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Zenith Bank Plc clinches Champion Newspapers’ 2021 Bank of the Year Award

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THOMAS IMONIKHE

 

Preparations for the Champion Annual Awards received a major impetus weekend as Nigeria’s largest and one of Africa’s largest financial institutions by tier-1 capital, Zenith Bank Plc has been named Champion Newspapers Bank of the Year for 2021.

 

The award, which has been communicated to Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Bank is the Newspapers’ modest acknowledgment of the

the uncommon zeal and commitment of the Bank’s Board, Management and Staff to growing Nigeria’s economy by supporting major businesses that constitute the engine of real development, boosting both productivity and employment generation during the year under review.

 

According to the letter by the Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Champion Newspapers, Dr. Mrs. Nwadiuto Iheakanwa, Zenith Bank was picked by the top echelon of the media organization after careful consideration of all the major feats the institution has been able to achieve last year.

 

It would be recalled that Mr. Onyeagwu was named Champion Newspapers Bank CEO of the Year 2019 following his outstanding performance in lifting the fortunes of the institution, cutting edge services to teeming customers and handsome dividends to shareholders.

 

However, breaking the news of the Bank of the Year Award, Nwadiuto explained that the choice was unanimous describing it as “a product of the painstaking selection of our Board of Editors, our modest way of recognizing leaders in both public and private sectors of the economy who have paid a greater sacrifice in ensuring that the fundamental objectives and ideals of our nationhood are sustained as well as promoting good corporate governance.

 

 

She pointed out that “on all scores, our findings, largely corroborated by that of independent assessors, confirm that Zenith Bank Plc, in line with its vision: ‘To become the leading Nigerian, technology-driven, global financial institution that provides distinctive range of financial services’, has become a bank of first choice among teeming customers given its array of cutting edge products including digital banking ,which had earned the financial institution plaudits from informed economic experts and global rating agencies.

 

As a leading full-service commercial bank operating through a network of over 500 branches and service outlets, spanning several  continents and countries and boasting of millions customers, she added Zenith Bank “stands as the institution to beat in terms of product offerings and service delivery.

 

Part of the award letter which has already been accepted by the Bank read: “We note with delight the uncommon zeal and commitment of the Bank’s Board, Management and Staff to growing Nigeria’s economy by supporting major businesses that constitute the engine of real development thus boosting both productivity and employment generation.

 

“Besides, the Bank’s acclaimed leadership in digital transformation, use of advanced analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics process automation, has greatly sustained excellent banking services and improve customers’ experience. Most importantly is Zenith Bank’s impressive score cards in all performance indicators since its establishment over three decades ago.

 

“It’s also a truism that the bank has consistently excelled and set the pace in the financial sector through stellar performance in assessments by global and local rating agencies as well as payment of dividends to shareholders.

 

“As watch dog of society, it is our duty not only to track and document your performance but also to acknowledge your commitment to serve and your doggedness to transform the Nigerian society.

 

“We are, therefore, working towards a grand ceremony for the presentation of this award on Zenith Bank as 2021 Bank of the Year at the 2021 Champion Newspapers’ Annual Awards to be held in May of 2022” even as Dr. Nwadiuto  congratulated the institution on this “profound achievement”.

 

According to the Corporate Profile of the institution, it was founded by Mr. Jim Ovia (CON), established in May 1990 and commenced operations in July of the same year as a commercial bank.

 

‘The bank became a public limited company on June 17, 2004, and was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) now Nigerian Exchange (NGX) on October 21, 2004, following a highly successful Initial Public Offering (IPO).

 

‘Zenith Bank provides individual customers and corporate clients with a range of financial products and services from over 500 branches and business offices across all states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

 

‘It also has presence in the United Kingdom (UK), Ghana, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, China and United Arab Emirates (UAE), and its shares are traded on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) and the

London Stock Exchange (LSE).

 

‘In just over thirty years, Zenith Bank has grown enormously to become Nigeria’s largest and one of Africa’s largest financial institutions by tier-1 capital, with shareholders’ funds of NGN1.1 trillion ($2.64 billion) as at 31st December, 2020.

