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UBA CEO reveals bank well-positioned to meet Africa’s banking needs

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UBA New Executives at NGX 2: l-r: Deputy Managing Director, United Bank for Africa(UBA) Plc, Mr. Muyiwa Akinyemi; Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Ltd , Mr. Temi Popoola and Group Managing Director/CEO, United Bank for Africa(UBA) Plc, Mr Oliver Alawuba; and Director, Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Ltd , Erelu Angela Adebayo, during the ceremonial strike of the closing gong at the floor of the Exchange by Alawuba in honour of recently appointed UBA’s executive management, on Wednesday in Lagos

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Oliver Alawuba, has said that the bank’s consistent investment in strengthening its digital channels have been paying off as UBA is well-positioned to meet the growing demand of its customers across Africa and beyond.

Alawuba said this during the visit of the bank’s new Executives to the Nigerian Exchange Limited’s Head Office in Lagos on Wednesday. This follows the release of its Half-year 2022 financial results to the investing public last week.

Speaking on UBA’s driving factor over the past few years, he said, “We have invested so much in digital banking. We have great digital banking capabilities and we also have a growing customer base. Today we have over 30 million customers across various platforms and these customers are transacting. 90% of our transactions are done digitally and we are looking at 95% shortly. This has been helping us to ensure that we manage our cost of operations and to deliver excellent customer service to our customers overtime.”

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He explained that the bank’s foray into the larger African market 17 years ago continues to yield largely for the institution, as presently, activities in the Africa market account for over 50% of the banks’ profitability, with room for even more opportunities going forward.

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UBA New Executives at NGX 4: l-r: Group Company Secretary, UBA, Mr. Bili Odum; Executive Director Finance and Risk Management, UBA, Mr Ugo Nwaghodoh; Divisional Head(DH), Business Support Services, Nigerian Exchange Limited, Mrs Irene Robinson-Ayanwale; Deputy Managing Director, United Bank for Africa(UBA) Plc, Mr. Muyiwa Akinyemi; Director, Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Ltd , Erelu Angela Adebayo; Chief Executive Officer, NGX, Mr. Temi Popoola and Group Managing Director/CEO, United Bank for Africa(UBA) Plc, Oliver Alawuba; Executive Director, North Bank, UBA, Ms Emem Usoro and DH, Capital Markets, NGX; and Executive Director/GCOO, UBA, Mr Alex Alozie, during the ceremonial strike of the closing gong at the floor of the Exchange by Alawuba in honour of recently appointed UBA’s executive management, on Wednesday in Lagos

On plans and strategy for the remaining half of the year, Alawuba said, “As it stands, UBA can lead in Nigeria and in Africa, and we the new management are here to ensure that UBA takes the leadership position in every country we operate in. We will continue to focus on the customer. We are committed to our Customer 1st philosophy. The customer determines what we do at every point in time and we will ensure that we do all it takes to satisfy them optimally.”

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He also informed the Stock Exchange of UBA’s willingness to partner with the NGX to achieve its goals of unifying Africa, adding that “We are United Bank for Africa, Africa’s global bank and I believe that we can do a lot together especially with our common interest in Africa. The other African countries look to Nigeria to play a significant role and for us at UBA, our vision and mission is intertwined with Africa. And so as a bank, We can do a lot together with the NGX in the area of making sure that millennials and GenZ can key into the opportunities we have. we have digital banking platforms that we can make use of and we believe that in the next two to three years, there will be a lot of value that we will create for our shareholders and we know that this message will get to the trading floor and our shareholders to make them know that UBA is repositioning to help achieve their goals.“

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While welcoming the newly appointed executives to the Exchange, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Exchange Limited, Temi Popoola, commended the UBA Board, led by its Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu, for what he described as a well-thought out succession plan, which he noted was worthy of being emulated by other companies.

Popoola said, “For us at the Exchange, succession is very critical. UBA is very thoughtful and methodological about succession and we find this really encouraging. I want to congratulate you. Your track record in Nigeria and the rest of Africa speaks for itself and we are very confident that the UBA is well positioned to get on to its next phase.

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“We commend UBA for the work you do around sustainability. It is seen that for both investors and the entire capital market committee, the subject of sustainability and ESG has become more common and UBA has historically taken a lead on these issues,” Popoola continued.

UBA recently announced its audited financial results for the half year ended June 30, 2022, recording double-digit growth across key income lines. The Bank delivered a 12.6 per cent appreciation in profit before tax(PBT) to N85.7bn, up from N76.2bn recorded in the same period of 2021.

UBA is a leading pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than thirty-seven million customers across 1,000 business offices and customer touch points in 20 African countries.

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With presence in New York, London and Paris and now the UAE, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross-border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services.

