United Bank for Africa, Banking Beyond Borders
United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc’s highly commended first-half financial statement was driven partly by growths in the group’s operations in other African markets and other parts of the world. Deputy Group Business Editor, Taofik Salako, reports that the growing influence of Nigerian corporates, especially financial institutions, in other non-Nigerian markets underlines the importance of the economic diplomacy of the new government
United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc was the most active stock at the country’s stock market last week, sustaining the momentum of activities that greeted the release of the group’s financial report and accounts for the first half ended June 30, 2023.
Since the release of the six-month results seven days ago, UBA’s share price has risen by more than 20 per cent as investors continue to react positively to the audited statement.
With more than 270,000 shareholders and 37 million customers, UBA, a first-generation legacy bank, is a leading tier one bank, the top hierarchy of the major financial institutions of systemic importance to the country; euphemistically referred to as “too big to fail”.
The performance of such an institution provides a bird-view of the macroeconomic analysis, especially given the interconnectivity of banking, business growth, returns, wealth distribution and the average living standards of the mass of economically active populace.
Independent market analysts have generally acclaimed UBA Group’s performance as impressive. Cordros Securities said UBA Group’s results were “impressive financial performance”, adding that it expected the “strong earnings growth to remain by year-end”.
FSDH Capital stated that UBA “reported a robust set of numbers”, noting that “investor reaction to the robust second quarter 2023 results was buoyant”.
The release of the UBA results came as President Bola Tinubu rounded off a multi-level foreign trips, largely centred on re-energising Nigeria’s global presence and recognition as an economic force to reckon with. Tinubu rolled many things into his participation at the G-20 Summit in India, hosting a bilateral Nigeria-India Presidential Roundtable that brought India and Nigeria’s private and public sectors together, a direct interaction with the Nigerian community in India, many bilateral discussions on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit and a well-applauded message at the main G-20 Summit.
With $14 billion immediate investment pipeline and several commitments secured in India, Tinubu moved to United Arab Emirates (UAE) to straighten a frosty relationship. The president resolved the lingering issues of visa ban on Nigerians and suspension of flights to Nigeria by UAE airlines.
Beyond the lifting of visa ban on Nigeria by authorities at UAE and the resumption of operations by UAE airlines as well as the investment deals in India, analysts said the biggest gains of the trips were the Nigerian businesses and investors. Tinubu, who is championing a socio-empaehic market-economy, was accompanied on the India trip by a large number of Nigeria’s leading investors and enterpreneurs; a mix of public and private sectors that has been the trademark of the new administration.
The connection between Nigeria’s economic diplomacy and the growing international influence of Nigerian businesses was illustrated by the UBA Group’s results.
Facts of the results
Key extracts of the audited results for the six-month period ended June 30, 2023 showed that UBA recorded triple-digit growths across major income lines, as the pan-African banking group continued to show substantial progress in increasing the contribution and market share from its subsidiaries in Africa and globally.
The six-month report showed that UBA’s profit before tax leapt by 371 per cent from N85.75 billion in first half 2022 to N404 billion in first half 2023. Profit after tax jumped by 437.8 per cent to N378.24 billion in first half 2023. Gross earnings grew by 164 per cent to N981.78 billion in June 2023 as against N372.36 billion in comparable period of June 2022. Operating income rose by 206.6 per cent to N783.96 billion in June 2023 as against N255.67 billion reported in comparable period of 2022.
The balance sheet indicated that total assets continued on upward trajectory, rising above the N15 trillion mark. It hit N15.38 trillion, representing a 41.7 per cent leap from N10.86 trillion recorded at the end of last year. Customer deposits also rose by 42.4 per cent to N11.14 trillion as against N7.8 trillion recorded at the end of 2022 while shareholders’ funds increased to N1.712 trillion, reflecting the group’s strong capacity for internal capital generation.
The impressive performance prompted the board of the bank to increase interim dividend payouts by 150 per cent. Shareholders will receive N17.1 billion as interim dividend for the first half 2023 as against N6.84 billion paid for first half 2022. This implies a dividend per share of 50 kobo in first half 2023 as against 20 kobo paid for first half 2022. The report indicated annualised return on average equity of 57.7 per cent as against 17.1 per cent it recorded last year.
