The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has given Diamond Bank Plc the approval, to operate as a national bank with quick effect following its application to be one.
The approval was however, subject to conclusion of the sale of Diamond Bank UK- DB UK Plc.
Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Uzoma Dozie, on Friday, while speaking said that, with this approval the bank will cease to operate as an international bank.
Uzoma also noted that change in licence means Diamond could expand product services to Nigerian consumers.
“The re-licensing as a national bank supports Diamond’s objective of streamlining its operations to focus resources on the significant opportunities in the Nigerian retail banking market, and economy as a whole,” he stated.
He also added that the move followed Diamond’s decision to sell its international operations, which included the disposal of its West African subsidiary in 2017 and Diamond Bank UK, the sale of which is currently in its final stages.
“Uzoma also said that the change from international to a national bank status also enables the bank to maintain a lower minimum capital requirement of 10 per cent as against 15 per cent required for international banks.”
According to him also, this bold step would create room for the bank to deploy more capital for stronger growth in the quarters ahead by additional investment in technology platforms, customer acquisition and expansion of loans to the critical sectors of the economy.
The chief executive officer said, “The move to a national banking licence marks a continuation of our strategy to focus on Nigeria’s significant fundamental trends, including a large under-banked population and Africa’s biggest economy.
“By focusing and optimising our resources towards Nigeria and the priority area of retail banking, we will be better positioned for longer term growth and greater profitability.
The reduction in minimum capital requirement, would also increase the Bank’s capacity to enlarge the quantum of business and services rendered to customers, and also representing a key step in strengthening the Bank’s current financial position.
He added that this new development, did not affect the bank’s ability to offer services to its clients in international locations, rather, with focus on its domestic business being priority.
He said the bank also intended to pay down in full, the Eurobond loan of $200m at maturity in May 2019.
“There will be no refinancing of the loan as the intent to pay down with foreign exchange generated from its internal operations, a reflection of the solidity of its operations and funds flow in the last few years,” he added.
Uzoma concluded by saying there would be no stop in top quality services to international customers, as all transactions by international customers will continue through the use of its digital channels (Diamond Mobile, Internet Banking etc.) and network of correspondence banks.