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CBN Sacks Boards of First Bank, FBN Holdings, Appoints Replacements

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CBN Sacks Boards of First Bank FBN Holdings Appoints Replacements, SiliconNigeria

The Central Bank of Nigeria has sacked the board of directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and FBN Holdings Plc and has appointed a new set of directors for the two companies with immediate effect.

CBN had this afternoon queried the Board of the bank for removing Adesola Adeduntan as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, and appointing Gbenga Shobo as MD/CEO designate without regulatory approval.

The CBN had also faulted the appointment of Abdullahi Ibrahim as deputy managing director, as well as the appointment of Ini Ebong, Segun Alebiosu, Seyi Oyefeso and Bashirat Odunewu, as executive directors.

Addressing the media, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced the sacking of all members of the board of the bank for the supposed affront. Emefiele also reinstated Adeduntan as the MD/CEO of the bank.

  1. Emefiele announced the appointment of  Tunde Hassan-Odukale as Chairman of First Bank Limited while Remi Babalola will serve as Chairman of FBN Holdings.

The text of his media briefing are reproduced below:

“The media has been awash with commentaries on the purported management changes at First Bank of Nigeria Ltd (FBN) and the related regulatory inquiry by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the Board of First Bank of Nigeria Limited. It has therefore become necessary for me to address the public to clear any misconceptions.    

“Ordinarily the board is vested with the authority to make changes in the management team subject to CBN approval. However, the CBN considers itself a key stakeholder in management changes involving FBN due to the forbearances and close monitoring by the Bank over the last 5 years aimed at stemming the slide in the going concern status of the bank. It was therefore surprising for the CBN to learn through media reports that the board of directors of FBN, a systemically important bank under regulatory forbearance  regime had effected sweeping changes in executive management without engagement and/or prior notice to the regulatory authorities. The action by the board of FBN sends a negative signal to the market on the stability of leadership on the board and management and it is in light of the foregoing that the CBN queried the board of directors on the unfortunate developments at the bank.

“As you may be aware, FBN is one of the systemically important banks in the Nigerian banking sector given its historical significance, balance sheet size, large customer base and high level of interconnectedness with other financial service providers, amongst others.  By our last assessment, FBN has over 31m customers, with deposit base of N4.2trn, shareholders funds of N618bn  and NIBSS instant  payment (NIP) processing capacity of 22% of the industry.  To us at the CBN, not only is it imperative to protect the minority shareholders, that have no voice to air their views, also important, is the protection of the over 31m customers of the bank who see FBN as a safe haven for their hard-earned savings.

“The bank maintained healthy operations up until 2016 financial year when the CBN’s target examination revealed that the bank was in grave financial condition with its capital adequacy ratio (CAR) and non-performing loans ratio (NPL) substantially  breaching acceptable  prudential standards. 

“The problems at the bank were attributed to bad credit decisions, significant and non-performing insider loans and poor corporate governance practices. The shareholders of the bank and FBN Holding Plc also lacked the capacity to recapitalize the bank to minimum requirements. This conclusions arose from various entreaties by the CBN to them to recapitalize.

“The CBN stepped in to stabilize the bank in its quest to maintain financial stability, especially given FBN’s systemic importance as enumerated earlier. Regulatory action taken by the CBN in this regard included:

  1. Change of management team under the CBN’s supervision with the appointment of a new Managing Director/ Chief Executive Office in January 2016.
  1. Grant of the regulatory forbearances to enable the bank work out its non-performing loans through provision for write off of at least N150b from its earning for four consecutive years.
  1. Grant of concession to insider borrower to restructure their non-performing credit facilities under very stringent conditions
  1. Renewal of the forbearances on a yearly basis between 2016 and 2020 following thorough monitoring of progress towards exiting from the forbearance measures

“The measures had yielded the expected results as the financial condition of FBN improved progressively between 2016 when the forbearance was initially granted to the current financial year. For instance, profitability, liquidity and CAR improved whilst NPL reduced significantly.

“Notwithstanding the significant improvement in the bank’s financial condition with positive trajectory of financial soundness indicators, the insider related facilities remained problematic.

“The insiders who took loans in the bank, with controlling influence on the board of directors, failed to adhere to the terms for the restructuring of their credit facilities which contributed to the poor financial state of the bank. The CBN’s recent target examination as at December 31, 2020 revealed that insider loans were materially non-compliant with restructure terms (e.g. non perfection of lien on shares/collateral arrangements) for over 3 years despite several regulatory reminders.  The bank has not also divested its non-permissible holdings in non-financial entities in line with regulatory directives

 “Following further review of the situation and in order to preserve stability of the bank, so as to protect minority shareholders and depositors, the Management of the CBN in line with its powers under BOFIA 2020 has approved and hereby directs:

  • Immediate removal of the all directors of FBN Ltd and FBN Holdings Plc
  • The appointment of the following persons as directors in FBN Ltd and FBN Holdings Plc

