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Union Bank Sells UK Subsidiary

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Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) Plc has entered a share sale and purchase agreement to divest its 100 per cent equity stake in its United Kingdom (UK) subsidiary, Union Bank UK (UBUK) Plc.

In a regulatory filing just released at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the board of Union Bank stated that the sale was in line with the bank’s strategy to geographically streamline its business operations to focus on growth opportunities in Nigeria.

According to the bank, following a competitive bid process, MBU BidCo Limited (MBU), an acquisition vehicle wholly owned by MBU Capital Limited (MBU Capital), was selected as the preferred bidder. The completion of the sale is however still subject to regulatory approvals from the relevant regulatory authorities in Nigeria and the UK.

MBU Capital is an investment management firm founded in 2013 and based in Mayfair, London. MBU Capital has active interests in financial services, healthcare, education, real estate and technology. MBU Capital (UK) LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Chief Executive Officer, Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) Plc, Emeka Emuwa said the bank decided that as the banking landscape shifts towards digital and agency banking to drive financial inclusion, the Nigerian market presents robust long-term opportunities for it.

He pointed out that the divestment allows the bank to channel its focus and capital towards mining the Nigerian opportunities fully.

“Through the sale, we are better positioned to deliver greater value to the organisation and its stakeholders as well as continue to build the future of banking in Nigeria. The terms of the sale of UBUK delivers substantial value to our shareholders, while also entrusting its customers and trading partners to a high-quality financial services institution which will work with existing management to deliver a stronger and more profitable entity,” Emuwa said.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, MBU Capital, Mohammed Iqbal said the investment group was delighted with the acquisition, describing it as a huge opportunity to build on UBUK’s strengths in international markets to create a new-style bank which is focused on the needs of UK and international SMEs and entrepreneurs.

According to him, many customers are seeking a bank which truly understands the needs of entrepreneurial, fast-growing businesses.

“We believe that our acquisition and vision for UBUK offers the potential for significant growth for the bank. We look forward to working with our new colleagues at UBUK to continue to service the needs of its clients. We also look forward to sustaining and deepening relationships with UBUK’s existing trading partners,” Iqbal said.

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Business

Naira Crashes In Value, Dollar Sells For N420

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On Thursday, the naira exchanged between N405 and N420 to a dollar in the Bureau De Change segment of the market, Punch reports

The President, Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria, Aminu Gwadabe, said the crude oil price which fell drastically in the international market to as low as $35 per barrel, raised speculations among the BDC operators and Nigerians in general.

He said this caused speculations in the market which were not necessary.

Gwadabe said, “With the fall in oil crude oil prices on Monday, we witnessed a lot of foreign investors portfolio dropping their assets, most especially to convert to cash.

“The movement was as a result of recklessness on the side of the operators, when they want to speculate, but there is no reason for such because the Central Bank of Nigeria had continued to maintain support for liquidity to the BDC sub-sector.”

While noting that the dollar sold for as high as N400, he said sanity was gradually returning to the sector as it sold for N375 by the close of the day.

According to him, the CBN had maintained stability at N360 in more than three years.

He said in its meeting with the CBN on Thursday, the regulator warned the BDCs against contraventions.

The ABCON president disclosed that the CBN wanted to revoke the licences of some BDCs for various infractions but fined over 100 BDCs over N5m for various offences.

Another BDC operator who spoke with our correspondent said, “When we woke up on Monday, the exchange was still about N360, but all of a sudden, because of the fall in crude oil price, people were panicky.

“Today, we still sold for up to N420 but the price was fluctuating.”

The CBN also expressed its displeasure on the issue in a statement, saying the speculative activities of unscrupulous players in the foreign exchange market was borne out of the impression that the CBN was on the verge of devaluing the Naira, and triggering panic in the FX Market.

“These rumours are false, unwarranted and calculated to serve their dubious and selfish ends,” it stated.

It added, “We have begun a robust and coordinated investigation in collaboration with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and related agencies to uncover the unscrupulous persons and FX dealers who are creating this panic, and the full weight of our rules and regulations will be meted out to them, including, but not limited to, being charged for economic sabotage.”

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N2.5trn Financing For One million Farmers On The Way

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Commodities Exchange Limited has initiated moves to raise N2.5 trillion for 1 million farmers in the next five years.

Addressing journalists at the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony in Abuja on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer of AFEX, Ayodeji Balogun said “AFEX is on a path to building Africa’s second commodities derivative market,

The MoU was signed between AFEX, FMDQ and Dubai Gold and Commodity Exchange (DGCX).

Ayodeji Balogun noted that this partnership sets the tone for that journey.

He noted that AFEX develop product innovations that will unlock a wider range of products that are able to be traded within Nigeria’s capital markets to promote broad-based wealth creation that’s accessible to every Nigerian.

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Dangote Refinery To Employ Over 70,000 Workers — CBN

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele has said Dangote Refinery will employ over 70,000 Nigerians when it begins operation.

He said the various policies of the Federal Government will ultimately reduce unemployment in the country.

The apex bank’s governor, who addressed reporters after touring the refinery at the weekend, said the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical plant is expected to increase its workforce from the current 34,000 to over 70,000 when it becomes operational.

Also, President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said he is on a mission to aggressively reduce the unemployment in the country.

He said the plant would also retain foreign exchange as Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in petroleum refining.

“Besides, we are going to help in terms of not only creating jobs but also in reducing the outflow of foreign exchange, not only in petroleum products but also in petrochemicals and in fertilisers. We would be one of the highest foreign exchange generating companies, going forward,” Dangote said.

According to him, the company’s $2 billion granulated urea fertiliser plant at Ibeju-Lekki in Lagos State will begin operations in May.

The foremost industrialist said the fertiliser plant would make Nigeria the only urea exporting country in sub-Saharan Africa and biggest producer of polyethylene, which is capable of generating $2.5 billion annually.

He said: “Nigeria will soon become the biggest and only urea exporter in sub-Saharan Africa, for the first time. And we are not only exporting, we would be exporting, big time.

“We are also going to have polyethylene, which is about 1.3 million tonnes annually. These two products would bring in about $2.5 billion annually in terms of foreign exchange. A lot of forex would now come in and that $2.5 billion is only about 10 per cent of remittances.”

Dangote said a pre-testing of the fertiliser plant had begun, adding that the project would be the largest fertiliser plant in the world with its 3 million tonnes per annum capacity.

According to him, the refinery, which is at 48 per cent completion, will make Nigeria the largest exporter of petroleum products in Africa.

Dangote said the size of the project necessitated the construction of a jetty to take care of the over-dimensional cargoes.

“It is a huge project. That is why we have built a jetty and the pipeline through which we are bringing in the crude.

“One of the reasons the CBN is supporting us is that by the time we become operational, we will not only be creating jobs but we will reduce the outflow of foreign exchange not only in petroleum products but in petrochemicals and fertilisers.

“We will be one of the highest foreign exchange generating companies, going forward.

“I must really confess that without the government’s support, there is no way we could have done what we have done so far.

“I think we must thank Mr President for his policies. I thank the CBN governor and management for bringing down interest rates to encourage more entrepreneurs to go into mega projects like this.

“We should not wait for foreign investors to come and develop our economy. It will never happen. So, we have to do it ourselves, and the only way to do it is to take advantage of the low interest rates and the banks being forced to loan money out,” he added.

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