FirstBank branches out to China

Updated: 2011-03-22 07:53

(China Daily)

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 FirstBank branches out to China

Dependably dynamic: FirstBank opened its Chinese branch in Beijing in 2009 and is there to stay. Photos provided to China Daily

Nigeria's bank of choice boasts the most diversified full-suite financial services

In keeping with its pioneering efforts, First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FirstBank), the largest retail lender in the West African sub-region, has extended its footprints on the globe by opening a representative office in Beijing, China.

This dynamic development provides FirstBank with a foothold in the lucrative Asian region, and the perfect platform to capture the burgeoning Sino-African commercial relationship and particularly Nigeria-China trade relations, while leveraging the powerful growth fundamentals of the Chinese economy.

Established 116 years ago, FirstBank, the most diversified financial services group in Nigeria, first ventured into the international market when it set it up a branch in London in 1982, which later became FBN Bank (UK) Limited, Nigeria's first full-fledged subsidiary bank in the UK in 2002.

FirstBank branches out to China

Furthermore, FBN Bank (UK) opened a branch in Paris in 2008, driving FirstBank's financial services to other parts of Europe. FirstBank has registered its presence in South Africa, through FirstBank a representative office in Johannesburg established in 2004, which is contributing in promoting excellent business relationships among African companies, especially the Nigerian-South African business community.

Led by an auspicious chairman, Oba Otudeko, and group managing director and CEO Stephen Olabisi Onasanya, FirstBank has over five million customers and 1.5 million shareholders. Otudeko, one of Nigeria's most successful businessmen was appointed chairman in 2009 having been in the board for 12 years. He said FirstBank is committed to the development of Nigeria.

"As we build scale within the nation, we also plan to complement our several offshore locations with a growing presence on the African continent. We will do all of this while prudently and conservatively managing our balance sheet and continuing to justify the faith that our customers and shareholders have placed in us. We commit to decent returns and growth on shareholders' investment in the bank."

With a history of strong commitment to the real sector from the early days of currency distribution in support of produce trade between West Africa and Europe, to its present status as a financial supermarket, FirstBank has continued to play an exemplary role in the development of the nation's real sectors. The bank has also been at the forefront of infrastructure projects that have transformed lives for different generations of Nigerians.

International expansion

FirstBank branches out to China

The opening of the China office is a key part of the bank's internationalization strategy, but more than that, it will export the African business model to Asia. It will also serve as a platform for African trade development and mutual cooperation between the two continents.

"At FirstBank we attach great importance to China as an economic power, and with the Chinese government's policies and the cooperative policies that have been signed between the two countries, the opportunities will be limitless," said Otudeko.

As head of many successful Nigerian companies across a range of sectors, Otudeko is looking forward to putting his significant expertise and influence to work by expanding opportunities between the two countries.

According to him, the two countries' greatest comparative advantages lie in infrastructure and power, transportation, logistics and health.

Stephen Olabisi Onasanya, group managing director and CEO of FirstBank said: "This is another exciting 'first' for our bank and an important milestone in our bank's history, as FirstBank's presence in China further accentuates the steady internationalization of our banking group." He further asserted that FirstBank will make Nigeria and Africa proud as a worthy ambassador to Asia.

FirstBank branches out to China

It is worth noting that FirstBank already has other banking relationships with Chinese institutions including an Memorandum of Understanding with Yuemei Group Company Limited, a textile manufacturing firm, with a value of $50 million.

FirstBank also enjoys a partnership with Shenzhen Energy Investment Company Limited (Shenzhen Energy Group) in the construction of a 3,000 megawatts gas turbine power plant in Nigeria, worth $2.4 billion, plus a memorandum of understanding with China's Guangdong Xinguang International China-Africa Investment Limited for a $500 million investment in Ogun State.

The Guangdong Xinguang Group's collaboration with FirstBank would be in the areas of investment banking, project financing, business advisory services and correspondent banking relationship.

In addition, FirstBank has a Memorandum of Understanding with China Construction Bank to cover global banking collaboration.

China Daily

FirstBank branches out to China

(China Daily 03/22/2011 page19)