Holdco

  1. Chairman – Remi Babalola
  2. Dr. Fatade Abiodun Oluwole
  3. Kofo Dosekun
  4. Remi Lasaki
  5. Dr Alimi Abdulrasaq
  6. Ahmed Modibbo
  7. Khalifa Imam
  8. Sir Peter Aliogo
  9. UK Eke – Managing Director

Bank

  •    Chairman – Tunde Hassan-Odukale
  •    Tokunbo Martins
  •     Uche Nwokedi
  •     Adekunle Sonola
  •     Isioma Ogodazi
  •     Ebenezer Olufowose
  •     Ishaya Elijah B. Dodo
  •     Sola Adeduntan – Managing Director
  •       Gbenga Shobo – Deputy Managing Director
  •     Remi Oni – Executive Director
  •     Abdullahi Ibrahim – Executive Director

“The CBN hereby reassures the depositors, creditors and other stakeholders of the bank of its commitment to ensure the stability of the financial system. There is therefore no cause for panic amongst the banking public, given that the actions being taken are meant to strengthen the bank and position it as a banking industry giant.,” Emefiele ended his speech.

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2Africa Consortium Plans Submarine Cable Landing Points in Southeast Nigeria, Three African Countries

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2Africa Consortium Mulls Submarine Cable Landing Points in Southeast Nigeria Three African Countries, SiliconNigeria

The 2Africa consortium which is building the largest subsea cable project in the world, is set to extend four new branches to South East of Nigeria, Seychelles, the Comoros Islands, and Angola.

The 2Africa consortium, comprised of China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC said the new branches join the recently announced extension to the Canary Islands.

2Africa subsea cable will deliver faster, more reliable internet service to each country where it lands. Communities that rely on the internet for services from education to healthcare, and business will experience the economic and social benefits that come from this increased connectivity.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been selected to deploy the new branches, which will increase the number of 2Africa landings to 35 in 26 countries, further improving connectivity into and around Africa.

As with other 2Africa cable landings, capacity will be available to service providers at carrier-neutral data centres or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis, encouraging and supporting the development of a healthy internet ecosystem.

Since launching the 2Africa cable in May 2020, the 2Africa consortium has made considerable progress in planning and preparing for the deployment of the cable, which is expected to ‘go live’ late 2023. Most of the subsea route survey activity is now complete. ASN has started manufacturing the cable and building repeater units in its factories in Calais and Greenwich to deploy the first segments in 2022.

One of 2Africa’s key segments, the Egypt terrestrial crossing that interconnects landing sites on the Red and the Mediterranean Seas via two completely diverse terrestrial routes, has been completed ahead of schedule. A third diverse marine path will complement this segment via the Red Sea.

Meanwhile, Broadband network and digital services offered in Seychelles will soon get a boost from a new cable system that will be leased by Seychelles-based telecommunications provider Intelvision Limited with support from IFC.

IFC’s support to Intelvision, which provides data, Internet, and Internet-based voice services as well as pay-TV, includes an up to $10 million loan from its own account and an additional loan of $10 million mobilized from partners under the Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP).

The funding will enable Intelvision to lease a new cable being built by Vodafone Carrier Services as a branch of the 2Africa cable network, one of the largest subsea projects in the world, spanning over 37,000 kilometers and connecting 26 countries around the world.

The new cable will complement the existing Seychelles East Africa System and is expected to lower the cost of connectivity for telecom operators on the islands and increase competition for fixed broadband and mobile data services.
“I think it will revolutionize the way we experience the internet here in Seychelles. We are pleased to work together with Vodafone and IFC amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Our aim is to enhance the telecommunication infrastructure of Seychelles and strengthen our digital offering to the people of Seychelles,” said Mukesh Valabhji, Chairman, Intelvision. “Our innovative products and services will continue to add value to the ever-growing demands for Internet connectivity. We have been at the forefront of offering affordable connectivity solutions to the Seychellois Nation and we intend to continue on the same path.”

The new cable system will deliver over 600Gbps of international bandwidth to Intelvision and will represent a significant step-up with respect to connectivity speeds for households and business customers. The cable will also increase the speed and capacity of Intelvision’s existing Fibre Optic & Hybrid Fibre Coaxial Networks.

“Better connectivity is tremendously important for powering economic and societal growth. Vodafone is committed to improving the availability, resilience and speed of Internet connections around the world, and this project to link the Seychelles with the ambitious 2Africa subsea cable will underpin future growth for the country and its citizens,” said Nick Gliddon, Director of Vodafone Carrier Services.   

Through the 15-year lease agreement with Vodafone, Intelvision plans to launch mobile telephony services in Seychelles, a country where most consumers access the Internet through a mobile phone. The new cable system will also allow Intelvision to eventually expand its terrestrial network by providing 4G and 5G mobile networks to the whole of Mahé and the inner islands.