Gains of global focus
UBA groups its businesses under three geographical segments of Nigeria, the home country; ‘Rest of Africa’, which comprises all subsidiaries in Africa, excluding Nigeria and ‘Rest of the World’, which comprises of UBA UK Limited, UBA New York branch and UBA Abu Dhabi. UBA operates some 1,000 business offices and touchpoints across 20 African countries. Beyond London, New York and Abu Dhabi, it also has notable presence in Paris and Cayman Island.
A segmental analysis of the businesses showed significant growths across the international subsidiaries, providing additional boost for equally impressive performance at the Nigerian market.
The ‘Rest of the World’ saw 182.1 per cent growth in turnover and 170.6 per cent increase in profit in first half 2023. The ‘Rest of Africa’ also reported 64.7 per cent growth in turnover with 55.6 per cent and 62.8 per cent increase in pre and post-tax profits respectively. Altogether, the non-Nigerian businesses accounted for almost a third of UBA Group’s turnover and about a quarter of the group’s pre-tax profit during the first half 2023.
Analysts have noted that the UBA’s global outlook has further validated the effectiveness of UBA’s long-term global strategy and positioning as the financial intermediary for Africa and the rest of the World, led by its largest shareholder and chairman, Mr. Tony Elumelu. A multi-preneur, Elumelu’s concept of ‘Africapitalism’ seeks to deploy private resources in critical sectors of African economy as a driving force for continental growth. This concept is also embedded in the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), which provides grants, training, mentoring and other resources to innovative African youths and start-ups.
Group Managing Director, UBA Plc, Mr. Oliver Alawuba, said the first-half of the year’s result has again demonstrated the benefits of the group’s long-held diversification strategy across Africa and globally.
“The three core geographical pillars of our business-Nigeria, ‘Rest of Africa’ and ‘Rest of the World’ are making strong contributions to the group’s profit, further justifying our global strategy and business positioning across Africa, UAE, France, UK and USA, and demonstrating the benefits of positioning UBA as the financial intermediary for Africa and the rest of the world,” Alawuba said.
According to him, the growth of the group’s international business, most recently in the UAE, reinforces the group’s earnings quality.
He said the latest results underscored the group’s commitment to consistently deliver value to its shareholders, noting that the group recorded strong growths in revenues and profits from its operations.
According to him, the group made progress in digital payments, retail penetration and also benefitted from the effect of revaluation gains, arising from the harmonisation of foreign exchange rates at the different access windows in Nigeria.
“Our business is on a steady growth trajectory, as we further strengthen our risk management traditions and practices necessary technology investments to deliver premium service to our customers. We have also continued to finance landmark projects in critical sectors of the economies across Africa, facilitating intra-Africa trade with our valuable offerings and provide a versatile last-mile distribution network for Africa-bound donor and multilateral agency funds,” Alawuba said.
Analysts also shared the optimistic view of the outlook for the group. FSDH Capital noted the positive trajectory of performance quarter on quarter. “Sequentially, the company recorded a steady 162.0 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth in gross earnings to N710.6 billion in 2Q23. The net interest income grew 32.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter to N158.5 billion, primarily due to a 23.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter increase in interest income from amortised cost and FVOCI securities.
Also, this was supported by a 41.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter increase in net fee and commission income to N73.7 billion in second quarter 2023, compared to N52.2 billion in first quarter 2023 and a significant rise in net trading and foreign exchange income to N392.2 billion in second quarter 2023, compared to N26.1 billion in first quarter 2023, leading to a robust 242.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter expansion in operating income to N608.2 billion in second quarter 2023,” FSDH Capital stated.
Executive Director, Finance and Risk, Ugo Nwaghodoh, said the group’s annualised return on average equity at 57.7 per cent was bolstered by improved operating income and revaluation gains.
“Our half year 2023 financial numbers reflect excellent performance across key metrics, as we diligently execute our priorities for the year. It also pointed out that the group maintains robust capital buffers to support business growth and loss absorbency. The group’s shareholders’ funds stood at N1.7 trillion, with a capital adequacy ratio of 36.4 per cent,” Nwaghodoh said.
UBA stated that it believes that its international business has significant potential for continuing growth and to materially contribute to group’s revenue and profit in the future.
Alawuba said the first-half performance served as a strong impetus to deliver superior returns this year.
“As we approach the last quarter of the year, the group remains strategically positioned to sustain the strong performance, consolidating on first half 2023 results, to deliver superior returns to our esteemed shareholders,” Alawuba said.