The Central Bank of Nigeria has granted Wema Bank PLC national banking license. This follows the apex bank’s final approval to Wema Bank to convert from a Regional Bank to a National Bank.
In 2010, Wema Bank downscaled to operate only within its core areas of business – South-South, South-West and FCT Abuja. Now, the Bank with a capital base of N43.8 billion has met the regulatory requirements for the National Banking license as stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria. This historic event has made Wema Bank the first bank to be granted a National Banking License having previously operated with a Regional License.
According to Segun Oloketuyi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Wema Bank Plc, – “This Approval represents a milestone for the Bank in the delivery of its Project LEAP commitments. Six (6) years ago, we took a decision to refocus the Bank’s operations on its areas of strength and build a sustainable institution. We took advantage of the new licensing regime and applied for a Regional authorization with a pledge to expand in the near future, once the turnaround project was completed. The Bank’s transformation was implemented in three phases; first to stabilize the Bank, second to prepare the building blocks for growth and third to go for growth. We are now within the third phase of the transformation project”
The CEO stated that the new license has created opportunities to scale up growth, and added that the Bank will continue to strategically select its business locations across the country with focus on areas where return on investment will be maximized, and shareholder value enhanced over the medium to long term.
“To ensure that this approval is leveraged appropriately, we are already in the process of raising $100m in Tier 2 capital and would commence a Tier 1 capital raise in Q1 2016. This will further position the bank to pursue its growth strategy. The Bank remains on course in its turnaround program as evidenced by its robust balance sheet and sustained profitability, which would be maintained through its national authorization”.
He expressed gratitude to the bank’s stakeholders, stating that the Wema transformation project has succeeded largely due to the great support received from customers and shareholders. “Our priority remains delivering delightful and memorable service to our customers.”
Established in 1945, Wema Bank is Nigeria’s oldest indigenous bank. Wema Bank offers a range of retail and SME banking, corporate banking, treasury, trade services and financial advisory to its numerous customers.
In 2009, the Bank underwent a strategic repositioning exercise which culminated with the Bank’s decision to operate as a commercial Bank with regional authorisation in South-South Nigeria, South-West Nigeria, and Abuja, the FCT in 2011. Wema Bank operates a network of over 135 branches and service stations across Nigeria backed by a robust ICT platform.