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How Access Bank got Japaul to pay up N37 billion loan that had gone bad

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Brute force, Courts, quid quo pro are hallmarks of Access Bank’s debt recovery schemes.

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In 2018 when Access Bank took over Diamond Bank, in what is the largest merger in Nigeria’s banking history, they knew it was not a match made in heaven like their PR agencies will make you believe.

In merging with Diamond Bank and taking over their juicy assets, they had also taken over the lemons that had for years bedeviled the bank who had pioneered mobile banking applications well ahead of its time.

When Access Bank merged with Diamond Bank, the latter had total loans and advances of N787.8 billion out of which N219.9 billion in loans were impaired. Oil and gas-related loans made up a significant chunk of the loans and were estimated at about N302.6 billion, most of them distressed.

Included in the oil and gas loans was a $66.4 million in loans owed to the bank by Japaul Oil and Maritime, as they were referred to at the time. The loans had gone bad accumulating unpaid interest of about $11.2 million. By the time Access Bank took over the loans, Japaul agreed to a restructuring rolling over both the principal and interest.

This is typical of most Nigerian companies burdened with debts they cannot pay. To avoid being run over by the bank, the debtors will negotiate a restructuring, extending the loans by one to three years and if lucky, reducing the interest rates. In return, the bank books new fees (which are often paid in advance of the restructuring) and then gets to avoid huge provisioning mandated by the central bank.

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It is often a ‘win-win’ situation that essentially kicks the can down the road until, like in the case of Diamond Bank, the chicken comes home to roost. But Access Bank is not new to slugging it out with debtors, particularly those who do not pay up. Upon takeover in 2019, Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Bank announced that his bank was going to go after Diamond Bank debtors. In an interview in 2019 he maintained that “we recovered N2.2 billion bad debt in the year under review. Access Bank will intensify effort to ensure that it recovers the debt owed to Diamond Bank. We will go out for Diamond Bank’ debtors and if they are not ready to redeem their debt we will publish their names in the newspapers.”

In 2019, Access Bank swooped on Japaul Plc seeking repayment of their Diamond Bank loans which was now about N37 billion. The bank took over Japaul’s trading assets and integral to the going concern status of the company. Before now, Japaul made money rendering marine services, dredging, mining and construction mostly for the oil and gas companies.

But business has been bad for years now leading the company into net accumulated losses of over N50 billion as of 2018. For the 5 years leading to 2018, the company posted back to back losses with revenues going from N5.3 billion in 2015 to about N85.8 million in 2019. External loans had also ballooned from about N18.8 billion to about N38.8 billion. Its share price had also fallen to about 20 kobo per share by the end of 2019. It was nearing bankruptcy and something had to give.

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They began a court battle with Access Bank over the loans and the threat of a liquidation eventually settling for a deal. Sources inform Nairametrics that Access Bank is one of the most aggressive banks in the business when it comes to playing dirty with debtors. Unlike Diamond Bank, Access Bank is ready to battle in the courts and is ready to deploy any legal means necessary to recover their loans even if their actions are viewed as uncanny.

 

Recently, the bank obtained a Mareva injunction sealing the offices and taking over the assets of Seplat due to a related party loan owed by the latter’s Chairman, ABC Orjiakor. Just like Japaul, the loans owed by ABC Orjiakor were also obtained from Diamond Bank. According to sources, when Access Bank swoops in for their loan recoveries, they deploy all tactics in the books to ensure all or most parts of the loans are recovered from chronic debtors.

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Eventually, Access Bank and Japaul agreed to settle the matter outside the court. In exchange for repaying the N38 billion loan, Access Bank settled for a repayment of N30.9 billion. The deal involves Access Bank taking over two of Japaul’ s Dredgers (12& 13) for N5 billion and a Barge (Beau Geste) for N25.9 billion. Japaul also gave up its land in exchange for working capital of N1.5 billion from the bank.

 

In return, Japaul gets to clean up its balance sheet erasing what is left of its debt, booking a profit of about N40 billion and wiping off its negative equity of N35.5 billion. However, in one fell swoop. From negative equity of N35.5 billion, the company’s net assets are now N4.69 billion. A win-win for everyone.

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We are not exactly sure what Access Bank plans to do with dredgers and barges it took over from Japaul. Interestingly, in the deal, Japaul also gets to lease back the two dredgers for a period of 6 years from Access Bank for a sum of N1 billion paid annually from 2021 – 2026. Japaul got a one-year moratorium on repayment expiring in December 2020.