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Chain Reactions in 7 star performance at 2024 SABRE awards

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It was a seven-star performance for Chain Reactions Africa (CRA), one of Africa’s leading Public Relations and Integrated Communications Consultancy as it took home seven African SABRE trophies, more than any other public relations firm in Africa in the 2024 competition.

The awards which were held at the end of the annual African Public Relations Association (APRA) Conference, were presented by Provoke Media, organizers of the awards in Basam, Abidjan, Cote D’Ivore on May 16th 2024.
The work covered campaigns for the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), and its Lagos Blue Rail, 9mobile’s The Hack – Expand Your Hustle’, ‘Taming the Bull’ for the Presidency, ‘Next Era of Happiness’ for leading biscuit company, Pladis Foods Nigeria Limited.

Receiving the awards on behalf of Chain Reactions and its clients, was its Managing Director/Chief Strategist, Israel Opayemi, who noted that this is a seven-star performance by Chain Reactions Africa at the 2024 SABRE Awards.

In his comments, Opayemi said “To emerge as the highest winner at the 2024 edition of the award with seven SABRE Awards is humbling as well as exciting for us at Chain Reactions Africa. We are immensely proud to be honoured on such a global platform like the SABRE awards which is the holy grail of Public Relations globally as the awards programme is dedicated to benchmarking the best PR works across the globe.”

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He continued, “I am making a three-fold dedication of these multiple trophies to our clients who believe in us, my team members who do the brave works relentlessly and our dear country Nigeria. Ten years ago, we were at the SABRE Awards in Miami, Florida in the United States watching and applauding as winners took turns on stage. Ten years ago, we were asking for a seat at the table. Today, we are sitting in creative resplendence at the head of the table. Today, we are flying the Nigerian flag on the global stage. We are now a territory of reckoning and relevance in the global PR space.”

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It seems winning awards is just a Chain Reactions thing, chuckled Arun Sudhaman CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Provoke Media, organizers of the SABRE Awards as Opayemi rose up seven times to receive the awards. The PR consultancy also picked up four Certificates of Excellence in recognition of its work launching the Nigerian Youth Trend Report 2024 known as ‘ARAMANDA’, ‘Next Era of Happiness’, ‘Lagos Blue Rail’, ‘The Hack – Expand Your Hustle’, and ‘Taming the Bull’.

In his reaction, the President and Chairman of the Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) described the awards by Chain Reactions Africa as “a harvest of honours for Nigeria”. He thanked the Chain Reactions Africa team for their outstanding work saying, “Thank you for making us proud.”

Chain Reactions Africa has over the years won several prestigious SABRE awards and has been awarded more than 15 Certificates of Excellence. At last year’s award, the company won CEO of the Year category for the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the use of public relations to tell the story of his administration’s achievements and scooped two Certificates of Excellence in the Corporate Image category for the ‘Momentum Campaign’ for Cellulant, a flagship payment solution provider; and ‘Marketing to Consumers’ category for ‘The #NaijaHighlandah Campaign’ for William Lawson’s, Scotch Whiskey brand.

The 2024 Africa SABRE Awards shortlist included more than 120 campaigns, selected from over 500 entries in this year’s competition, which recognizes Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement. The campaigns were evaluated by a jury of industry leaders.

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Port Harcourt refinery begins operation July

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The 210,000-barrel-per-day Port-Harcourt refinery may finally commence operations by the end of July after several postponements.

The new date was disclosed on Monday by the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu.

He stated that the development would stimulate economic activities, reduce the price of petroleum products and ensure adequate supply.

Last year in December, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, announced the mechanical completion and flare start-off of the biggest crude refinery in Port Harcourt.

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The refineries comprise two units, with the old plant having a refined capacity of 60,000 barrels per day and the new plant has 150,000 BPD.

The refinery shut down in March 2019 for the first phase of repair works after the government secured the service of a technical adviser of Itay’s Maire Tecnimont to handle the reviews of the refinery complex, with oil major Eni appointed technical adviser.

On March 15, 2024, it was reported that the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, stated that the Port Harcourt refinery would commence operations in about two weeks.

The NNPC boss disclosed this during a press briefing after he appeared before the Senate Ad hoc committee investigating the various turnaround maintenance projects of the country’s refineries.

He said, “We did a mechanical completion of the refinery that was what we said in December. We now have crude oil already stocked in the refinery. We are doing regulatory compliance tests that must happen in every refinery before you start it, and I assure you that this Port Harcourt refinery will start in two weeks.”

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However, the machinery had yet to begin operations two months after he made the promise.

In an exclusive interview on Monday, the IPMAN official stated that the work done represented a complete turnaround, not just rehabilitation, emphasising that every effort would be made to meet the July deadline.

Ukadike said, “Yes when we visited the place, the MD told us that the refinery was almost ready and by the end of July, they would start producing. It has been turned into a new one they changed all the armoured cable to brand new and everything there is almost like a brand-new refinery.

