We are deepening our Nigeria operations and consolidating our investments in Africa”-Phillips Oduoza, UBA GMD/CEO.


Phillips Oduoza,
Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO) of the UBA Group
recently sat with a group of senior business journalists to discuss the recent
realignment of the bank’s operations to boost efficiency. Here are excerpts
from the interview. 
Background on
UBA’s business re-alignment. 
In 2012, the Bank
came up with a transformation agenda by launching 3-year Program, tagged
Project Alpha. The Project is essentially to help us achieve industry
leadership by 2015 through the implementation of key strategic initiatives.
Phillips Oduoza, GMD/CEO, UBA Plc  
pursuit of Project Alpha plans, the Bank effected key changes to its operating
structure and announced key appointments to drive its quest for industry
leadership by 2015.
Project Alpha is a 3-year road map of key transformation initiatives, designed
to reinforce the Group’s strategic positioning and leverage its huge Africa
presence to fully exploit the burgeoning opportunities in Africa’s economic
order to accelerate the level of achievement of the Project Alpha objectives,
the Group has announced the splitting of its operations into two broad
divisions, UBA Africa and UBA Nigeria.
is however imperative that I underscore the fact that the 
two divisions are
mere directorates of the UBA Group and  there is no entity called UBA
Africa or UBA Nigeria. 


Phillips Oduoza, GMD/CEO, UBA Plc 
the creation of UBA Africa Division, the Bank will be able to grow and deepen
the bank’s presence in member countries, optimise the ensuing synergies within
the network, deepen service delivery excellence, and grow productivity for
improved profitability.
The rationale for
expanding our revenue base
As a Bank, we
have always realized that expanding into other African countries is a key
strategy for expanding our revenue base.  You will recall that Standard Trust Bank (STB) was the
first Nigerian bank to venture into Ghana which was the initial step for the
bank’s expansion into West Africa and Africa. This conviction has helped to
shape our thinking about venturing into Africa
The rationale
becomes more compelling when you imagine the heavy dependence of Nigeria on
crude oil for its earnings and the attendant volatility and uncertainties. So,
we felt that one of the strategies to add value to our shareholders, was to
diversify our investments and revenue streams as a means to naturally hedge
against uncertainties around our income streams
Our Africa Play
We commenced
aggressive expansion into  Africa in 2008 following the merger of STB and
old UBA. We started with Cameroon in 2008, then went into Benin Republic,
Burkina Faso, and then Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique, Democratic
Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Sierra Leone, Guinea Conakry, Chad and so
Huge business
opportunities abound in these countries and playing in these economies from the
home front has enabled us to understand the economic drivers in these
economies. We have also improved our country-to-country synergies to
create competitiveness and thus enhance profitability from our African
Post African
After the
investments have been done, we started developing the businesses.  It is
important to understand that this process of setting up in a country involves
getting the banking license, putting in place infrastructure and the people,
and then keying into the economic drivers of the country, to start developing
your business.  This is what we have been doing since 2011.  Having
made the investments in the last few years, we believe that this is the time to
start taking the full benefits of our investments in Africa.


Phillips Oduoza,  GMD/CEO, UBA Plc
How we intend to
maximize benefits from African business
With the new
structure, we will extract more value and maximize the benefits from our
investments across Africa. Our plan is ensure that UBA Africa contributes 50%
of the Group’s earnings from its current position of 20%.  We believe that
high average GDP growth rate of African countries is indicative of the
burgeoning opportunities that can help to deliver better returns for our
African operations.
this end, the UBA Africa Division will be made up of the 18 African country
subsidiaries of the UBA Group outside Nigeria. UBA Africa will have a CEO
supported by two Deputies along the Bank’s two core product lines: Wholesale
Banking (comprising, Corporate Bank, Institutional Bank and Public Sector) and Retail
Banking (comprising Personal Banking and SME Banking).
Uzoka, Deputy Managing Director, has been appointed as the Chief Executive
Officer, UBA Africa while Emeke Iweriebor, an Executive Director, has been
appointed UBA Africa Deputy CEO, Retail Bank; and Oliver Alawuba is now UBA
Africa Deputy CEO, Wholesale Bank.
new UBA Nigeria Division of the Group which will be managed by Mr. Apollos
Ikobe, DMD Domestic Bank. UBA Nigeria Division will consolidate all of UBA’s Nigerian businesses
into a single division and will comprise all the Regional Banks in Nigeria,
Corporate Bank, Energy Bank, and UBA Pensions.  The Nigeria division will
intensify the bank’s focus on the Nigerian market, the largest economy in
Africa, with the aim of expanding its market share, while deepening UBA’s
wallet share of existing businesses.
Support for UBA
Africa and UBA Nigeria
Both UBA Africa
and UBA Nigeria directorates are going to be supported by the Group verticals
like a common technology, a central processing unit, and human resources. In
addition to the verticals, you also have functions like treasury, which will
manage the liquidity for both directorates. We also have UBA London which will
also support both sides of the business. Our representative office in Paris
will essentially support our French speaking African operations, and our
franchise in New York which will support both businesses.
Visibility for
African operations
What we have done
with this restructuring is to create a focus and visibility for our African
operations. We have put a deputy managing director in charge with the country
subsidiary CEOs reporting to him. 
Governance for
the new structures
The new divisions
will not affect the current operational structure of the subsidiaries. Each
subsidiary still has a board and CEO fully regulated by the regulatory
authority in the respective host country central bank as well as Nigerian
central bank.
Future of UBA
expansion into Africa
It is important
to say that the Bank is still bullish about its African expansion plan. However,
we have completed the phase 1 and we are now consolidating and hope to launch
phase 2 of the expansion plan immediately after the consolidation phase.


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