 

Japaul has since changed its name to Japaul Gold and Ventures citing the dwindling oil and gas sector for its reasons. The company believes gold mining and technology are the future and is seeking to raise N25 billion in equity to pursue this course. Its share price has ostensibly risen by 150% since the turn of the new year, the best performing on the stock exchange.

For Access Bank, aggressively going after bad loans have paid off immensely. In 2019 the bank recovered N38.9 billion in bad loans barely a year after taking over Diamond Bank. In the first 9 months of 2019, a total of N24.7 billion was captured in bad debts recovered. It is a strategy that is working and there is no betting against Access Bank doubling down on aggressive recovery this year.

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Fidelity Bank Set To Organise Diaspora Webinar Banking

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  • Deepens Engagement On New Remittances Policy

…. Osinbajo, Emefiele, Prof Benedict Oramah,Dabiri-Erewa To Attend

Fidelity Bank Plc, top Nigerian bank has concluded plans to host its Diaspora Webinar Series with the inaugural edition slated for Saturday, March 06, 2021 by 2pm. This virtual session seeks to enlighten Nigerian citizens’ resident abroad on recent policy measures by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its attendant implications for Diaspora investments.

Rightly themed, “The New CBN FX Policy and Positive Impact To Diaspora Investments in Nigeria”, the session will also aim specifically at providing them with valuable insights, intelligence, and expertise on how to stay on top of their investments back home.

The event will have in attendance special guests and notable personalities including the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo who is the Special Guest of Honour and the Chief Host, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele who will deliver a keynote address at the event.

Other speakers and panelists at the session include Professor, Benedict Okey Oramah, Chairman/President of African Export-Import Bank, Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM),  Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Lead Faculty, Tekedia Institute and Professor Olawale Sulaiman, renowned Neurosurgeon and Chairman of RNZ Global among others.

Streamed live on YouTube and ZOOM, the Series was borne out of the need to deepen engagement with Nigerian Diaspora Community particularly as developmental partners considering the critical role remittances play in driving sustainable economic growth.

Speaking on the webinar, Fidelity CEO, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe stated that the session was most appropriate and timely, adding that “the session will offer the Nigerian Diaspora greater clarity on all of the recent policies enacted by government with a view to enabling them make sound investment decisions”.

According to Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe, the bank, in the last twelve (12) years, has become a dependable partner for diaspora remittances and investment. Armed with a deep understanding of these customers needs, she  went on to explain that the bank has continued to offer bespoke products and services that are unrivaled in the financial services industry.

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Worthy of mention is the Diaspora Mortgage and Dollar Denominated Fixed Deposit Investment Account that attracts up to 5 percent annual interest depending on the amount and tenure.

The CBN, as part of efforts to liberalise, simplify and improve the receipt and administration of Diaspora remittances into the country had issued guidelines to ensure that beneficiaries of Diaspora remittances through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) receive such inflows in foreign currency (US dollars) through the designated bank of their choice.

The policy became necessary in view of the urgent need to deepen the Foreign Exchange (FX) market, provide more liquidity and create transparency in the administration of Diaspora remittances into Nigeria.

To register for the webinar, click on the link – https://www.fidelitybank.ng/diaspora-webinar/

The programme will be streamed LIVE on YouTube and ZOOM. For more information, send emails to DiasporaGroup@fidelitybank.ng

 

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Heritage Bank’s 8 Years Journey Of Entrenching Business Of Banking In Nigeria

