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Court Sends FCMB Branch Manager To 121 Years Imprisonment For Embezzling Customers Fund

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FCMB is a leading financial institution in Nigeria has received a big shock of the year as one of its staff has been thrown to prison for fraud and embezzlement.

Mr Nwachukwu Placidus

Justice S. Odili at the Anambra State High Court in Onitsha, Anambra State, sentenced Mr Nwachukwu Placidus, a bank manager at First City Monument Bank FCMB, Onitsha Anambra State to 121 years in prison for embezzling N112 million from a customer’s fixed deposit account.Mr Nwachukwu PlacidusThe Honorable justices delivered the verdict resulting in the conviction and sentencing of a former manager at the First City Monument Bank’s branch in Onitsha, who has now been sentenced to a total of 121 years in prison for misappropriating fixed deposit funds totaling N112,100,000 from a customer for personal use. This is tantamount to a breach of trust by the former manager which has attracted a huge jail term.

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Banking and Finance

Union Bank Achieves Another Milestone; Attains MSECB ISO 27001:2022, 20000-1:2018 and 22301 Certifications

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Lagos, Nigeria — Union Bank, one of Nigeria’s foremost and most trusted financial institutions, has announced another significant achievement with its attainment of the MSECB management system certifications in ISO/IEC 27001:2022, ISO 22301:2019, and ISO/IEC 20000-1:2018.

The Bank was awarded these three noteworthy certifications by MSECB, a leading international provider of audit and certification services, after being rigorously assessed and found to be in accordance with the management system requirements covering Information Security, IT Service Delivery, and Business Continuity standards under the combined Information Management Systems (IMS) standards.

The information security management systems ISO/IEC 27001:2022, ISO 22301:2019, and ISO/IEC 20000-1:2018 are internationally recognised standards that outline the requirements for establishing an effective information management system that guides against data breaches, IT system compromises, and disruption to business processes.

These latest certifications will enable the bank to continue to offer its customers improved data security, innovative banking solutions, and seamless service delivery through its state-of-the-art banking network.

Commenting on the Bank’s recent attainment, Chief Information Security Officer at Union Bank, Francis Mojoyinlola, said: “The Bank’s continued adherence to best international practices, as acknowledged by an independent third-party audit from a reputable international certification firm, reaffirms our capacity to erect, implement, and maintain best information and security management practices.

We remain committed to offering our esteemed customers simpler, more innovative services rooted in the highest standards of information security and cutting-edge innovative banking service.”

MSECB Management System Incorporated, or simply MSECB, is a reputable international organisation specialising in the certification of management systems based on a wide range of global standards.

They offer audit and certification services and expertise in multiple fields, including, but not limited to, Information Security, Quality Management, Business Continuity, and Service Management. They help guide, evaluate, and issue various organisations’ certifications against internationally recognised standards.

Their mission is to provide their clients with comprehensive services that inspire trust and demonstrate recognition.

This recent achievement by Union Bank follows the bank’s recertification of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) version 3.2 and the International Organisation for Standardisation ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification attained in 2018.

This further highlights Union Bank’s commitment to the strictest information management security standards while securing its pride of place as one of Nigeria’s most trusted financial institutions.

Established in 1917 and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. is a household name and one of Nigeria’s long-standing and most respected financial institutions.

The Bank is a trusted and recognisable brand, with an extensive network of over 300 branches across Nigeria.

The Bank currently offers a variety of banking services to both individual and corporate clients including current, savings and deposit account services, funds transfer, foreign currency domiciliation, loans, overdrafts, equipment leasing and trade finance.

The Bank also offers its customers convenient electronic banking channels and products, including Online Banking, Mobile Banking, Debit Cards, ATMs and POS Systems.

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Banking and Finance

Fidelity Bank records a 120.1% growth in PBT to N39.5bn in Q1 2024

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Lagos, Nigeria, May 2, 2024: In line with its upward growth trajectory, leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank Plc, has posted an impressive 120.1% growth in Profit Before Tax from N17.9bn at the end of Q1 2023 to N39.5bn for Q1 2024. This was made known in the Bank’s unaudited financial statements released on the issuer portal of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) on Tuesday, 30 April 2024.

According to the statement, Gross Earnings increased by 89.9% yoy to N192.1bn from N101.1bn in Q1 2023. The increase was led by a combination of interest income (90.7% yoy) and non-interest income (84.0% yoy). Growth in interest income was primarily spurred by a higher yield environment and strong earning assets base, while the increase in non-interest income was led by double-digit growth in account maintenance charges, FX-related income, trade, banking services, and remittances, supported by increased customer transactions.

