By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Finance) — Diamond Bank Plc – Nigeria’s fastest growing retail bank – is divesting from its West African banking operations in order to focus on Nigeria’s significant retail banking opportunity.
The bank said on Friday that it has agreed to sell its operations in Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal to Manzi Finances S.A., a Cote d’Ivoire-based financial services holding company.
Regulatory approvals have been obtained in all jurisdictions for the transaction, which is anticipated to close before December 31, 2017.
By focusing its resources exclusively on Nigeria, Diamond Bank said it is poised to capitalise on the positive macro fundamentals inherent in the Nigerian market.
These include Africa’s largest economy and evolving socio-economic trends driven by changing lifestyle preferences in favour of mobile delivered services, and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Commenting on the transaction, Diamond Bank’s CEO Uzoma Dozie said: “After 18 years of building the Diamond Bank franchise in other markets in West Africa, the time has come to fully apply our resources to Nigeria. This is aligned with Diamond Bank’s strategic objective: to be the fastest growing and most profitable technology-driven retail banking franchise in Nigeria.
We are prioritising the Nigerian market because of its vast potential. A large segment of the population is underbanked or unbanked and the use of technology and mobile banking is rising exponentially. This provides Diamond Bank with the opportunity to reach millions of people, and facilitate financial inclusion on an exceptional scale.
In addition, Diamond Bank already has a foundation for growth in Nigeria with over 15 million customers. We also have a framework in Nigeria that will allow us to scale rapidly, efficiently and cost effectively. In part this is due to our digitally-led approach which has reduced the need to have a network of physical branches to service customers.
Fundamentally this strategy stands to benefit all our key stakeholders – shareholders, customers and employees – in the immediate, medium and long term,” Dozie said.
Diamond Bank has already made significant strides in Nigeria in recent years.
Key Diamond Bank initiatives include supporting Nigeria’s future business leaders through its Building Entrepreneurs Today (BET) programme, improving financial inclusion by focusing on increasing female participation in the formal economy and the roll out of its Diamond Y’ello mobile banking app, which now has over 8.6 million users.
Diamond Bank Plc was incorporated on December 20, 1990 and began operating as a private limited liability company on March 21, 1991. 10 years later, in February 2001, Diamond Bank became a universal bank.
In January 2005, the bank became a public limited company following a highly successful Private Placement share offer which substantially raised the Bank’s equity base. In May 2005, the Bank was listed on The Nigerian Stock Exchange.