UBA Expects Overseas Operations to Boost 2018 Earnings

By Dipo Olowookere

Last month, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc announced that its London subsidiary had been given the permission to operate wholesome banking activities in the United Kingdom.

This made the Africa’s global bank the only Sub-Saharan African lender to conduct banking operations in New York and London, as well as 20 other African countries.

For the Head of Investor Relations at UBA, Mr Abiola Rasaq, this development will boost earnings of the financial institution in 2018.

Speaking with newsmen at a briefing in Lagos last week, Mr Rasaq noted that with the expansion to the UK and the US, UBA would record more business from its operations in those jurisdictions.

“We took a decisive step to expand our business in London. We have a subsidiary in London, which is in addition to the New York office.

“To the best of our knowledge, we are the only Nigerian bank that has a deposit-taking licence in the United States. No other bank in Nigeria does that. And we say that proudly because today, we also service the correspondent banking needs of a number of Nigeria banks in the USA because of our deposit-taking licence.

“So, what we did was to take our business in the UK a little further by applying to the UK Prudential Regulation Authority, which is more or less like their central bank. We applied to the PRA and invariably to the Financial Conduct Authority of the UK.

“Just early this year, we were given the authorisation to deepen and expand our business in the UK.

“We are happy to say that 2018 going forward, you will see more business going through our UK business,” Mr Rasaq told journalists at the press conference.

Commenting the lender’s mobile banking app, Mr Rasaq said the platform has recorded a huge success, emerging highest at 4.2 among other Nigerian banks’ apps in the Google Store,

“There is lot of things we are doing around our digital banking, because we have seen that this is the way to go; that if the future of banking.

“To that extent, the best thing to do is to continue to go digital, so that we can serve our customer best,” he said.

Mr Rasaq said the bank will continue to grow the business and make it a world class financial institution and an envy of the continent.

Also speaking at the event, the Group Chief Finance Officer of UBA, Mr Ugo Nwaghodoh, attributed the bank’s improved performance in the 2017 financial year to prudent balance sheet management, among other things.

In its 2017 earnings, UBA recorded gross earnings of N462 billion, a 20 percent growth in overall revenue for the year.

This, according to Mr Nwaghodoh, was due to growth in loan book and treasury assets, as well as efficient balance sheet management.

“The yield environment was positive and relatively high during the first half of the year. Despite growing our revenue, we also had strong control on our cost of funding.

“The banking business is intermediation. How efficient you are in the intermediation process is very vital. This borders on how much you bought money and sold money.

“Cost of funding was kept under significant check despite the tight liquidity environment you saw in the second half of the year. We were able to keep our weighted average cost of fund at 3.7 percent.

“We kept it constant from 2016 in a market where fixed deposit interest rate went as high as 20 percent.

“That efficiency in interest income and cost of funding side led to a net interest income growth of about 25 percent,” he said.

In its financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2017, UBA declared a profit after tax of N78.6 billion compared with N72.3 billion in the corresponding period of 2016, while it achieved a profit before tax of N105.3 billion in 2017 against N90.6 billion in 2016.

In addition, the bank achieved an interest income of N325.7 billion against N264 billion in 2016, while the net interest income stood at N207.6 billion as at December 31, 2017 compared with N165.2 billion as at December 31, 2016.

For the net trading and foreign exchange income, it closed at N49.1 billion in the period under review against N43.8 billion in 2016.

In 2017, the group’s Nigeria operations contributed N314.5 billion to the total N461.6 billion generated as revenue compared with N268.8 billion in 2016, while the rest of Africa added N150.7 billion to the revenue versus N121.9 billion in 2016, and its operations outside Africa added N12.6 billion last year against N9.8 billion two years ago.

Furthermore, out of the N78.6 billion raked as profit in 2017, Nigeria contributed N41.1 billion compared with N47.2 billion in 2016, rest of Africa added N33.8 billion in 2017 against N24.3 billion in 2016, and outside Africa put N5.3 billion in 2017 in contrast to N3.4 billion in 2016.