“By working with Intelvision to expand Seychelles’ digital offering, we can help the country meet growing demand for Internet connectivity while helping to lower prices to build a strong foundation for the country’s digital economic development,” said Marcelle Ayo, IFC’s Country Manager for Seychelles.

Seychelles’ economy relies heavily on tourism, accounting for 30 percent of GDP, which has suffered due to COVID-19-related travel disruption. Seychelles’ government is focused on strengthening the digital economy to support recovery and the next phase of the country’s economic growth.

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Unveiling The Next Robotics Legend

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Unveiling The Next Robotics Legend, SiliconNigeria

After a successful first edition in 2020, Union Bank’s education – focused platform, Edu360 has announced the call for entries to The Next Robotics Legend 2.0!!

The Next Robotics Legend is an initiative designed by Edu360 in collaboration with Awarri, a pan-African technology company, to infuse Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the education of young Nigerian students.  

The first edition saw 25 students from across Nigeria receive free training in Robotics and AI, and the successful introduction of AI into the curriculum of some schools, including Greensprings schools, Lagos.

This edition, entries will be received from August 9th – 23rd  2021 on Union Banks website, after which 40 children will be selected to learn 3D printing in addition to AI and Robotics via a robust learning experience at on-site locations in Lagos, Ibadan and Yola and virtual trainings too. Each child will receive a tablet, a Mekamon and access to specialised online resource.

Unveiling The Next Robotics Legend, SiliconNigeria

The competition is open to students aged 11 to 16 and will focus on identifying and nurturing young potential inventors and creators and offering them the opportunity to proffer solutions to community challenges using skills learnt.

To enter your child or ward, record a 60-second video of him/her telling us why they should be accepted into the programme, upload on http://unionbankng.com/AWARRI-2  and fill the accompanying consent form. 40 of the most creative and passionate entries will be selected to participate in the two-week training programme.

At the end of the free training programme, the students will be required to identify a need in their community, and apply the skills learnt to proffer a solution. The student with the best solution will be admitted for a mentorship program with Awarri, the advanced AI and roboticscompany owned by Silas Adekunle – a top international robotics engineer renowned for creating the world’s first intelligent gaming robot.

Just like the first edition, schools are also not left out! To ensure the sustenance of the initiative, Edu360 will partner with four secondary schools by providing robotics toolkits and training for their teachers to enable them include robotics in their curriculum.

Click here to apply. Also follow Union Bank on Facebook, and Instagram for more information. 

#NextRoboticsLegend

Terms and conditions apply.

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Chaka Secures $1.5m Funding to Power Digital Investments for African Businesses

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Chaka Secures $1.5m Funding to Power Digital Investments for African Businesses, SiliconNigeria

SEC-Licensed Digital Sub-broker and leading digital investment platform, Chaka Technologies, has raised $1.5M in a pre-seed funding round led by Breyer Capital, premier global venture capital and private equity firm focused on catalysing growth in high-impact tech companies like Spotify and Facebook.

Other participants in the round are 4DX Ventures, Golden Palm Investments, Future Africa, Seedstars, and Musha Ventures.

This funding will serve as a catalyst to enable Chaka to continue to power on its mission to enable borderless investments across Africa and deliver digital investments solutions for African businesses. It will also be used towards the expansion of the Fintech’s footprints in West Africa to reach more retail investors and attract more foreign players to African Capital Markets.

Commenting on the funding secured, Tosin Osibodu, Co-founder & CEO, Chaka Technologies said “This is indeed a significant milestone for us at Chaka. We see digital investments as an opportunity to boost economic transformation in Africa, and our goal is to use this funding to bring this vision to life. With this capital, we will focus on our goals to build a roster of formidable partners and accelerate our expansion to other markets within Africa. This investment also enables us to hire top talent and integrate more advanced functionalities into our investment and wealth management solutions for businesses.”

“Our mission remains the same and we are excited to be backed by VCs like Breyer Capital that trust us and are extremely optimistic of the possibilities that exist for Chaka and Africa.” He added.

Also commenting on this feat, Jim Breyer, CEO of Breyer Capital, said “We are proud to combine efforts with a company that is levelling the investment playing field for Nigerians (and Africans at large). We’re confident in the value Chaka provides through its digital tools, and we look forward to playing our part in supporting Chaka’s team on their mission to drive borderless investments in Africa.” 

This pre-seed round comes on the heels of the Chaka becoming the first start-up to acquire the new digital sub-broker license issued by the Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in line with the regulator’s efforts to safeguard the investing public and accelerate innovation within the sector.

Since Chaka’s launch in 2019, the platform has levelled the barriers of entry for borderless investments in Nigeria by providing customers with compliant access to the capital market. Chaka’s bouquet of products includes a stock trading app for retail investors, Chaka SDK which enables asset managers and financial institutions to offer digital investments to their customers; and Chaka for Business which enables direct business onboarding and provides powerful trading tools for institutional investors.

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