Nigeria’s apex bank, Central Bank of Nigeria has granted Diamond Bank Plc the approval to operate as a national bank following its application for it.
The bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Uzoma Dozie, said this in a statement signed by the bank’s Head of Media, Ezechinyere Anyanwu, on Friday in Abuja.
According to Dozie, the move was part of Diamond Bank’s strategy to focus on Nigeria’s significant opportunities.
He said that the change in the license means Diamond Bank could expand product services to Nigerian consumers.
Dozie said: ”With this approval, the bank will cease to operate as an international bank.
“The re-licensing as a national bank supports Diamond Bank’s objective of streamlining its operations to focus resources on the significant opportunities in the Nigerian retail banking market, and economy as a whole.
“The move follows Diamond Bank’s decision to sell its international operations, which included the disposal of its West African Subsidiary in 2017 and Diamond Bank UK, the sale of which is currently in its final stages.
“The change to national bank status also enables the bank to maintain a lower minimum capital requirement of 10 per cent, as against 15 per cent required for international banks.”
Dozie said that the approval would enable the bank to deploy more capital for stronger growth in the quarters ahead through additional investment in technology platforms.
He said it would also enable the bank deploy funds to customer acquisition and expansion of loans to the critical sectors of the economy.
According to Dozie, the move to a national banking license marks a continuation of a strategy to focus on Nigeria’s significant fundamental trends.
This, he said included a large under-banked population and Africa’s biggest economy.
He said: ”By focusing and optimising our resources towards Nigeria and the priority area of retail banking, we will be better positioned for longer-term growth and greater profitability.
“The reduction in minimum capital requirement also increases our capacity to expand the quantum of business and product services we can offer consumers.
“It will also represent a key step in strengthening our financial position.
“This development does not affect the bank’s ability to offer services to its clients in international locations.
”Rather, with focus on its domestic business being priority, the bank also intends to pay down in full, the Eurobond loan of $200m at maturity in May 2019.
According to the chief executive, there will be no refinancing of the loan.
He said this was because of the intent to pay down with foreign exchange generated from its internal operations, a reflection of the solidity of its operations and funds flow in the last few years.
He further said that top quality services to international customers would continue through the bank’s digital channels and network of correspondence banks.