Commenting on the results, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc stated, “We are pleased to report another quarter of strong financial performance driven by our strategic focus on customer-centricity, digital innovation and operational excellence. Despite the challenging macroeconomic environment, we remained resilient and agile, delivering double-digit growth on key income lines while advancing our business sustainability agenda.”

In the period under review, the bank grew Net interest income grew by 89.5% yoy to N99.6bn from N52.6bn in Q1 2023, driven by interest and similar income as the yield on financial instruments improved to 14.7% from 10.1% in Q1 2023 (2023FY: 11.6%). In line with the steady rise in interest rates through the year, average funding cost increased by 80bps ytd to 5.2%. However, NIM came in at 8.8%

compared to 8.1% in 2023FY, as increased yield on earning assets surpassed funding cost to 15.1% from 13.3% in Q1 2023 (2023FY: 13.5%).

Similarly, Total Deposits increased by 17.2% ytd to N4.7tn from N4.0tn in 2023FY, driven by double-digit growth across all deposit types (demand, savings and term). Net Loans and Advances increased by 21.2% to N3.7tn from N3.1tn in 2023FY.

“Beginning the year on this inspiring note reaffirms our strategy of helping individuals to grow, inspiring businesses to thrive and empowering economies to prosper. We are committed to our guidance as we build a more resilient business franchise with a well-diversified earnings base in 2024,” explained Onyeali-Ikpe.

Ranked as one of the best banks in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged customer commercial bank with over 8.5 million customers serviced across its 251 business offices in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as well as on digital banking channels.

The bank has won multiple local and international awards including the Export Finance Bank of the Year at the 2023 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards, the Best Payment Solution Provider Nigeria 2023 and Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking and Finance Awards; Best Bank for SMEs in Nigeria by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023; and Best Domestic Private Bank in Nigeria by the Euromoney Global Private Banking Awards 2023.

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Banking and Finance

Fidelity Bank: Improved Share Price as Growth Indicator

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When the management of the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) in July 2023 announced that it was reclassifying Fidelity Bank Plc from small-price stock to medium-price stock, financial analysts concluded that the road to attaining Tier1 status by the bank is closer than ever imagined.

In full year 2022. Fidelity Bank briefly fell into the Tier 1 category and saw the highest gross earnings of N337.10 billion and profit before tax of N53.68 billion. The bank’s higher interest income relative to interest expense led to a net interest margin of 7.70 per cent, ahead of other similar banks.

Regarding its financial position, the bank had the highest total assets at N3.99 trillion in 2022. The bank’s relatively low-risk asset exposure kept non-performing loans (NPLs) at 2.90 per cent, the second lowest in the Tier 2 category ahead of Wema Bank.

Although the group has struggled with curtailing operating costs with CIR above 50 per cent, Fidelity earned the second lowest CIR among Tier 2 banks at 59.00 per cent, slightly behind FCMB at 53.90 per cent in FY 2022.

In 9M 2023, Fidelity Bank, according to Proshare analysts will rise to full Tier 1 status in its next Tier 1 Banking Sector Report review based on Proshare’s Banking Strength Index (PBSI)) led second-tier banks in gross earnings, profitability, total assets, customer deposits, and loans and advances.
However, its non-performing loan ratio (NPLR) rose to 3.54 per cent after Wema Bank’s 2.50 per cent, while its cost-to-income ratio (CIR) settled at 49.86 per cent, which was an improvement from the previous year’s ratio.

Significantly, in its full-year 2023 results, the bank’s total assets as of December 31, 2023 has risen to N6.2 trillion.

The bank closed 2023 as the fifth best banking stock on the floor of the NGX with a share price of N10.85 and a market capitalization of N347.3 billion, depicting an annual gain of 149.4 per cent, Fidelity Bank also showcased a commendable financial performance.
Notably, it achieved a net income of N91.8 billion in the nine months ending September 2023, reflecting a substantial 162.46% year-on-year growth from the corresponding period in 2022.

Furthermore, the bank registered an impressive return on equity of 28.48 per cent during the first nine months of 2023.

The 2023 performance of the bank was similar to that of 2022 as it was one of the three banks that led the list of the best-performing banks on the NGX. The other banks are FCMB and FBN Holdings.

The research pours into the performance of thirteen of Nigeria’s largest commercial banks analyzing improvement year on year over two quarters.

The analysis revealed that the thirteen banks raked in a sum of N298.84 billion as post-tax profit between July and September 2022, representing an increase of 29.9 per cent compared to N228.54 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2021.

The commercial banks remained resilient despite economic headwinds, which saw the nation’s aggregate GDP growth slowed to 2.25 per cent in Q3 2022 from 3.54 per cent recorded in the previous quarter and 4.03 per cent in the corresponding period of 2021.

