way for younger executives mostly under the age of 45 to take charge.

    A list of appointments and exits purportedly approved by the board is already being circulated across several social media groups on WhatsApp and Telegram. Nairametrics cannot confirm the authenticity of the list and although officials at the bank did not confirm the list, they stated that a press release would soon be made to announce the appointments.

    READ: GTB, Zenith, UBA lead banks with highest social media followers 

    Recruitment vs Selection Process?

    In September 2020, Agbaje disclosed during the bank’s investor earnings call that GTBank was already looking for its next Managing Director. According to him, five of the bank’s Executive Directors were in line for the top job and were at the concluding stages of the recruitment process.

    He said:

    “What we are looking for now is a Managing Director for Guaranty Trust Bank Nigeria. The process has started; we have 5 Executive Directors and so all of them are going through the process at the moment.

    We are working with a consulting firm in the UK ….. at the end of this process which will end at the beginning of the fourth quarter, we will have a Managing Director for GT Bank Nigeria.”

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