Written by Collins Nweze
Capital is crucial in driving sustainable Small and Medium Enterprises’(SMEs’) growth and uplifting the economy. First Bank of Nigeria Limited, as part of the launch of its specialised SMEs’ propositions, has continually supported SMEs through diverse initiatives. The bank says its support for SMEs is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive on improved funding for SMEs to ensure economic growth and development.
The economies of great nations thrive on the strength and performance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) seen as engine of growth.
For Nigeria, the Central Bank (CBN) defines SMEs as enterprises with asset base (excluding land) of between N5 million and N500 million and labour force of 11 and 300 people.
The benefits of funding SMEs have attracted many banks with eye on the future to invest and support SMEs in the interest of the economy.
For SMEs to achieve these goals, operators’ easy access to credit must be promoted.
First Bank of Nigeria Limited is one of the banks that is investing and supporting SMEs. Following research by the bank over the years, it identified these seven strategic pillars that are essential to the sustainability and growth of the SMEs.
These include access to infrastructure, access to talent, capacity building, policy and regulation, access to resources, access to market as well as access to finance.
The bank has also held its SMEs’ Week in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano and Owerri. The week-long event was rounded off with a live webinar, facilitated by Gbenga Shobo, the bank’s Deputy Managing Director.
According to Shobo, “FirstBank has, over the years, been at the forefront of supporting businesses, especially the SMEs, as we recognise that the SMEs are the engine of the economy.
We are committed to ensuring that we leave no stone unturned as we connect with them in their continued contribution to national development in terms of the employment opportunities they create as well as their contribution to the nation’s GDP amongst many economic values.
“The FirstBank SME Week is driven to promote the Bank’s SME proposition, thereby having SMEs across the country optimally enlightened on how to plug in. We believe this will help SMEs bolster their contribution to the growth and development of the economy.”
The 2019 Nigeria banking industry customer experience survey report recently published by KPMG Nigeria showed that in the retail segment, the top two performers have remained the same for the fourth consecutive year.
GTBank, Zenith Bank are top-rated bank in the 2019 ranking. Sterling Bank, FirstBank and UBA are the biggest movers in 2019, coming in third, fifth and seventh places.
Commitment to fashion and entrepreneurship
FirstBank sponsored the Sixth Africa Fashion Week, which held last December in Lagos.
The event themed ‘’Africa Unites’’ was a convergence of fashion entrepreneurs and the public to promote the creativity and innovation of Nigerian and African brands through worldwide visibility, distribution and manufacturing.
Dignitaries at the event include wives of the Ekiti, Ogun and Kwara state governors, Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun and Mrs Folake Abdulrazaq. The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; former Director-General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation,Mrs Omotayo Omotosho; television presenter and model, Idia Aisen; model and beauty influencer, Whitney Madueke were also there. FirstBank was represented by Helen Ogboh, Business Manager, Corporate Banking.
Speaking on FirstBank’s sponsorship of the event, the Bank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney, said: “We are pleased to identify with Africa Fashion Week Nigeria as it showcases creativity by African fashion designers to the teeming public, leading players and enthusiasts of African fashion while promoting their contribution to the growth of the fashion industry.
“We will continue to drive advocacy for this as it can create jobs that will deepen opportunities for the revival of our textile industry resulting in SMEs’growth along the value chains especially, with the growing demand in the fashion industry.”
Recently, the bank promoted the use of local fabrics with a ‘What If’ campaign to commemorate the country’s Independence. It ran across the social media channels, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, focusing on the creativity of sewing local fabrics as a national symbol vis-a-vis our outfits, clothing accessories, household furniture, in line with the bank’s celebratory 125th Anniversary, themed, “Woven into the Fabric of Society”.
Ani-Mumuney said the bank would continue to empower the society, including the support for small businesses and promotion of the growth of the entertainment industry.