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Today marks a worthy milestone in the life of one of the fastest growing financial service provider, Heritage Bank Plc as it celebrates eight (8) years of entrenching seamless service delivery in the business of banking in Nigeria.
This is a journey that began eight (8) years ago, premised on passion, commitment, doggedness, culture and hard work amongst others, stands today as a reputable financial organisation in the Nigeria banking space.
The story began in 2012; a story of hard work and determination when Heritage Bank Plc emerged from a business combination of Heritage Banking Company Limited (HBCL) and Enterprise Bank Limited (EBL) after the acquisition of Societe Generale of Nigeria’s (SGBN) license by IEI Investment Ltd from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) having met all requirements by Nigeria’s apex bank.
Heritage Bank returned 100% of existing SGBN account holders’ funds which were frozen at the closure of the SGBN. This move brought a lot of smiles to the faces of former account holders and inspired many of them to open new accounts with Heritage Bank. In October 2014, Heritage Banking Company Ltd successfully met the requirements of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the CBN toward owning 100% shares in Enterprise Bank Ltd., after a highly competitive bid process. This development firmly anchors the Heritage Bank in a rich legacy of technology and innovation in the banking industry. SGBN, which was incorporated in December 1976 and commenced full banking operations in August 1977, pioneered the introduction of e-banking services including its flagship, the 24/7 Cashpoint through the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in 1990.
With a management focused on innovation through technology and a unique philosophy to create, preserve and transfer wealth to its customers, Heritage Bank found itself in a fiercely competitive banking environment but it remained guided by passion, resilience, innovation and a brand architecture that exuded quality service, performance and sheer excellence.
Still, as big a move as it was, it remained just one of the many strategic moves to change the banking industry and Heritage Bank has made a lot of them and attains giant strides in reshaping the economy since it began operations in 2013 to drive improved investment outcome and job creation.
Success stories of entrenching business of banking in Nigeria:
As a catalytic financial institution, Heritage Bank, through its strategic partnerships with government and private organisations, has continued to make efforts to transforming the nation’s economy through championing entrepreneurial schemes for businesses and the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector was not left out, which have always focused on dependable job-creating sectors, such as education, agricultural value chain (fish farming, poultry, snail farming), cottage industry, mining and solid minerals, creative industry (tourism, arts and crafts), and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
In recent times, the bank’s response to dealing with the global economic challenge occasioned by COVID-19, which highly impacted SMEs, Heritage Bank PLC has continued to deepen its support to young entrepreneurs in Nigeria to grow their businesses either as start-ups or prospective business owners.
One of such is the last Season of the reality TV show The Next Titan, themed “The Unstoppable” that was designed to search for business ideas that are immune to any pandemic, innovations that break boundaries and technologies that can survive any lockdown. This programme produced a young vibrant entrepreneur, graduate of the Federal University of Technology Owerri with a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Science who is the Chief Executive Officer of Josult Oil Processing Company, a palm oil processing company in Akwa Ibom State, Joshua Joseph Idiong, as he finally emerged the winner of the Next Titan Season-7, going home with a whooping sum of N10million. Furthermore, Heritage Bank PLC in partnership with Honourable Fatima Mohammed (FAMO) Foundation also provided succor to over 300 affected private school teachers and small medium enterprises (SMEs).
Heritage Bank has continued to blaze the trial on the SME’s space to empower young entrepreneurs in such schemes as the HB Innovation Lab Accelerator programme (HB-LAB), Ynspyre Account, Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP), Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) on Young Entrepreneurship Business Training Programme (YEBTP), Young Entrepreneurs and Students (YES) Grant and Nigerian Youth Professional Forum (NYPF), Big Brother Nigeria, Lagos Comic Con, among others.
Last year witnessed the Launch of the Nationwide Dukia-Heritage Bank Gold & Precious Metals which stands to create new opportunities for Nigeria to grow its potential reserves of 200 million ounces of gold.
The Nationwide Dukia-Heritage Bank Gold & Precious Metals Buying Centre will fast-track 10per cent contribution of mining sector to GDP by 2026. Referring to this giant strides, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo remarked that the launch of this project between Heritage Bank and ‘Dukia Gold SPV’ would enable Nigeria to mine reserves properly, trade responsibly, refine locally and boost the nation’s foreign reserves.
Heritage Bank has continued to support Nigeria’s aspiration and roadmap to become a leading Information Communication Technology (ICT) Hub in Africa, The Bank doled out the sum of $40, 000 grants to winners of the maiden edition of HB Innovative Lab.
The bank’s commitment is to create enabling environment, resources and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions with the potential to radically improve financial inclusion/intermediation, health, automobile, agriculture, and other related problems affecting critical sectors of the economy.
For the bank’s giant stride of support to tourism, Federal Government commended Heritage Bank for its commitment to the development and growth of the creative industry.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the commendation at a two-day Creative Nigeria Summit.