 

‘Zenith Bank’s management team is made up of seasoned professionals led by Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the Group Managing Director and CEO, who took over the reins in June 2019.

 

‘Having been honed by its founder, Mr Jim Ovia, successive leaderships of the bank drew upon its superior people, excellent service culture and continuous deployment of state-of-the-art technology to keep the institution at the forefront of Nigeria’s banking industry.

 

‘The seamless transition at the bank is clear evidence of a well-planned institution and is consistent with the bank’s tradition and succession strategy of grooming leaders from within.

 

‘The bank is a clear leader in the Nigerian financial space, with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products and solutions that ensure convenience, speed and

safety of transactions.

 

‘Zenith Bank has demonstrated rare resilience and has witnessed exponential growth in virtually all areas. Today, Zenith is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s strongest financial institutions and one of the country’s largest banks by market capitalization, shareholders fund and profitability.

 

‘The bank’s growth momentum has increased over time and

impacted positively on its standing as a market leader.

With a team of dedicated and well-trained professionals, the bank leverages its robust Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to provide services to its millions of customers.

 

‘Zenith Bank places premium on its core business strategy which is anchored on “People”, “Technology” and “Service” to create value for its clientele.

 

‘With strict adherence to global best practices, the bank combines market knowledge, professionalism, expertise and ICT to create products and provide services that anticipate and meet customers’ dynamic needs.

 

Strategic Direction

 

‘Zenith Bank has clearly distinguished itself in the industry through superior service quality, unique customer experience and sound financial indices. People and talent are two equalizers in the bank’s value chain, and the institution has leveraged these to create innovative solutions that often exceed customers’ expectations.

 

‘The bank’s commitment to create, build and nurture value amongst its stakeholders is driven by the following statements of strategic intent:

 

‘The Vision: “To become the leading Nigerian, technology-driven, global financial institution, providing a distinctively unique range of financial services”

 

‘The Mission: “To build the Zenith brand into a reputable international financial institution recognized for innovation, superior performance and creating premium value for all stakeholders”.

 

‘Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Excellence, Best corporate governance, Commitment, Transparency and Service”

 

Strategic Relationships

 

‘Our partnership with the under listed institutions has enabled us to provide our customers with excellent Correspondent Banking Services, Letter of Credits and other

 

‘Foreign Exchange transactions:

 Zenith Bank (UK) Limited

 Citibank N.A. New York

 Citibank London, Commerzbank Ag, BNP Paribas

 JP Morgan Chase (JV partnership to Manage the Nigerian Foreign Reserve)

 Australian & New Zealand Bank (ANZ)

 Deutsche Bank

 Fortis Bank, London

 ING Bank

 HSBC

 Standard Bank, South Africa

 Standard Chartered Bank, UK

 Sumitomo Bank, Japan

 

‘We have also established relationships with other multilateral financiers and Export Credit Agencies (ECA) that provide medium/long-term lines of credit for on-lending.

 

‘These include:

 China Export-Import Bank (CEXIM)   International Finance Corporation (IFC)

 Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO)

 African Development Bank (AfDB)

 Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM)

 Export-Import Bank of US (US EXIM)

 European Investment Bank (EIB)

 Export Development Canada (EDC)

 

Sustainability

 

‘Zenith Bank has clearly distinguished itself in the Nigerian financial services industry as an institution that is committed to building a more sustainable and inclusive economy and one that promotes responsible business practices in Nigeria through the integration of sustainability principles in its business operations. With Executive Management support, all the bank’s credit and investments are now being screened for Environmental and Social (E&S) risks.

 

‘To align its processes with best practices, the bank continues to maintain its commitments as signatory to various domestic and international sustainability frameworks including United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); United Nations Global Compact Principles; Central Bank of Nigeria Sustainable Banking Principles; and International Finance Corporation Performance Standards.

 

‘The Bank is a founding signatory of United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative Principles for Responsible Banking.

 

‘After joining 130 banks across the globe to launch the Principles in September 2019, the Bank has vigorously pursued the implementation of the Principles thereafter, signifying its intention to create value for its shareholders, customers, clients, investors, communities and the environment through its practices, operations and investments.