Also, on the list of fashion sponsorship credentials of the Bank is the Fashion Souk, as well as Street Souk organized in partnership with Eventful Limited. Ani-Mumuney said “Street Souk was designed to encourage the youth to channel their talents to genres as music, arts and fashion. It’s a platform that identifies opportunities, which promote the innovative spirit in youngsters.
She noted that Street Souk was tied to the FirstBank’s initiative to empower the society, including small business owners. According to her, the initiative is also tied to the promotion of the entertainment industry.
Manager XIIG Glover, a merchant at the Street Souk, Mr Obembe Abiola, said he was happy to be part of last year’s (2019) street trading.
“We are here to showcase what we also have as a brand which is African made and to reach out to people to know about the brand. Last year (in 2018), we were also here and it was a great time out to meet up with new clients, customers and to meet up with other brands and this year is a lot more better than last year. We are large in number, new faces and everything is going on fine,” Abiola said. He commended FirstBank for organising the event aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship.
Also, Creative Director, Dmf Designs & Shopwith5k, Adebayo Bankole, a participant, said she was glad to showcase her brand to people. “I have finally found my target audience here, people that are interested in street Souk culture in Nigeria. They are my target audience,” Bankole said.
She stated that sales had been very amazing and that it was worth-while being part of this year’s Street Souk.
“I really appreciate the fact that FirstBank is doing this because most banks go for ankara or made- in-Nigeria but this is promoting a different culture in Nigeria. Street trading is not common in Nigeria, the fact that FirstBank is able to support the promotion of street Souk in Nigeria is amazing,” Bankole added.
The bank also said it would remain committed to the Federal Government’s diversification drive with the development of agricultural value chain to boost employment.
FirstBank’s Chairman, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, stated this at last year’s edition of ‘Food Souk’, an event the Bank convened in partnership with Eventful Limited, an events management firm.
Mrs Awosika said the bank would continue to support the agricultural value chain from production to consumption to create opportunities for SMEs in the food sector to create job opportunities. “As you have noticed, we have been doing a chain of Souks with Eventful. It is critical for the economy of the nation that we encourage the SMEs sector across different industries,” she said.
According to her, the Food Souk was introduced to diversify the economy through agricultural development. “When we have 200 million people, food is big business because everybody will eat. So, what we are trying to do is in support of the nation’s building. We are seeking to encourage small, medium and big enterprises in different sectors of the economy.
“One is to help create jobs because if we think that 65 per cent of our population is made up of people under 40 years and the highest unemployment rate is within the segment that is between 20 and 35, so you need to create jobs.
“But you will only create jobs when you create entrepreneurs, as we create more businesses you are creating job opportunities,” Mrs Awosika said.
She added that the bank’s focused on the growth of the economy with the hope it would benefit from it as a provider of financial services. “As we grow the economy, as we build lives of Nigerians, as we support the government’s investment in the diversification of the economy and help to create jobs through the enterprises we will ultimately benefit,” Mrs Awosika stated.
The Chairman said FirstBank, the largest retail bank in the country, would continue to support growth and development of SMEs. “A lot of big businesses of today that grew in Nigeria are businesses we supported from scratch. “We are starting with different generations of new businesses and events like this help you to see the trends. It helps you to see the companies that need nurturing.
“It helps you to see the companies that you can support. It also gives you information about how you can best support them and engage them in their terrain to see businesses and understand their feelings to create the kind of product that will support their businesses,” Mrs Awosika said.
A food vendor, Ms Ijeoma Ebeneme, the Chief Executive Officer, JEM N Iris, commended FirstBank for putting the event together. Ebeneme said she was at the fair to make profit, meet new clients as well as create the needed publicity for her brand. Food Souk, formerly known as Fiesta of Flavours, is a food and wine fair, that holds yearly at Harbour Point in Victoria Island, Lagos, since its premier edition in 2015.