The bank, aimed at boosting Nigeria’s tourism via creative arts industry supported the sponsorship of exhibition at the National Museum Benin, at the Exhibition Gallery of National Museum Benin by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), in collaboration with the Edo State Government, and the Smithsonian Institute, United States of America.
Also, efforts are being taken by Heritage Bank Plc and the River State government during the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) to make art and culture a unifying factor and major earner to the contribution of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
Heritage Bank Plc partnered with the organizers of the International Festival of Contemporary Dance (IFCOD) to host the second edition of One Language, a musical production of intrigue, dance and drama.
Most prominent of its partnership and supports is the annual Calabar Carnival and festival, tagged “Africa’s Biggest Street Party,” was created as part of the vision of making Cross River State the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and other tourists across the world.
Heritage Bank is not done yet. The bank went further to prove its trend setting profile by driving seat of the agricultural financing revolution.
In a bid to support the real sector and unlock food potentials, Heritage Bank Plc provided over N5billion long term facility under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) to Triton Aqua Africa Ltd (TAAL).
TAAL known as Triton Farm accessed the CACS through Heritage Bank, which was used to set up aquaculture businesses; nursery/hatchery to produce fingerlings and brood stock in Ikeja and earthen ponds for catfish and Tilapia in Asejire, Iwo and Gambari towns in Oyo State.
Under the arrangement, TAAL will also help small-scale farms increase their fish production by making fingerlings available to them.
In the short term, the loan is expected to help Triton double its current production capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes with a projection to scale it up to 100,000 metric tonnes in five years.
The bank also has thrown its weight behind Globus Resources Limited, a subsidiary of Triton Group, to flag off the second phase of afforestation programme in Oyo state.
Nigeria’s demand capacity for fish was estimated at 2.7million metric tons and the country currently produces 800,000 metric tons.
Triton is now producing over 25,000 metric tons and with them on board, over 25,000 metric tons capacity will be added to our current production, the company’s projection is to exceed 100,000 metric tons in 5years.
In the state level, Heritage Bank entered into partnership with the Oyo State government in a multi-billion-naira project to give agriculture a boost.
Under the initiative, the bank supported the Oyo State Agricultural Initiative, OYSAI, a programme designed to revive agriculture, boost agro-allied businesses and massive empowerment programme for both youth and women across the state through the creation of thousands of jobs in the sector.
This huge, albeit laudable, project that is spread across 3,000 hectares of land in 28 of the 33 Local Government Areas of Oyo State is in three stages: food crop cultivation, cash crop/horticulture, and food processing.
Heritage Bank is supporting agro investors involved in this initiative with funds and advisory services and indications are that the programme has already led to more than 30 per cent increase in food production in the state.
The Bank also supported thousands of small holder farms in Kaduna and Zamfara states to benefit from the bank’s financial support for rice and soya beans production under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
Further on job creation, Heritage Bank through its establishment of a full-fledged learning and development institute accredited by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), dubbed “The Refinery” successfully trained and employed about 300 new intakes.
In the midst of the bank’s audacity to dare and succeed, industry watchers have continued to ask; how are they doing it? The answers may not be far from the fact that this is one bank whose leadership team continues to exude the charisma of the Midas touch. With Heritage Bank, the MD/CEO, Ifie Sekibo has proven over and over again that whatever he touches, turns into gold.

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Wema Bank Investigating Allegation of Verbal Abuse Against A staff Of The Bank

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Wema Bank Plc – the inventor of Nigeria’s first fully digital bank, ALAT – has wadded into allegation of verbal abuse levelled against a staff of Wema Bank on social media.
A statement signed by Head, Brand & Marketing Communication for WEMA Bank, Funmilayo Falola, Wema Bank assures all that the issue is already being investigated.
The statement reads; Our attention has been drawn to an allegation of verbal abuse levelled against a staff of Wema Bank on social media, allegedly following some information from staff.
At Wema Bank, our staff are our most valued assets and we treasure them greatly.
Equity, fairness, and mutual respect are the gold standards of our practice, operations, and relations with both internal and external stakeholders at Wema Bank. These are firmly rooted in our values spanning over 75 years of existence.
We respect and uphold the rights and dignity of all members of staff, irrespective of their age, gender, or position in our organisation. Their contributions to the growth of the business and the success of our customers across all our business touchpoints are of immense value.
Wema Bank therefore assures all their stakeholders that the issue which was already being investigated at the highest level of the organisation will receive appropriate redress that will be comforting to the affected parties. “We nevertheless thank our stakeholders for their patience as we conclude our investigations.”
The statement reads.

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