UBA Looks to Africa for Growth

  • To extend operations to 25 countries

Chika Amanze-Nwachuku
In furtherance of its strategic vision to grow its revenue and franchise across the African continent, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group has announced plans to extend its banking operations to 25 countries on the continent.

Currently, UBA subsidiaries operate in 18 African countries, which at the end of the first quarter of 2016, contributed up to 28 per cent of the group’s operating revenue.
UBA Group Chairman, Mr. Tony Elumelu, disclosed this on Tuesday in an interactive session with journalists.

The group recently held its inaugural Senior Leadership Forum to review the impressive growth that the bank’s African network had made over the past 11 years, as well to provide a platform to reaffirm and embolden its strategic goals.

The forum, timed to coincide with UBA’s annual general meeting and group board meeting, which was convened by Elumelu, brought together 90 participants, including the entire board of UBA, all chairmen and CEOs of UBA subsidiaries across Africa and the United Kingdom.

In his opening remarks, Elumelu said: “We are one bank, the United Bank for Africa, bringing together our senior leadership talent from across the continent and the distinguished leaders who chair our subsidiary businesses are a powerful demonstration of our commitment to forge one bank for Africa.”

He added: “As long-term investors and pioneers in pan-African commercial and investment banking, we are deeply committed to the markets in which we operate and to harnessing the potential represented by the wider African economy.”
He restated the group’s goal to be the leader in Africa’s financial services sector, pointing to the group’s recent transaction track record as a testament of its coverage on the continent.

Elumelu said the bank is increasingly recognised as a strong pan-African brand, hailed for democratising banking in its countries of operation whilst participating in landmark financial transactions.

He listed the transactions to include the $1.2 billion oil financing agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Chevron, for which UBA will provide funding for Chevron and NNPC to develop 36 new oil wells that will significantly expand Nigeria’s oil production capacity.

Other landmark transactions include a $315 million facility to the Government of Ghana for road projects on the strength of road fund levies domiciled with UBA Ghana; the $250 million crude pre-payment facility for the Democratic Republic of Congo-based Orion Oil, representing the largest reported transaction structured by an African investment bank in 2015 involving fresh capital within the African market; and the 234 million euro oil and gas financing deal with Société Africaine de Raffinage (SAR) of Senegal.

Elumelu said the bank also released $180 million to Delta Energy Zambia for the procurement and supply of petroleum products to marketing companies in Zambia and the $90 million University of Dakar hostel construction project financed solely by UBA Senegal – African capital, building African infrastructure for African education.

The three-day leadership forum focused on the critical issues and drivers for success across the continent. Seminars were held on corporate governance, corporate institutionalisation, board effectiveness, compliance, accountability, and more.

Chairman of UBA Senegal, Mr. Fogan Sossah commented: “We have done a lot but in some sense we are only beginning to reap the rewards of our network and potential. We are a truly pan-African institution and after a period of consolidation, we know that the continuing expansion of our African footprint is a key goal.
“We must ensure that we have presence in at least 25 countries in the near to medium-term, starting from the UMOA and CEMAC zones.”

On her part, Chairman of UBA Democratic Republic of Congo, Mrs. Gisele Mudiay said: “Our aspiration for the next five years is to pool the knowledge of our individual operating environments and leverage that knowledge to help our customers realise their business goals.”
The Chairman of UBA Cameroon, Mr. Ekoto Mukete did not leave out the difficulties that exist in operating in the diverse economic environments across the African continent.

He said: “While we operate in challenging business environments, we benchmark ourselves against global standards, which means we are able to add real value to our stakeholders.
“This forum has ensured that we are an army of one, working in each corner of Africa and driving toward one common goal.”

The approval of additional injection of capital into its East African subsidiaries in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania was communicated at the forum, as the group re-affirmed its commitment to growth in its countries of operations across the continent.

Commenting on the importance of consolidating pan-African financial expertise and exporting the successful Nigerian model, the incoming Group MD/CEO and previous head of UBA Africa, Kennedy Uzoka said: “I have experienced the potential of our pan-African businesses. I know that we can and I commit to ensuring our leadership across Africa.

“The Senior Leadership Forum reaffirms UBA’s ambition to be the leading pan-African bank across key indices – brand equity, human capital, customer service and profitability.”
Other issues discussed at the forum included Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies and compliance standards across the group.

The Group Compliance Officer, Uche Ike stated that “compliance is non-negotiable. We operate as a global bank, in global centres. We have seen how swiftly, internationally and within Africa, banks have lost hard earned reputations, through laxity in policy compliance and we will not tolerate this in the UBA Group”.

The forum coincided with the 54th Annual General Meeting of UBA, where participants were also able to celebrate the bank’s strong financial performance, just as the week-long activities culminated in the recognition of staff at the annual UBA CEO Awards ceremony.
UBA reported strong financial results in 2015, in what is largely recognised as a challenging macro-environment. Gross earnings were N315 billion, while operating profit stood at almost N70 billion.

UBA Africa operations contributed approximately 24 per cent of these earnings but are expected to grow significantly and over time contribute as much as 50 per cent to overall group profitability.
Other than Africa, UBA has operations in three global financial centres: London, Paris and New York.

From a single country operation in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, UBA has evolved into a pan-African provider of banking and related financial services, to more than 11 million customers through diverse channels globally.