February 1, 2018
Lagos (INVESTADVOCATE)-NOVA Merchant Bank Limited, a newly licensed merchant bank with focus on project financing, asset management, capital market operations, wholesale and investment banking has commenced business operations and opened its doors to the public at the formal launch of the bank on Thursday in Lagos Nigeria.
Phillips Oduoza, former group managing director (GMD) of United Bank for Africa Plc and chairman of Nova speaking at the launch said banking is changing globally with the emergence of new entrants and the infusion of non-traditional business models leveraging advances in technology.
“Nova means ‘new’ an outcome of our strategy session, we selected the name Nova because we want to do new things, new ideas, new thinking and assisting the clients in different business models,” he said.
Oduoza says this is the best time to come out as a new institution, “we opened at the time the Nigerian economy is coming out of recession, we believe Nigeria should not be left behind. Therefore, NOVA is here to bring a new experience in the banking industry,” he added.
The chairman of Nova reaffirmed his belief that the number of merchant banks in Nigeria is still very low and there is opportunity for more, considering the key role merchant banks play. “The major international financial institutions involved in investment banking are doing very well. Today, we do not have any of such institutions in Nigeria and this is the space NOVA plans to occupy not only in Nigeria but across Africa.”
Oduoza speaking on the strength of the new bank affirmed that NOVA is equipped with talented people and cutting-edge technology, necessary to deliver its mandate as a merchant bank. “We have structured our products and designed our business model around merchant banking. We have carved a niche for ourselves and we believe strongly we will deliver in this area,” he promised the customers.
On corporate governance, he assured the highest standards are maintained at NOVA. “There are three executive directors and six non-executive directors. So, we have twice the number of non-executive directors as executive directors. Out of those six directors, we have four independent directors. These board members are well accomplished and capable of independent opinion.”
Aliko Dangote who was the special guest of honour while declaring the bank open expressed his delight at Nova the latest entrant in a small but growing list of merchant banking institutions in Nigeria. “The birth of a financial institution of any kind is good news for the business community, since funding (or more precisely the lack of funding) is a major barrier to doing business in Nigeria,” he said.
Dangote who is Africa’s richest man said he was elated that NOVA is a Merchant Bank since the investment banking space in Nigeria is one that is yearning for creative intermediation through the use of innovative products.
He said the past couple of years have been quite challenging for the Nigerian banking industry as macroeconomic challenges weighed down on credit expansion, asset quality and capital adequacy.
Dangote further affirmed that banks also had to cope with a cocktail of regulatory changes. “There is really no let up as more regulatory changes (such as Basel IV) may soon kick-in. Changes in regulation coupled with rapid advancements in technology will challenge the business model of banks. Given the eminent personalities on your Board under the able leadership of Mr. Phillips Oduoza, I have absolutely no doubt that NOVA Merchant Bank will not just survive but will play a dominant role in the evolving financial services landscape,” he added.
According to Africa’s richest person, Phillips is a thoroughbred professional who has had an exceptional and unblemished banking career that has spanned three decades.
Chinedu Ikwudinma, managing director of the bank, further explained the strategic direction of NOVA which would focus on wholesale banking by offering trade services, project financing, cash management, corporate solutions, advisory services etc. “In investment banking, the bank would be looking at mergers and acquisition, advisory services, securities and trading, wealth and asset management as well as debt and equity capital management,” he said.
Dignitaries at the event included Oscar Onyema, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Bola Onadele, MD/CEO of FMDQ, Fola Adeola, retiring CEO of Sterling Bank Plc, Bismarck Rewane. MD/CEO of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Emmanuel Ijewere one of Nigeria’s most eminent accountants, Akin Dawodu, chief operating officer of Citi Nigeria and a host of other dignitaries
Reporting by Peter OBIORA