Also, banks’ loans to customers grew by 5.5 per cent between June and September 2022 to stand at N23.76 trillion, representing a net new loan of N1.23 trillion in three months. However, this showed a slightly slower growth than the 6.81 per cent increase recorded in the comparable period of 2021.

NGX reclassification

The NGX said the reclassification became necessary because Fidelity Bank shares have been trading above the N5.00 mark since February 2023.
According to the NGX, rule 15.29 of the Rulebook of the Exchange, 2015 (Dealing Members’ Rules) notes that equities priced above N5 per share for at least four of the most recent six months of trading, or new security listings priced above N5 per share at the time of listing on NGX are classified as medium price stock.

“Fidelity Bank traded above the N5.00 mark on February 20, 2023 and has remained above the N5 mark up until close of business on 30 June 2023.
“This indicates that Fidelity Bank has been trading above N5 for at least four months in the last six months. Therefore, it should be reclassified from small price stock to medium price stock,” it pointed out.

The bank has continued to post commendable financial performance every quarter as it cements its position amongst tier-one banks in the country.
In the half-year 2023 results and for the second year running, the bank emerged as the company with the highest earnings per share on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

According to a report, Fidelity Bank, Seplat Energy, Total Energies, Okomu Oil, Presco, Dangote Cement, MTN Nigeria, BUA Foods, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and Geregu Power emerged as the companies with the highest earnings per share within that review period.
Earnings per share (EPS) is a company’s net profit divided by the number of common shares it has outstanding.
It also indicates how much money a company makes for each share of its stock and is a widely used metric for estimating corporate value.

A higher EPS indicates greater value because investors will pay more for a company’s shares if they think the company has higher profits relative to its share price.

Fidelity Bank recorded an earnings per share of N184 in the first half of 2023 from N79 in the first half of 2022.
The share price of the bank as of Thursday, April 25, 2024, stood at N9.00 per share as the bank traded 12.642 million shares valued at N112.071 billion in 246 deals.

Fidelity Bank’s share price movement has shown intense volatility in an upward direction over the past years. The stock price has risen from N2.52 on January 04, 2010, to N10.00 on March 15, 2023, generating a YTD return of 297 per cent.
The bank’s market capitalization as of Thursday, April 25, 2024, stood at N288.11 billion. Average volume stood at 11.76 million, share outstanding was 32.01 billion while free float was 31.72 billion

Stakeholders speak
Analysts believe the bank’s share price underlines its earnings growth and financial performance as higher dividend yields and future earnings forecasts have triggered demand in the money lender’s shares.

Over the last ten years, the bank’s share price has risen to a resistance (highest price) of N14.20 on March 05, 2024, and a support price (lowest price) of N0.76 on November 16, 2016.

According to a Lagos-based stockbroker, ‘Fidelity Bank demonstrates the classical admonition to prospective investors of entering low and selling high. Over the last eight years, Fidelity’s stock price has risen by 44.19 per cent on a compound annual basis; very few stocks could prove a better inflation hedge”.

Ambrose Omordion, Chief Research Officer at Investdata Consulting Limited, believes that this is the best time for Fidelity as the bank’s share price is doing well among its peers.

He said, “Fidelity is doing well and its share price is one of the best among its peers. This is so because the bank has recorded impressive results in its 2023 financial year. In June 2023, the bank shares rose by 32 per cent making it the nation’s best-performing bank share as of half year (June 30).

“I can only see a better bank now and in the future. The bank is a potential Tier 1 bank and the performance of the bank is a pointer to the fact that the bank will scale the recapitalisation hurdle of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)”.

Prince Anthony Omojola, National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), asserted that “Fidelity Bank is moving up in terms of performance. They have joined those paying interim dividends and they have also dipped their hand into big money tills for huge investment. They have borrowed big to be able to handle bigger contracts and be able to reap big. The reclassification is welcomed and I hope they will not disappoint us. If they can meet expectations, the benefit will be for Nigeria”.

On his part, Sam Ndata, Doyen of Nigerian Stockbrokers and non-executive director at UIDC Securities Limited commented, “This is a good development. If a company performs well, it will surely be rewarded to earn investors’ confidence”.

Mr Boniface Okezie, the National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, commented, “Fidelity Bank has paid its dues in the financial services sector. It has contributed immensely to the development of the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector yet pays dividends to the shareholders. Last year, it took the market by surprise by declaring a dividend of 50k per share which had not happened in previous years. The massive investment in ICT and effective branch network shows it is ready to serve the customers in a better way and make the shareholders happy.”

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