With the recent acquisition of Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) Plc by Titan Trust Bank Limited (TTB), a deal that took stakeholders by surprise last year, the latter is now positioned to maintain its lead as a technology-driven tier-1 bank, OLUWAFEMI ADEOYE writes.
When Titan Trust Bank Limited (TTB), one of the three newest entrants into the Nigerian banking industry, began operations in October 2019, many people gave it just a passing glance, but after a few years, the achievements of the lender have taken industry watchers by surprise.
Established on the 12th of December 2018 with a solid post-capitalization financial base in real cash, the bank has proven that it is ready to compete with long-standing and well-rooted Nigerian banks.
In pursuit of an expansionary course with the objective of building a stronger brand capable of taking on a larger market share of a continent striving for financial inclusion, the lender which is on a mission to take advantage of the identified gaps in the banking sector and address the unmet needs of the retail mass market, SMEs and corporates, again took the industry by surprise after it announced its acquisition of 89.4% interest in 104-Year-Old Union Bank, but later upped the stake to 93.4%, in barely four years of its existence.
Its expansionary drive could not have come at a better time with Tier-1 banks moving to HoldCo structures, FinTech standing as the next big thing, and the African economy desperately in need of strengthened financial systems.
The deal, regarded as one of the largest acquisition deals in the history of Nigeria’s banking industry, with an off-market deal worth N191 billion, was however formalized recently with Tropical General Investments Limited (TGI Group), the parent company of TTB, becoming majority shareholder and core investor in Union Bank.
The acquisition stands as the biggest in recent years, dwarfing the N120 billion Crown Mills paid to acquire Dangote Flour Mills and the N91 billion NIPCO paid for a majority share in Mobil Nigeria, capital market analysts noted. Also, this is the biggest deal in the banking space since the N72 billion merger between Access Bank and Diamond Bank Plc.
This is, however, not the first time that a smaller bank will acquire a bigger one in Nigeria, it is however the first time that an unlisted bank, which is barely four years old, will be acquiring a listed, century-old bank.
It is worthy to note that TGI Group, having been in Nigeria for over 3 decades with an established track record of successfully establishing and profitably running all their subsidiaries, is the perfect investor for Union Bank as they are evidently here for the long run rather than short term investors. This will obviously provide Union Bank a lot of stability and the established expertise of TGI and the team that they have put together to make Union Bank a bank of first choice for Nigerians in the very near future. Business analysts have, however, described the deal as a-win-win for Nigerians and the Nigerian economy.
The completion of the Titan-Union deal has also seen the exit of the former board and management team of Union Bank and the emergence of Mr. Farouk Mohammed Gumel and Mr. Mudassir Amray as its board chairman and new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) respectively, effective June 2, 2022. Other board appointments under the new ownership of the bank include Mr. Andrew Ojei, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed, and Mr. Lawrence Mackombo – all Non-Executive Directors.
But unknown to many, since the inception of TTB in October 2019, the bank has been on an upward trajectory and has further positioned itself as a challenger bank. At the start of its operations, the management team led by Mr. Mudassir Amray, the current chief executive of Union Bank, and Mrs. Adaeze Udensi, Ph.D. (current acting managing director of TTB), drew up a holistic and integrated approach to business modernization, which has formed the foundation for the bank’s superior customer-centric experience. The impact of this strategic decision led to a positive impact in the Bank’s performance within its first three months of operations where the bank recorded a profit after tax (PAT) of over N600 million.
In its determination to take financial services to every household in order to drive effective inclusion and participation in the recovery and growth of Nigeria’s economy, TTB invested substantially in technology and developed fully integrated service models that enable its customers to enjoy banking services through a wide range of channels. The bank believes in innovation, creativity, and the use of technology to enhance the lives of its customers while it also strives to ensure that its products and services are meeting the changing needs of its customers.
Recently, TTB launched and deployed the latest version of Oracle’s FCCM module, powering our AML/CFT infrastructure, used in over 120+ sites by top global banks. It has also invested in top-notch infrastructure for AML/KYC, as well as the Oracle Financial Services Analytical Application (OFSAA) to ensure rigorous analysis and measurement of its risk-performance objectives.
In less than three years of operation, TTB has grown to earn the confidence of the banking public, offering quality banking services with cutting-edge technology that enables its customers to enjoy banking services through a wide range of channels.
Therefore, with its recent acquisition of Union Bank, one of Nigeria’s long-standing and most respected financial institutions with a network of over 293 sales and service centres and over 937 ATMs spread across Nigeria, analysts believe the deal may trigger a fresh competition among money deposit banks in the country.
The lender has exhibited a grand ambition to mature to a Tier-1 bank in the next five years and is banking on its vast digital banking, strength to disrupt a space where the big five banks commonly known by their initials as FUGAZ hold sway.
The acquisition eases the path for TTB to become Nigeria’s sixth biggest lender, with Union Bank’s assets climbing in valuation to N2.6 trillion at the end of 2021 and Titan’s standing at N246 billion as at December 2021.
According to Mr. Tunde Lemo, chairman of Titan Trust Bank, with the combination of TTB, a tier-3 bank, and UBN, a tier-2 bank, “we are going to see the emergence of a tier-1 bank.”
“Union Bank is one of the largest in terms of network. But we think that after 104 years of operation, it can be rejuvenated by a bank like Titan Trust Bank that has cutting-edge modern banking skills.
“We believe that by combining fintech strength with the brand value of UBN, we can make an impression in Nigeria by deploying modern banking to every nook and cranny of the country.
“The deal represents a unique opportunity to combine Union Bank’s longstanding and leading banking franchise with TTB’s innovation-led model, which promises to enhance the product and service offering for our combined valued customers.
“So, there will be a significant synergy between the two institutions,” he said.
With the new development, the bank is poised for market dominance in the financial services industry, especially in the retail segment.