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Gross Earnings: Union Bank Records 30% Increase

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Union Bank of Nigeria Plc has announced gross earnings of N147.32 billion for  the group for the financial year ended March 31, 2009, representing an increase of 30 per cent over last year’s figure of N112.99 billion.

In the same vein, gross earnings for the bank increased by 40 per cent from N92.94 billion in the preceding year to N130.19 billion during the period under review. The group’s total assets grew from N1.215 trillion achieved in the preceding year to N1.329 trillion in 2009, while the bank recorded N1.197 trillion from the figure of N993.93 billion recorded in 2008, indicating a growth rate of 21 per cent. Also, group’s deposits rose from N682.31 billion in 2008 to N772.13 billion, while the bank’s deposits increased from N649.33 billion to N758.39 billion in 2009 representing an increase of 17 per cent.

However, the full provision made for bad loans and other non-performing credits in a full swoop impacted negatively on the group’s profitability. The group’s profit before provisions stood at N39.74 billion at the end of 2009 financial year.

The increase in the provision for risk assets to N83.283 billion brought loss before taxation and exceptional items to N43.539 billion, compared to a profit of N33.012 billion in 2008.

The bank’s management, led by Mrs Funke Osibodu as Group Managing Director and Chief Executive, remains very optimistic that Union Bank would again assume its rightful position in the banking industry now that its books have been cleaned up and is poised to exploit the business opportunities arising from the gradual recovery in the global economy.

Mrs Osibodu also stressed the need for the esteemed customers to remain steadfast with the bank and increase their patronage, as the bank was being repositioned to them, thereby guaranteeing better value for shareholders in the years ahead.

The management of Union Bank has restructured its operation with a view to enabling it render world class services to customers globally.

Mrs Funke Osibodu, on assumption of office, had embarked on surprise visits to various branches of the bank across the country with a view of assessing the quality and map out strategy to improve the situation.

Although, two months after the visitations, many customers have attested to good transformations in customer services at Union Bank branches in terms of timely services, personal attention by staff, improved banking environment, facilities and information technology infrastructure.

Mrs Osibodu said the business process and infrastructure upgrade team of the bank has transformed many of the bank’s branches into modern banking offices with ambience such as the Davies  Street branch, Tinubu branch, Victoria Island branch, Foreshore Towers branch and Adeola Odeku branch among numerous owners.

Speaking at the Savings Bonanza Draw of the bank at Owerri, Imo State recently, the managing director encouraged the bank’s customers to spread the good news about the positive changes in the financial institution.

She informed the customers that the new changes in the leadership of Union Bank was intended to make the bank, more “Time tested, bigger, stronger, more more reliable”.

Osibodu pointed out that the changes were introduced to safeguard the interest of the shareholders and more importantly, those of the depositors.

She added that Union Bank is being repositioned to provide excellent services to its highly esteemed customers, thereby guaranteeing better value for stakeholders.

Union Bank was one of the five banks, whose top executives were fired on August 14 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for presiding over decisions that impaired the finances of the banks. Osibodu took over from the former Group Managing Director, Barth Ebong. The sum of N120 billion was injected into Union Bank from the N420 billion set aside for the five banks by the CBN.

Industry observes applaud the positive changes in the customer services of Union Bank, while acknowledging the fact that given the pedigree of the financial institution it could easily get over its challenges.

Union Bank has recovered substantial portion of its non-performing loans which has buoyed its liquidity. Aside its N1.128 trillion asset base, the bank has a deposit base of over N682 billion from a customer base of 4.82 million, the largest in the industry.

The bank boasts of the world class IT infrastructure, flexcube, which ensures a robust platform for electronic business as well as a rejuvenated workforce with the largest concentration of experienced and qualified  bankers which as at August 2009 stood at 6, 042.

Union Bank has restructured its processes tools, human capital and owner resources with a view to emerging the best in the industry. The acronym project GEAR, simply means G-gross the bank from good to great, E-eclipse the competition, A – aligning the bank’s strategy, people, processes and technology, R-redefine the bank’s position in the industry as leaders in the banking industry. The new managing director and chief executive officer had promised to focus on people management, business development and relationship management, risk management and control, all necessary to leap frog a bank’s core business, above any crisis situation.

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CBN Assures On Depositors’ Fund Safety 

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reassured the banking public of the safety of their deposits and the banking system’s resilience.
CBN’s Acting Director of  Corporate Communications Department, Mrs Hakama Sidi-Ali, gave the assurance in a statement on  Monday in Abuja.
The statement, a response to concerns raised about the stability of some Nigerian banks in the wake of Heritage Bank Plc’s license revocation, faulted claims that the CBN was considering revoking the operating licences of Fidelity, Polaris, Wema, and Unity Banks.
It also clarified that a circular issued by the Bank on January 10, 2024, notifying the public about the dissolution of the Boards of Union, Keystone, and Polaris Banks, was currently being circulated as though it was freshly issued.
According to the Director, Heritage Bank’s case was isolated.
“Allegations of further revocation of licences prior to the completion of CBN’s recapitalisation exercise are mere fabrications aimed at creating panic within the system”, Sidi-Ali said.
She stated that bank customers, particularly those of Heritage Bank, need not worry about the safety of their deposits, adding that the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) had commenced payment to the bank’s insured depositors.
The spokesperson urged members of the public to continue their regular banking activities without fear, dismissing any false reports regarding the health of specific Deposit Money Banks.
“The CBN, with its robust regulatory framework, is proactively ensuring the stability of Nigeria’s financial system, thereby guaranteeing the safety of depositors’ funds in all Nigerian financial institutions”, she said.
Sidi-Ali reiterated the assurances of the CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, that the recapitalisation of banks in Nigeria was intended to bolster the banking system and safeguard the sector against risks.

