Sterling Bank Set to Improve on 2021 Performance
Following the consistent execution of its strategic business model of concentrating investments in five key sectors of the economy-Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable energy and Transportation, under its HEART of Sterling programme, Sterling Bank is set to surpass its 2021 performance in the new year, writes Ugo Aliogo
Despite the adverse economic headwinds that characterised the Nigerian macroeconomic environment in 2021, Sterling Bank Plc, Nigeria’s leading commercial bank has reported impressive financial performance during the period. The bank seems set to achieve this through the consistent execution of its strategic business model of concentrating investments in five key sectors of the economy under its HEART of Sterling programme. The five sectors are Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable energy and Transportation.
The Sterling Bank group posted a profit before tax (PBT) of N9.861 billion in the third quarter of 2021, a figure that is N1.837 billion higher than N8.024 billion made during the corresponding period in 2020. The bank also reported a PBT of N9.780 billion in the third quarter of 2021 as against N7.935 billion made during the same period in 2020, according to its consolidated unaudited group interim financial statement for the period ended September 30, 2021.
The Bank disclosed that its group’s profit after tax stood at N9.465 billion for nine months in 2021, which is N2.096 billion higher when compared to N7.369 billion gained in the same period of 2020 while recording N9.384 billion in the third quarter of 2021 as against N7.280 billion gained in 2020 within the same period.
Managing Director and CEO of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman explained that despite the impact of COVID-19 on global and local economies, the bank remains committed to providing financial services to its customers while also working towards mitigating the impact of future uncertainties for its staff and customers.
He added that, “Following our review of the current situation of the pandemic, the bank’s management remains confident of growth despite a mostly unpredictable economic environment.”
A review of the bank’s performance during the year shows that it deployed resources to support key sectors of the nation’s economy in line with its strategic focus areas.
In the past year, the bank has worked with Lagos, Cross River, Bayelsa, Kaduna and Ekiti state governments to build more robust and resilient structures in a bid to manage health emergencies better. In Cross River State in particular, the bank syndicated a consortium of partners in the design and implementation of a health insurance scheme, along with other policies, to digitise and improve access to records and ensure availability and delivery of much needed pharmaceuticals to create a de-risked health care value chain and improve health care availability.
Most recently, the Bank has worked with the Lagos State Government on its newly launched Mass Vaccination programme that expands vaccination points beyond publicly run primary healthcare centres to include privately owned facilities.
In his comments, the bank’s Divisional Head for Health Finance and Education Sectors, Mr. Obinna Ukachukwu, said the Bank has made innovative and strategic partnerships and investments, in both the public and private sectors, to improve healthcare and transform the industry. Including but not limited to providing free access to tele-medicine services, starting the Health Workers’ Fund to assist frontline health workers in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and building testing platforms for Covid-19 during the initial phase of the pandemic.
In the education sector and in line with its mission to improve the standard of education in the country, Sterling Bank provided interest-free financing for schools.
The bank also supported the Ake Arts and Books Festival for the third consecutive year with the 8th edition of the festival hosted online. The programme, which was held virtually for the second year running due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was headlined by Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature.
It featured 30 events, including book chats, panel discussions, documentary and film screenings, a poetry video album, an art show-case and a music concert. The festival also curated five intergenerational conversations that reflected the 2021 festival theme: Generational Discordance.
The three-day festival featured ‘The Life and Times Series’ event with Booker-Prize shortlisted author, Maaza Mengiste, in a conversation with the festival headliner, Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah.
In one of the key highlights of the festival, Professor Gurnah, a Tanzanian author, spoke about the invasion of East Africa and noted that until recently, most conversations about colonial presence in Africa had always excluded Germany. The Nobel Laureate, however, used his novel as a medium to narrate how Germany established colonies in present-day Namibia, Cameroon, Togo, parts of Tanzania and Kenya as well as Rwanda and Burundi.
Director and Founder of Ake Arts and Books Festival, Lola Shoneyin, used the occasion to commend Sterling Bank for supporting the festival over the years. She said, “Having Sterling Bank by our side makes our heads swell. From their commitment to the belief in the transformative power of our stories and for helping us document and archive our ideas, we thank you.”
Shoneyin said the Ake Festival has become the envy of cultural entrepreneurs and organisations across the African continent. She added that Sterling Bank has become the code word for companies that support the Arts with sincerity of purpose. Cultural activists across the continent often say they would love to have a ‘Sterling Bank’ to support them, she said.
Sterling Bank also hosted the Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA) for the third consecutive year in collaboration with Saro Africa, Leadway Assurance, Thrive Agric, AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, GIZ AFC, MasterCard Foundation and Stears Data, among others. The theme of ASA 2021 was ‘Building The New Agro Order.’
Some of the key highlights of ASA 2021 included the need to develop a flexible supply chain against uncertainty and innovative finance in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of its commitment to the development and growth of renewable energy in the country, Sterling Bank is blazing the trail as the first African corporate organisation to power its headquarters with solar energy with the installation ofBuilding Integrated PhotoVoltaic (BIPV) technology.
Sterling Bank’s Group Head, Energy, Mr. Dele Faseemo, said the on-going installation, being undertaken in Lagos Nigeria following the official nod received from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the relevant agency of the Lagos State Government, is a demonstration of the bank’s commitment to its vision of changing the Nigerian energy landscape towards the technologies of the future and impacting the nation’s energy economy remarkably.
With the HEART’s strategy firmly entrenched, the bank’s current move to transit to a holding company appears to be inevitable. Specifically, Sterling Bank recently obtained the approval-in-principle of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to restructure as a holding company and operate a non-interest business arm, Sterling Alternative Bank Limited.
Sterling Bank’s company secretary, Temitayo Adegoke, said the non-interest service will operate as a standalone bank, remarking that the non-Interest banking business will engage in trading, investment and commercial activities as well as the provision of financial products and services without the conventional interest charges.
“The approval is sequel to the approval-in-principle granted to the Bank for the restructuring as a holding company (HoldCo) and subject to the fulfillment of conditions as stipulated by the CBN, ”Adegoke said.
She said the Alternative Bank Limited will focus on building partnerships that connect individuals and businesses leveraging technology to create business optimisation while solving individuals’ daily financial needs.
“The overall business will focus on social impact, corporate responsibility, and ensure religious compliance in all its dealings, “she added.