The news of the London road show by the United Bank for Africa PLC (UBA PLC) had been making the rounds among the Nigerian community in London for weeks long before the train came into town. It was Christian Udechukwu’s Business inAfricaevents.com, the event organisers that started the viral campaign through targeted emails; text messages, internet promotions as well as word of mouth.
And so it wasn’t surprising that the function hall of the London Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, venue of the event could hardly contain the guests that had turned out to hear UBA’s success story on the evening of Saturday the 18th of March 2007, as well as to explore what financial opportunities abound within the UBA group and the relationships they could develop with the bank.
First was the usual mingling and networking session in the fore room, an opportunity for the UBA team to informally tell the UBA story. Tony Elumelu, the UBA Group Managing Director was conspicuously absent but he wasn’t missed so much because the UBA quartet comprising Chika Mordi (Executive Director, Investment Banking and Asset Management), Chidi Okpala (Head, NRN Banking division), Celine Loader (Group Brand & Communications Director) and Achuzie Ezenagu (Group Head, Logistics) ably filled his big shoes. They equally impressed with their masterful presentations on UBA’s many products and services that will be of interest to the Nigerian, African diasporan community as well as other guests present.
Chika Mordi set the ball rolling with a speech titled ‘Creating Africa’s Bank’. He began by sharing UBA PLC’s vision which he said was “to be a role model for Africa’s businesses, and also to be dominant in Africa’s financial sector”. He gave a brief background history of UBA and also talked about their merger with Standard Trust Bank (STB) in 2004. Chika also gave other key performance indicators which all sounded very strong and positive and earned him a thunderous applause from the audience. According to him “UBA PLC is the clear leader in sub-saharan Africa, we have a deposit base of over 736 billion naira, as well as over a trillion naira in assets and contingencies”.Compared to their closets rivals, the figures Chika quoted were simply phenomenal since according to him “UBA’s closest rivals only have an asset base of 390 billion naira”.Chika also told the audience that UBA has the largest branch network in Nigeria, “We currently have about 516 branches in Nigeria while our closest competitor has only about 300 branches”, he said.
Chika’s speech was constantly applauded by the audience, an appreciation of what he and his team have managed to achieve in so short a time. He mentioned several other firsts which have been recorded by the bank and gave examples with the 5 million customer base that UBA currently has, as well as the several awards it has received including the ones from Agusto & Co which rated UBA PLC as the number one bank in Nigeria, The This Day award which named UBA Nigeria’s Bank of the year and the Euromoney Best domestic bank in Nigeria award to mention only a few.
On what drives the bank’s management, Chika said that it was their vision to become one of Africa’s largest banks.
Next in line was Chidi Okpala who spoke passionately about UBA’s novel financial product – The Non Resident Nigerian (NRN) Account. According to Chidi “NRN offers non-resident Nigerians the financial peace of mind they have been craving, particularly those who have complained in the past that the money they send home to their families for specific projects were being mismanaged”. Continuing he said that “UBA was the lead facilitator in ensuring that linkages between Nigerians in the diaspora and Nigeria were maintained”. He told the audience that statistics from external sources show that Nigerians in the diaspora remit back to Nigeria annually the sum of over $5 billion and that “the NRN is a credible, robust and sustainable platform to manage those remittances, thereby growing the Nigerian economy”.
Chidi also spoke briefly about the Non-resident Ghanaian (NRG) account, a sister product to the NRN account. He particularly got the audience excited when he informed them that UBA now offers mortgage products to Nigerians in the diaspora for properties in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu.
In her speech, Celine Loader who until her UBA appointment was the editor of UK based Aspire magazine thanked the audience for attending, according to her “UBA is grateful to you all for coming out this Saturday evening to listen to UBA’s story. As you all know, UK regulations prohibits us from fully discussing our current share offer; however our advice to those enquiring about how to buy UBA shares is to first get a stock broker in Nigeria”. She directed the guests to access the ubagroup.com website for further information.
Amongst those present in the audience were Garba Zakari, the minister of trade and economic affairs at the Nigeria High Commision who represented Dr. Christopher Kolade, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the court of St. James, Bola Mogaji (naijacommunity.com), Abiodun Olusesan (CEO of Radiant Glow), Ebere Nzewuji of Ben Television, Obi Emelonye (Nollywood Producer and Director) Ezey Marcel (Principal Director of Concepts College), Jideofor Adibe of Adonis & Abbey Publishers and many more.
Chief Yemisi Sanusi who has been a UBA customer for over 30 years gave a testimony about her impression of the bank to the applause of the audience. While making a parting commentary, Abiodun Olusesan of Radiant Glow cosmetics said that he was quite impressed with the various presentations and hoped to explore further relationships with the bank regarding the assistance they can give to small and medium scale enterprises like his. He was full of praise and admiration for the UBA team, “I’m happy seeing this young Nigerians driving and changing Nigeria’s financial sector, I see it as a sign of better things to come in the future”, he concluded.