The fun food and beverage fair hosted by Eventful and sponsored by FirstBank provides an avenue for attendees to experience the entertainment, art and business of food. It showcases the best in local and international cuisine, cutting-edge food technology and cooking techniques, and the best beverages, wines and spirits the world offers. It provides management and training seminars, food demonstrations and performances.
KIA MOTORS UNVEILS THE SONET
– AN ALL-NEW SMART URBAN COMPACT SUV, MADE IN INDIA FOR THE WORLD
Kia Motors Corporation, one of the world’s largest automakers, revealed the Kia Sonet to the world today in a digital presentation. Manufactured at Kia’s state-of-the-art production facility at Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, the Sonet is Kia’s all-new smart urban compact SUV, and the brand’s latest made-in-India global product after the Seltos. The new Sonet marks Kia Motors’ entry into the burgeoning compact SUV segment, and sets new benchmarks with its first-in-class features.
The world premiere of the production-ready model follows the global unveiling of the Sonet concept at the Delhi Auto Expo in February 2020. Sales of the new car will commence soon in India, with sales in many of Kia’s global markets due to follow.
“Kia Motors continues to be recognised globally through products which offer exquisite design and world-class quality, along with ‘The Power to Surprise’. Everything about the all-new Sonet is uniquely Kia and is sure to delight both drivers and passengers,” said Ho Sung Song, President and CEO at Kia Motors Corporation. “With its aggressive and modern design language, fun-to-drive dynamics, and Kia’s latest high-tech features, the Sonet puts an exclamation point on our ambition to make Kia the brand of choice, especially among millennial and Gen Z consumers. The Sonet fills a need in the growing SUV market, in India and further afield, and will attract a wider number of consumers to the Kia brand.”
“We are extremely excited to introduce the Sonet, which is made in India for the world. After the success of the Seltos and Carnival, we are confident that Kia will revolutionise yet another market segment in India with the Sonet by addressing the unmet needs and aspirations of customers,” said Kookhyun Shim, MD and CEO at Kia Motors India. “The Kia Sonet is designed and developed to deliver a best-in-class experience in quality, design, technology, features and drivability to attract a wide spectrum of customers across segments. The Sonet will be produced at our state-of-the-art Anantapur plant to Kia’s exacting global standards, and we are sure it will be received with enthusiasm by new customers and existing fans of the brand alike.”
The all-new Sonet incorporates Kia’s DNA of emotive styling along with a premium and youthful appeal to create a strong road presence. Displaying a dynamic stance in a confident, compact body, the Sonet showcases a range of styling attributes to make it stand apart on roads around the world. This includes a fresh interpretation of Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille, flanked by ‘heart beat’ LED DRLs (daytime running lights), shaped like the electric pulse of a heart, with a stylish front skid plate beneath. Its sporty silhouette is enhanced by the unique design and structure of its C-pillar, matched with a wraparound rear-windscreen. The ‘heart beat’ LED tail lamps also adorn the rear.
Inside, the Sonet is designed around the driver, with a well laid-out, easy-to-use connected infotainment and cluster interface, and high quality materials all around. Despite compact exterior dimensions, the interior of the Sonet offers ample, ergonomic space for all passengers.
The Sonet will be offered with multiple powertrain options to suit virtually all requirements in this segment. A choice of two gasoline engines – a versatile Smartstream 1.2-liter four-cylinder and powerful 1.0 T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) – and an efficient 1.5-liter CRDi diesel engine are available with a choice of five transmissions. This includes five- and six-speed manuals, an intuitive seven-speed DCT six-speed automatic, and Kia’s revolutionary new six-speed Smartstream intelligent manual transmission (iMT). The latter is a technological breakthrough from Kia, offering fatigue-free driving thanks to the absence of a clutch pedal, yet the same driver control as a conventional manual transmission. For the first time in this segment, the Sonet also offers its 1.5-liter diesel engine with the six-speed automatic transmission.