 

‘The Bank has been a leader in monitoring and reporting sustainability impact. Since becoming the first bank in Africa to publish a stand-alone sustainability report in accordance with the GRI Standards: Core Option in 2016, Zenith Bank has published five stand-alone reports as at 2020.

The Bank is one of very few institutions in Nigeria that track their carbon emissions using a certified tool which is built on the internationally recognized GHG Protocol.

 

‘In furtherance of its commitment to entrenching global best practices in its operations, the bank recently embarked on a grand plan to systematically reduce its carbon emissions footprints through the replacement of diesel-powered generators in its branches with solar panels.

 

‘The Bank  is also making significant progress with the upgrade of our Energy Centre. The new ultramodern Centre will run 70% on gas and 30% on diesel, allowing us to eliminate the use of about thirty (30) 200kva diesel generators serving our Head Office and some of our business offices around Victoria Island, Lagos.

 

‘Also, in consonance with the Sustainable Development Goals, the bank demonstrated commitment to empowering women-owned businesses by introducing a special loan product called Z-Woman which is specifically targeted at offering single digit interest rate loans for women led businesses in all sectors/segments of the economy.

 

‘Zenith Bank’s sustainability and CSR initiatives are hinged on the belief that today’s business performance is not all about the financial numbers – we believe that an institution’s social investments, contributions to inclusive economic growth and

development as well as improvements in the condition of the physical environment, all constitute a balanced scorecard.

 

‘Through its CSR initiatives, the bank has embodied the overarching objective of the 17 SDGs, which provide a framework for addressing the major challenges confronting our

society.

 

‘Its social investments are targeted at health, education, women and youth empowerment, sports development and public infrastructure enhancement.

 

‘Overall, Zenith Bank’s total social investments in 2020 stood at NGN3.29 billion ($8.62million), representing 1.66 per cent of our Profit After Tax.

 

‘The Bank remains committed to furthering the economic, cultural and social development of host communities, particularly through community-based initiatives and

philanthropy.

 

‘As a good corporate citizen, it continues to deliver projects that have long-term social and economic benefits for the communities because it believes that its business is only as strong as the communities in which it operates.

 

‘To demonstrate its commitment to creating and expanding opportunities, the bank regularly makes donations towards the setting up of ultramodern ICT centres in several educational institutions across the country.

 

‘It also supports various developmental projects and healthcare delivery causes in Nigeria, and contributes to the development of sports in Nigeria through its sponsorship of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the Zenith Women Basketball League, and the Zenith Bank Delta State Principals’ Cup, to mention a few.

 

‘The bank also demonstrates leadership when its host communities deal with crisis. For example, following the unfortunate gas explosion incident of March 15, 2020 which led to the loss of lives and properties at the Abule-Ado area in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, Zenith Bank announced a donation of NGN100 million to the Emergency Relief Fund set up by the Lagos State Government for the victims of the explosion.

 

‘Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Zenith Bank’s commitment to sustainability has not waned, as the bank donated NGN1 billion as part of the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private sector-led initiative to support the Nigerian Government to combat the COVID-19 crisis.

 

‘Also, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its inherent impact on financial institutions, Zenith Bank leveraged an offer from International a Finance Corporation (IFC) for emergency relief working capital loan of a $100 million to support the bank’s trade finance activities.

 

‘This loan is being deployed to meet the trade and financing needs of our customers, and we remain committed to helping them alleviate the financial pressures brought upon their businesses by the COVID-19 pandemic’.

 

Credit Ratings

 

‘The credit ratings of Zenith Bank are:

*Standard and Poor’s ratings:

B/Stable/B (Issuer Credit Rating) and ngBBB/ngA-2 (National Scale Rating).

 

* Fitch ratings:

‘1) Long-term foreign currency IDR: ‘B+’ – Negative Outlook

(2) Short-term foreign currency IDR: ‘B‘

(3) National Long-term rating: ‘AA-(nga)’

(4) National Short-term rating: ‘F1+(nga)’

 

* Moody’s ratings:

 

‘(1) Long Term Debt – B2 with Stable Outlook

(2) Foreign currency deposit – B3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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