The Nigerian banking scene is experiencing some last minute changes before the year comes to an end. Two year old Titan Trust bank is on its way to acquiring a majority stake in 104-year-old Union Bank in Nigeria.
In a statement published on December 23 on the Nigerian Stock exchange (NGX) website, Union Bank announced a share sale agreement between it and Titan Trust bank for the purchase of 89.39% majority stake by Titan Trust bank. The completion of the deal is “subject to regulatory approvals and the fulfilment of certain conditions precedent.”
Tell me about Titan Trust Bank (TTB)
With its few physical branches (only two bank branches in Lagos), TTB styles itself as a digital bank first. The bank is chaired by former Deputy Governor of the CBN and Chairman of Flutterwave, Tunde Lemo. It’s CEO Mudassir Amray is a former Citibank executive. In its 2020 financial statement , TTB reported a profit after tax of ₦2.9 billion on gross earnings of ₦8.5 billion up from ₦2.5 billion gross earnings reported a year earlier when it just commenced operations. It acquired it’s national banking license in April 2019 and commenced operations in October 2019.
Union Bank PLC which has been operating in Nigeria since 1917 according to data from Nairametrics the bank has a market valuation of ₦147 billion (≃$350 million), trading at a price to earnings ratio of 5.69x, it has a net asset of ₦264 billion (≃$642 million) and total asset of ₦2.56 trillion ($6.239 billion).
Hint: While many people didn’t see the acquisition coming, earlier in the year, Titan’s Executive Director, Adaeze Udensi mentioned that the bank was on track to doubling it’s net income and it was looking for opportunities to scale up and also focusing on growth.
Zoom out: This deal is one of the most outstanding acquisitions in the Nigerian banking history and when consummated, Titan Trust will own the largest equity stake by a single investor in any of the country’s publicly quoted banks.
2. KENYA’S CENTRAL BANK REGULATES DIGITAL LENDERS
After many months of complaints, Kenya’s digital lenders are now under the central bank of Kenya’s (CBK) control.
The 2021 amended act which allows the CBK to license and supervise previously unregulated digital lenders went into effect on Thursday December, 23rd. The amendment which was signed into law earlier this month will mean that digital credit providers will need a license from the CBK to operate and now fall under the same laws as commercial banks operating in the country.
Why this move?
“Concerns have been raised by the public about predatory practices of the unregulated digital credit providers, and in particular, their high cost, unethical debt collection practices, and abuse of personal information” The CBK noted in the announcement and this was the catalyst for this Act. This new law means that credit providers can no longer use threats of or violence to retrieve unpaid loans as it has been reported by kenyans that digital lenders sometimes go as far as calling and harassing family members of debtors.
The CBK has prepared a draft Digital Credit Providers Regulations and has called for public input. This new law requires the CBK to publish these regulations in three months, which means the draft should become effective in March, 2022.
Meanwhile, in the midst of this new Act, the IMF revealed on Thursday that multiple bank executives have protested the CBK’s reluctance to approve lenders’ request to raise the cost of loans following the scrapping of lending rate controls on November 7, 2019.
The effect of this is that banks will continue to play safe by investing government securities and restrict lending to even high-quality customers with a lower risk of default to avoid getting in trouble with the regulator.
Zoom out: The new Act in place for digital lenders, now means that the loan interest controls imposed on all lending institutions now apply to digital lenders and they too will have to seek approval from the Central Bank for the pricing of their loans just like other commercial physical banks. The full draft regulations for digital banks are available here.
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Moroccan real estate valuation startup, Agenz has secured 5 million dirhams ($540K) in seed funding. This funding from Azur Innovation Partners comes in less than a year since the launch of Agenz and is one of the largest seed round funding to happen in Morocco.
Agenz was founded in 2020 by brothers Malik Belkeziz and Badr Belkeziz, and it aims to provide real-time, precise real estate appraisal and analysis by bringing together a select team of staticians, engineers and data scientists in Morocco. Agenz allows visitors of it’s site to value their property for free, look at local prices and also pick a real estate agent.
The company will use these funds to improve research and development activities and expand the company all over Morocco in coming weeks.
4. APPLE WORKERS STAGE CHRISTMAS EVE WALKOUT
On Christmas eve Apple workers advocacy group, Apple Together, which is made up of current and former Apple Inc. workers, announced plans for a walkout/callout by store employees.
The workers’ demands include safer working conditions amid the pandemic, hazard pay, healthcare coverage, and more accessible paid leave.
How did the strike go? The scale of the walkout is unclear so far and so is the number of workers who participated. Based on feedback provided to AppleInsider very few employees participated in the 10 stores they reached out to but Huffpost reports that at least 50 employees called out of work on Friday in participation.
This strike action is the latest in a growing number of issues reported concerning worker conditions and activism actions by Apple employees this year. There has been some development reported on twitter concerning demands being met in some stores but nothing has been confirmed by Apple yet.
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