The Sonet’s dynamics and suspension set-up have been tuned by Kia engineers to match its exuberant design and Kia’s sporty and youthful brand image, offering high driving pleasure for enthusiasts.
To suit the requirements of a wide array of customers, the Sonet will be offered in a dual trim concept. This includes the sporty GT-Line trim which enhances the Sonet’s racy appeal for enthusiasts via its multiple design and functional elements, both inside and out. GT-Line models offer an extra dash of sportiness to the Sonet and highlight its dynamic presence on the road.
What’s more, the Sonet is loaded with multiple segment-first features offering complete comfort, convenience, safety and optimum driving pleasure to customers. This includes:
- Largest and best-in-class 10.25-inch (26.03 cm) HD touchscreen with navigation and live traffic
- Smart Pure Air Purifier with virus protection
- BOSE Premium seven-speaker audio with sub-woofer
- Ventilated driver and front-passenger seats
- LED Sound Mood Lighting
- Remote engine start for automatic and manual transmission via Smart Key
- Over-the-air (OTA) map updates
- Multi-drive & traction modes and grip control for automatic models
- Wireless smartphone charger with cooling function
The all-new Kia Sonet is testament to Kia’s focus on consumer insight-driven product innovation and orientation. It is targeted towards the young generation who are tech-savvy, aspirational and highly connected socially. The Sonet will be launched in India this festive season, in line with Kia Motors India’s promise of offering an all-new product every six to nine months.
The Sonet is all-new, developed and engineered from the ground-up jointly between Kia Motors India and Kia’s global R&D headquarters in South Korea. The production Sonet has been built following extensive market input from India, especially relating to its design, engine and transmission tuning and characteristics, suspension attributes, and the high-tech features it offers. The Sonet has been through extensive road tests in India, where Indian and South Korean engineers in Sonet prototypes covered over 100,000 kilometers across diverse terrain, driving situations, and climatic conditions. The outcome is a compact SUV designed to turn heads on the road, engineered to offer driving pleasure, built to world-leading quality standards, and offered with segment-busting convenience, comfort, safety and features.
The youthful and energetic design of the Kia Sonet is the outcome of a collaborative effort between the Kia Design Center in Namyang, South Korea and the design team located in India. Kia’s entry into the compact SUV market was first seen by the world at the Delhi Auto Expo in February 2020, where the Sonet smart urban SUV concept was showcased. The brief for the production-ready model was to make it distinctive by design in this highly competitive segment, and present a sporty, youthful outlook. Inspired by modern styling trends, as well as traditional Indian heritage and culture, the Sonet’s exterior styling truly stands apart – not just in its category, but amongst SUVs in general.
Kia’s award-winning design strengths have come into play to make the Sonet every inch a Kia SUV, exemplifying the brand’s confident, young-at-heart attitude, a sporty, rebellious spirit, and a wild-by-design approach. The outcome is a striking SUV design and irresistible road presence that will turn heads in countries around the world.
At the front, the brand’s signature design trait – the Kia ‘tiger-nose’ grille – is reinterpreted to suit the Sonet’s personality. Flanked by ‘heart beat’ LED DRLs and stylish front skid plates below, the wild nature of the Sonet comes alive. Within the tiger-nose grille, with its classy chrome and diamond knurling pattern, is the distinctive grille mesh featuring a three-dimensional geometric design inspired by India’s iconic stepwells. The grille mesh design pays respects to India’s historic strengths in sophisticated mathematics, science and architecture.
The profile is imparted a strong, sporty character thanks to the shape of the hood and bumper, with a cowl point pushed back for an upright stance, a strongly raked A-pillar, and a round roofline that reflects styling. At the rear, ‘heart beat’ LED tail lamps and its unique reflector garnish give the Sonet even greater presence and impart a wider look. Additional highlights at the rear include a sporty dual muffler design and diffuser fin rear skid plate.
