By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
Mr Urum Kalu Eke, Group Managing Director, FBN Holdings Plc, on Friday said that the group would seek listing in foreign markets where it operates at the appropriate time.
Eke said at a news conference to mark 125th anniversary of First Bank Nigeria Limited in Lagos that the company would liaise with investors and regulators at the right time when opportunities arise.
He said that FBN Holdings would seek foreign listing when the time was right and regulation was also conducive, but would maintain headquarters in Nigeria in line with the vision of the founding fathers.
“These are bold statements aligning with the vision of the founding fathers, in the course of time, we will evaluate opportunities even as we work with the regulators, as we work with investors, with a view that we will continue to maintain headquarters in Nigeria.
“We will spread our network when the time is right and regulation is also conducive, we will be able to make a statement about listing in those foreign markets,” Eke said.
He explained that listing was not something you do without a deliberate plan.
“At the time, the founding fathers set up First Bank in 1894, they have a view of a pan African institution with headquarters in Nigeria with presence across the globe.
“That is why few years after 1894, by 1896 we were in Accra and two years after we were in Sierra Leone, today we have expanded the scope of our coverage, we are in six African countries. We are in Asia and we are in Europe,” he stated.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that FBN Holdings, currently listed only on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, is the non-operating financial holding company of one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in Africa.
He, however, said that the company was very proud of the achievements of its flagship subsidiary, First Bank of Nigeria Limited.
“We are proud at FBN Holdings of the achievements of our flagship First Bank of Nigeria Limited over the last 125 years, and that makes us at the holding company level the premier and of course the largest financial services group in Nigeria today,” Eke said.
He said that the group played active role in merchant banking and asset management sector as well as in insurance space.
“Just as we celebrating the commercial bank we can list a whole lot of achievements that have been recorded by the merchant bank through FBN Quest group and also the insurance.
“Today, the insurance company is the fastest growing insurance company in Nigeria and we are proud of what they are doing,” he added.
Eke noted that insurance had very low penetration in Nigeria with less than one per cent against 15 per cent penetration in South Africa.
“Talking about the life insurance business, it’s not just about taking insurance to the cities, we are also present across the country, wherever you find First Bank, we have a life insurance staff embedded in those branches
“We are saying we can play a very dominant role in championing insurance deepening in Nigeria, the same thing you can say about our FBN Quest group,” Eke said.
He said that the company had supported the Federal Government and sub-Nationals to raise bonds and capital for infrastructure development.
The group managing director said that through the pedigree of its franchise, it enabled government to raise N200 billion Sukuk bond in two tranches.
“At the holding company level, I need to say that there is so much confidence by the investing public in the brand so we can say today we are the largest in shareholder base,” he said.
He said that FBN Group had about 1.3 million shareholders, comprised of 17 per cent international institutional shareholders and about 36 per cent retail.
Also speaking, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman First Bank of Nigeria, said that the bank wold remain committed to the development of entrepreneurs to scale up employment rate.
Awosika said that the bank had invested heavily in organising programmes that would enhance knowledge of Small and Medium Enterprises.
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