She urged all stakeholders to cooperate in ensuring the success of the process, which she said would be for the overall growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Without prejudice to the ongoing recapitalisation process, I want to restate that the Nigerian banking industry remains resilient. Key financial soundness indicators remain within current regulatory thresholds.

“Customers are, therefore, encouraged to proceed with their transactions as usual, as the CBN is committed to ensuring the safety of the banking system”, she said

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NERC Approves New Tariff Hike For Port Harcourt DisCo

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In spire of calls that the recently hiked “Band A” tariff be reversed, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has approved a new tariff hike for the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (DisCo).
NERC permitted the PHED to raise tariffs for Band A customers categorised as Maximum Demand 2 Special (A – MD2 Special).
MD customers are customers that have a load of 45kVA and above. They also operate and maintain their dedicated transformers.
From N206 per kilowatt-hour, this category of customers within the Port Harcourt franchise will now pay N225/KWh.
In a regulatory instrument tagged June 2024 Supplementary Order to the Multi-Year Tariff Order – 2024 (“June 2024 Supplementary Order”) for Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Plc, the NERC said the tariff approval was under the Tariff Review Application by PHED.
“Further to Section 23 of the MYTO-2024, this Supplementary Order seeks to reflect the changes in the pass-through indices outside the control of licensees including inflation rates, naira/dollar exchange rate, available generation capacity and gas price for the determination of Cost-Reflective Tariffs”, NERC stated.
The electricity regilator emphasised the basis for the review, saying the Naira to the US Dollar exchange rate of N1,469.06 per dollar has been adopted for June to December 2024. It said this has been determined by adding a 1 per cent transaction cost to the average foreign exchange rate of N1,454.52 during the period May 1 to 24, 2024 as obtained from the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
It also added that the Nigerian inflation rate of 33.69 per cent for April 2024 as published by the National Bureau of Statistics was applied to revise the Nigerian inflation rate projection for 2024.
“Under Section 116 of the Electricity Act and extant regulations, the commission has considered and approved for PHED, the tariffs (in Table 2) effective 1st June 2024. The approved tariffs shall remain in force subject to monthly adjustments of pass-through indices including inflation rates, naira/dollar exchange rates and gas-to-power prices.
“In line with the policy direction of the Federal Government of Nigeria on electricity subsidy, the allowed tariffs for Bands B – E customer categories shall remain frozen at the rates payable since December 2022 subject to further policy direction by the government.
“With this policy, the estimated subsidy benefit for customers under the PHED franchise in 2024 is approximately N11.49bn monthly”, the NERC stated.
In April, the NERC announced a new tariff for customers in Band A, from N68/KWh to N225/KWh.
It later reduced the tariff to N206.80/KWh based on the rebound of the naira.
Meanwhile, organised labour and manufacturers have kicked against the Band A tariff.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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AMJON Partners School To Train Journalists On Maritime Operations 

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The Association of Maritime journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) has gone into a mutually beneficial collaboration with School of Eloquence to strengthen the capacity and reporting skills of Maritime journalists.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Chairman, AMJON Organising Committee, Mr. Segun Oladipupo and made available to our correspondent in Lagos on Monday.
According to the statement, “This year’s edition, tagged “Special Edition”, is a collaborative effort between the foremost Public Speaking training School,  School of Eloquence and AMJON”.
Oladipupo said the training is slated to hold on Friday at the School of Eloquence premises at Osborne Road, Ikoyi.
“Experts from the Nigeria Customs Service, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and School of Eloquence have been lined up to train journalists on the rudiments of their own operations”, according to the statement.
Speaking, the President of AMJON, Paul Ogbuokiri, said journalism required constant training to be in tune with evolving trends in the industry.
According to him, journalism has taken a leap from what it used to be and journalists need to equip themselves with modern journalism tools that will help them to catch up with the trends.
“We need constant training and restraining to be relevant in this age of journalism. If we fail to update ourselves, we will soon fizzle out,
“This partnership with the School of Eloquence is a right step in the right direction. It will no doubt, energise our knowledge of reportage”, he stated.
On his part, the Chairman, Organising Committee, Segun Oladipupo, said the event would afford members the opportunity to take their reporting to enviable height
He, therefore, enjoined participants to seize the opportunity to learn new trends in journalism and also learn the business side of the job.
He thanked the School of Eloquence for providing a platform for Nigerian journalists to take a flight in their daily assignment.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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