The Sonet’s lighting makes it stand out from everything else in this segment. Jewel-like LED headlamps frame the ‘face’ of the car, with ‘heart beat’ LED DRLs with integrated indicators and similar LED tail lamps make the Sonet’s wild personality come alive through its design. Riding on sharp-looking 16-inch crystal -cut alloys in a racy design, the overall impression of the Sonet is that of a strong, powerful and sporty silhouette with a dynamic stance that is hard to miss.
Furthermore, the Sonet is offered with up to eight monotone and three dual-tone exterior color options.
The Sonet will be offered in a dual trim concept which includes a sports-inspired GT-Line trim, a visible manifestation of Kia’s spirit and luxury appeal, for customers who want an extra dash of sportiness, luxury, safety and attitude with their Sonet.
Inside, the Sonet offers a sophisticated and lively cabin with a smooth, flowing dashboard to appeal to young-at-heart and always-connected consumers. Keeping the comfort of the driver and passengers in mind, the Sonet’s interior offers a modern, dynamic and bold outlook. Intelligent packaging has liberated plenty of leg room, head room and shoulder room for all passengers, and created a large trunk.
The stylish and clutter-free center console offers a hi-tech feel and easy access to many of the Sonet’s segment-busting features. The Sonet is trimmed in high-quality material throughout, with its dashboard displaying unique detailing. GT-Line models are finished with contrast red stitching on the steering wheel, seats and door armrest, while a D-cut steering wheel adds to its sporty appeal. Ventilated driver and front passenger seats are one-of-a-kind in this category, reinforcing Kia’s ‘Power to Surprise’ philosophy.
Taking center stage on the dashboard is the largest-in-segment 10.25-inch (26.03 cm) HD touchscreen with infotainment and navigation system – a display that confirms Kia’s premium positioning in the compact SUV segment. Additionally, the 4.2-inch (10.66 cm) instrument cluster presents important information to the driver in vivid color and clarity, such as turn-by-turn navigation instructions, Highline Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and drive mode and traction mode selection.
The Sonet aims to delight occupants inside. To create a concert-like ambience, the Sonet is the only vehicle in its category to offer audio performance from BOSE, with a premium seven-speaker system with sub-woofer. Other mood enhancers include the LED Sound Mood Lighting, introducing a level of personalisation unique to this segment, as well as a wireless smartphone charger with cooling function, exclusive to the Sonet.
Additionally, to further promote the safety of drivers and their loved ones, the Sonet is equipped with Kia’s Smart Pure Air Purifier with virus protection. This feature sets the Sonet apart in its segment and once again sets a new benchmark in its category. The new Smart Pure Air Purifier in Sonet has a two-level purification system. The pollutant-cleansing HEPA filter incorporates N29 which uses fiber made from nano-ionic bonding technology of copper sulphide, to remove pollutants and bacteria from the cabin. The second level of filtration is achieved through UVC LED, scientifically proven to kill bacteria and viruses. The system not only effectively cleans out pollutants from the cabin, but also kills bacteria and viruses as it cleans the air.
Powertrain and performance
In keeping with Kia’s motto of ‘The Power to Surprise’, the Sonet offers a surprisingly wide range of powertrain choices in its class. With a choice of three engines and five transmissions, there is an engine-transmission combination for virtually every customer need in this segment. Two petrol engines – a versatile Smartstream 1.2-liter four-cylinder and powerful 1.0 T-GDi – and an efficient 1.5-liter CRDi diesel engine are offered.
The Sonet comes with five transmission options: five- and six-speed manuals, an intuitive seven-speed DCT, six-speed automatic, and Kia’s revolutionary new six-speed Smartstream intelligent manual transmission. Additionally, automatic variants of the Sonet offer Multi-Drive and Traction Modes for added convenience, driver-confidence and safety.
The 1.5-liter diesel engine is offered with a six-speed manual, and, uniquely in in its segment, with a six-speed automatic transmission, an unmet need in this segment to-date. Customers can enjoy the long-legged cruising ability of a diesel engine with the comfort and convenience of an automatic transmission.
