The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefun has won the 2019 Top 25 CEOs Next Bulls award in recognition of the bank’s stellar performance on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).The 5th edition of the ‘Top 25 CEOs & Next Bulls Award,’ which took place in Lagos on Friday, May 10 2019, is one of the stock barometer awards structured by Businessday Media in association with the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
According to the organisers, Unity Bank ended the year as one of the companies with the best performing stocks, as its price opened at N0.53 and closed at N1.07, indicating a 101.89 per cent appreciation.
As reflected in its theme, a bull is the condition in financial market where the prices of a group of securities are rising or expected to rise. Thus, among the entities listed on the NSE, Unity Bank stocks stood out making one of the top 25 equities in the 2018 bull market with favourable conditions and stocks’ increases in value.
Commenting on the award, the Bank’s dynamic Managing Director who was ably represented by the Executive Director, Finance and Operations expressed appreciation to the organisers for their independent and objective analysis of stocks that saw the bank emerge tops in the awards.
The Bank in 2017 chose the tough but right path and resolved its legacy issues. “This bold action achieved notable points, including: reduction of NPL Ratio to zero per cent (0%); full de-risking of our balance sheet to remove toxic assets, total cleanup of our books and records as well as helping to fully mitigate the adverse impact of IFRS-9.
The Managing Director added that with a strong e-footprint in Agric Business, Retail and E-Business the lender is focused on Banking for the future.
For Unity Bank, the 2017 financial year will forever be known as one in which legacy clouds were laid to rest and the Bank arose to a new invigorated dawn. This according to dealers is attributable to the bank’s efficiency in curtailing cost, better market focus, revamp of electronic channels and increasing customer centricity which restored market confidence in the brand.
These strategic initiatives, amongst others, geared towards a complete transformation of Unity Bank and setting her up on the path of strong and sustainable growth and profitability, have endeared the lender to investors and contributed immensely to placing its CEO among top 25 that attracted the ‘next bulls” award.
Evidently, the courageous action taken by the Bank towards cleaning up observed issues, though resulted in temporary setbacks, but the Bank equally came out of the exercise a leaner, smarter and more dynamic Bank with a healthy Balance Sheet, Analysts have said.
Analysts see the NPLs resolution initiative and series of recoveries being made by the Management of the Bank as two-pronged approach to boost the Bank’s financial performance and create wealth for all existing and prospective shareholders.
These strategic initiatives according to industry experts rightly positioned Unity Bank, such that it successfully signed up 800,000 new customers and grew retail deposit base by 14 per cent in 2018 alone as a mark of growing customer conference.
The bank also worked on 4 important pillars: deliberate improvement in risk management systems; improvement in internal processes; investment in technology and automation that helped development of products that customers have embraced for swift and convenience transactions.
Specifically, in its audited financial statements for the year ended December 31st, 2018, the lender returned to Profitability posting PAT of N1.27bn compared with a loss of N14.9bn in 2017. The Bank’s Balance Sheet Size also grew from N156.51billion in 2017 to N235.98 billion, culminating in Gross earnings of N37.33 billion for the year.
The Bank has continued to build business momentum with customer acquisition and improvement in deposit, thereby maintaining an upward trajectory in its Q1’19 results, posting a profit of N505m.
It also achieved mileage on the back of cost containment policy. Unity Bank’s cost minimization focus yielded positive results as the lender recorded a 20 per cent reduction in Total Operating Expenses from N24.460 in 2017 to N20.217 billion recorded in the year under review. This reduction is primarily as a result of the drive of Management towards building processes that attract efficiency gains in resource allocation throughout the Bank.
It would be recalled that Unity Bank successfully partnered CBN and RIFAN (the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria) to deliver on the long-held objective of ensuring self-sustainability in rice production in the country. The program is one of the biggest and most successful anchor-borrower programs ever embarked upon, and it has so far succeeded in engaging over 500,000 farmers, cultivating over 270 thousand hectares of land with expected yield of 2 million metric tons of rice for the wet season alone.
The Bank is now well placed to leverage on current and emerging market trends, improve service delivery and boost e-business.
Apart from the current award, Unity Bank has carted away other highly coveted awards and recognitions in recent times due to increasing market receptiveness to its growth focus. It won an Efficiency Awards in Fraud Reporting and prevention, Award of Sustainable Banking Transaction in Agriculture, Presidential Award as mover of Anchor Borrowers Programme at the 3rd anniversary of ABP, amongst others.