“The turnaround on maintenance is very massive and the job is being done day and night. All hands are on deck to make sure that they meet that target. By ending of July the refinery should be ready.”

When reminded of several promises by the government to kick start the project, Ukadike replied, “Yes, there have been delays but they didn’t tell us any reason for the delay of the last deadline given in April.

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“They are not facing any challenges at all; I can say the refinery is 99 per cent ready.

“What we want is competition. I am very sure that with the two refineries, the price of petrol will be reduced. Dangote is coming soon and the Port Harcourt refinery is almost ready too and that is very good. We need that competition for the benefit of the nation.”

The new timeline coincides with a proposal by the Dangote Refinery to commence petrol production by ending of next month (June).

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The Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, while speaking at the Africa CEO forum annual summit in Kigali, assured Nigerians that following the laid-down plans of the Dangote Refinery, Nigeria would no longer need to import petrol starting next month.

According to him, the refinery can meet West Africa’s petrol and diesel needs, as well as the continent’s aviation fuel demand.

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With an average monthly consumption of 1 billion litres, Nigeria currently spends approximately N520bn on the importation of PMS every month.

This means the government may cut approximately N6.2tn yearly import bill.

Commenting, the NNPCL Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Femi Soneye, said regulatory approvals from international bodies were the only impediment stalling the operational commencement of the refinery.

Soneye in an exclusive interview with our correspondent on Monday reiterated that mechanical completion had been achieved, and all pipes were operating flawlessly, transporting crude oil supplied by Shell.

He said, “We have said that the mechanical completion has been done and every other thing is done. There is crude oil and all the pipes are working; we are only waiting for regulatory approvals. Like I said, some of our materials and the things we use have to do with nuclear and we need the nuclear authorities to give us approval to use all those things at the site.

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“And some of these approvals come from bodies outside of Nigeria. Until they give us those approvals, we can’t begin operations. We are ready to go but if something happens without it, which would be another issue. Everything has been completed in terms of our work, and once we get those approvals, it will start operations.”

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Real estate firm approves N14.50 dividend

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SFS Real Estate Investment Trust says it will pay N14.50 per share as dividends to its shareholders for 2023.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of SFS Capital Nigeria Limited, Patrick Ilodianya, disclosed this during the company’s general meeting held on Tuesday in Lagos.

According to Ilodianya, the SFS Real Estate Investment Trust, formerly known as Skye Shelter Fund, a subsidiary of SFS Capital Nigeria, witnessed a 70 per cent growth in net income to N317.5m in 2023 from N186.6m in the prior year.

“Concurrently, we observed a growth in dividend payouts of 71.60 per cent, nearly doubling,” he stated.

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The managing director explained that despite encountering challenging market conditions, SFS REIT consistently delivered dividends every year since its inception.

“In 2023, SFS REIT is proposing a dividend of N14.50 per share, marking this the highest dividend ever distributed in the Fund’s 17-year history.

“To contextualise these achievements, consider an investor who acquired SFS REIT shares on January 1, 2023, at a share price of N77.00. This investor would witness a capital appreciation of N24.35 per share (31.62 per cent), with the current share price standing at N101.35 per share.

“The overwhelming demand for shares has rendered them currently unavailable for purchase, as demand far exceeds supply. A dividend payout of N14.50 per share translates to an 18.83 per cent return compared to the share price on January 1, 2023, resulting in an estimated total return of over 50 per cent annually,” Ilodianya enunciated.

He spoke further that SFS REIT had invested in multiple units within organised and efficiently managed residential estates along the expanding Lekki corridor.

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He listed some notable investments, including Milverton Court Estate, Victoria Crest V Estate, Sapphire Gardens Estate, Maben Phase 2 Estate, Bourdillon Court Estate, Victory Park Estate, and Cromwell Court Estate.

He added that real estate returns remain stable while adjusting to inflation and consistently appreciating under skilled fund managers.

“Within SFS REIT, our Average Occupancy rate exceeds 98 per cent, while the average rental default rate remains below 1.5 per cent. Over the years, we have implemented various Proptech initiatives aimed at optimising rent collection, increasing occupancy rates, and reducing default occurrences.

“Leveraging technology, we have streamlined our property acquisition and disposal processes, enhanced tenant sourcing and appraisal procedures, automated entry/access control, and facilitated electricity vending.

“With 17 years of experience under our belt, SFS Capital Nigeria Limited remains exceedingly optimistic about the future. Positioned strategically, we are poised to implement innovative strategies to expand the fund and enhance its yield. While our current dividend payout of N14.50 per share represents the pinnacle in the history of REITs, we anticipate no decline. Instead, we envision SFS REIT continuing to deliver higher dividends in the foreseeable future,” he concluded.

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