Smartstream six-speed iMT
The Sonet is equipped with this revolutionary gearbox, offering a balance between control and convenience. The six-speed Smartstream intelligent manual transmission will redefine the driving experience in India. The iMT is unique in the sense there is no clutch pedal, but there is a gear lever. The clutch is electronically actuated when the driver intends to change gears using the lever, re-engaging when the shift is complete. A sensor detects the movement of the gear lever and disengages the clutch smoothly. When the gears are engaged, the clutch re-engages and gear shift is completed.
The intention sensor is programmed not to activate with only small movements – for instance, if the driver knocks the shift lever. Instead, it sends a signal only when the gear lever has shifted further than a programmed threshold. Essentially, one can drive it like a manual transmission car without having to engage the clutch pedal. This system has been tested extensively on Indian roads in typical Indian driving conditions, and programmed to offer a seamless, smooth and enjoyable driving experience.
Highlights of the Smartstream six-speed iMT
- Less driver fatigue: no need to use a clutch pedal, especially in stop-go traffic
- Longer clutch life: electronically actuated, with no opportunity to ride the clutch
- Smoother ride: clutch release is seamless, offering a smooth manual gear change
What’s more, the iMT has been carefully engineered to anticipate all driving conditions. For example, during a hill-start, an RPM control module prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards. The innovative gearbox has also been programmed not to stall when it sitting in a higher gear at low speeds. The system is intuitive and will feel familiar to drivers of all experience levels.
Ride and handling
In keeping with Kia brand’s sporty, bold and youthful brand persona, the Sonet’s driving characteristics have been tuned to provide an enjoyable experience behind the wheel for driving enthusiasts. The suspension set-up as well as feedback from the electrically-assisted power steering, have been honed to offer a sporty driving experience, providing plenty of feedback to the driver.
The ride and handling has been fine-tuned by Kia engineers at the brand’s Namyang R&D headquarters in Korea and at the brand’s Development Center at Anantapur, in Andhra Pradesh. Sonet prototypes have been driven and tested for over 1,00,000 kilometres on Indian roads, and across a variety of conditions, resulting in a driving character that offers a compliant ride quality and high comfort without compromising on its sporty spirit.
Customer Safety is an utmost priority for Kia Motors globally. More than two thirds of the Sonet’s body is made up of high strength and advanced high strength steel, creating a lightweight yet robust structure. Furthermore, Kia has ensured that every drive in the Sonet is as relaxing and safe as possible thanks to an array of safety measures, created in line with Kia’s own five pillars of safety: Active, Passive, Health, Security and Maintenance. Among the Sonet’s key safety features are:
- Six airbags
- ABS (anti-lock braking system) with EBD (electronic brake force distribution)
- ESC (Electronic Stability Control), HAC (Hill-start Assist Control), VSM (Vehicle Stability Management) and BA (brake assist)
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Projector fog lamps
- Highline tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
- Auto headlamps
- ISOFIX child-seat anchoring points
FIRSTBANK HOSTS FINTECH SUMMIT 4.0, PROMOTES THE GROWTH AND REINVENTION OF BANKING TECHNOLOGY IN NIGERIA
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that the 2020 edition of its annual FinTech Summit is scheduled to hold on Thursday, 6 August 2020 by 12.00 noon. The event will be virtually held via Zoom Meetings.
The 2020 edition of the summit, which is the fourth in its series is themed; “How Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence will Disrupt FinTech in Nigeria” and will be discussed by experts, key and leading players, policy influencers and regulatory officials in the Nigerian financial, banking and technological climate. To participate in the event, click the link https://www.firstbanknigeria.com/business-banking/smeconnect/fintech-summit/registration/ to register.
Chinedu Echeruo, founder of HopStop which was sold to Apple for $1bn will be leading the discussion as the Keynote speaker alongside other panelists; Musa Itopa Jimoh, Director, Payments System Management Department and Aminu Maida, Executive Director, Technology & Operations, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS).
Representing FirstBank in the panel of discussants are Callistus Obetta, Group Executive, Technology & Services and Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products
Speaking on the event, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said; “at FirstBank, we have been at the forefront of employing technology in the delivery of financial services in the country exemplified by our various products and services such as FirstMobile, USSD Banking services, FirstMonie Wallet, FirstMonie Agent Banking, FirstAdvance loans provisions
The 2020 edition of our FINTECH summit will build on the successes achieved in the last three editions. We welcome the panelists as we look forward to the shared knowledge which will be integral to deepening the continued growth of banking technology, especially its impact on the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria and the continent at large.
Technology continues to play a fundamental role in driving financial inclusion and strengthening the growth of SMEs that contribute significantly to the development of the country.
We encourage members of the public, players in the fintech and financial climate to register, as there is knowledge for everyone,” he concluded.
FBN Holdings posts 56.65% growth in profit in 6 months
By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
FBN Holdings Plc on Wednesday announced Profit After Tax (PAT) of N49.5 billion for the six months that ended June 30.
The PAT represented an increase 56.65 per cent when compared with N31.6 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2019.
Profit Before Tax (PBT) grew by 14.36 per cent to N41.4 billion from N36.2 billion posted in the comparative period of 2019.
FBN Holdings unaudited results released by the company by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) show that gross earnings stood at N296.4 billion from N280.3 billion in 2019, an increase of 5.74 per cent.
Also, its total assets stood at N7.1 trillion, an increase of 14.9 per cent against N6.2 trillion achieved in December 2019.
Its customer deposits rose to N4.4 trillion compared with N4. 0 trillion in December 2019.
Commenting on the results, Mr Urum Kalu Eke, FBN Holdings Group Managing Director, said they reconfirmed its consistent focus on enhanced shareholder value.
“The H1 (first half) 2020 financial results are impressive and reconfirm our consistent focus on enhanced shareholder value.
“Despite the difficult operating environment, the H1 results demonstrate our resilience and capacity to deliver on long-term ambitions.
“The growth in profit after tax for the period is a testament to the strength of our organisation to continually deliver exceptional services to our customers in these unprecedented times.
“We have been able to achieve this feat by leveraging our agent banking network, innovative e-banking capabilities, and operational efficiency, utilising technology,” said.
Eke said that FBN Holdings successfully divested from the underwriting (insurance) businesses to focus on banking operations.
“We are confident this will enhance greater value to our stakeholders and strengthen the group’s resolve to consolidate its leadership of the banking sector.
“Following the divestment, FBN Holdings injected Tier 1 capital into FirstBank, effectively increasing its capital adequacy ration to 16.5 per cent.
“This provides a comfortable buffer against regulatory requirements with the potential to support any emerging business opportunities.
“Looking ahead, we remain cautious, but we are confident that our business is fundamentally strong to withstand any future challenge toward enhanced performance,” he said.
Also commenting, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank Chief Executive Officer, said the commercial banking group, during the period, increased its gross earnings and PBT.
“Over the period, the commercial banking group increased its year-on-year growth in gross earnings and PBT by 6.1 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively, despite the economic shutdown and varying degrees of challenges in the operating environment.
“Notwithstanding, we have continued to provide services to our customers with minimal disruption in a safe environment, supported by seamless transactions through our increasing agent banking network and digital platforms (FirstMobile and USSD).
“Furthermore, continuous focus on operational efficiency remains a priority, as improvement in non-performing loan ratio has further been sustained.
“As the economy reopens gradually in Nigeria and other key markets, as in the rest of the world, we are adopting a pragmatic approach with optimism on propelling our performance for enhanced profitability through customer-led innovation and disciplined execution,” Adeduntan said.
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