Diamond Bank Plc made history yesterday across the shores of the land as it became the first West African Bank to be listed on the Professional Securities Market (PSM) of the London Stock Exchange (LSE).The peak of the epoch making event, according to a statement from the bank, was the ringing of the bell by the Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank, Mr. Emeka Onwuka, signalling the starting of trading on the floor of the London Stock Exchange.
The event was witnessed by captains of industries, top government dignitaries including the chairman of Diamond Bank, HRM Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe; Mr. Pascal Dozie, Founder, Diamond Bank; and Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Prof Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke. Also among the dignitaries were the Director General of the Nigeria Security and Exchange Commission, Mr. Al Faki; and Mr. Chuka Eseka, MD Vetiva Capital Management Limited, who was the Financial Adviser/Domestic co-coordinator for the offer and a host of others. Commenting on the admission to the LSE, Diamond Bank CEO said “the listing is an important step in the evolution of the Bank’s strategy and is aimed at raising stronger capital base, attracting new shareholders, raising its international profile, enhancing the leadership position of Diamond Bank in the middle market and developing the Bank into a reputable financial conglomerate”.
Head of Primary Market, London Stock Exchange, Tracy Pierce, also stated: “I am personally delighted to welcome Diamond Bank to the London Stock Exchange. This is the second Nigerian company to be listed in the London Stock Exchange and the first Nigerian company to be listed on our Professional Securities Market, and we hope that many more companies from Nigeria will follow." In the same vein, Okereke-Onyiuke did not hide her emotions. She said: "This is a major fulfilment for me as Diamond Bank has placed Nigeria in the world map, especially the world financial system, by being listed not just in the London Stock Exchange but the first African company/bank to be listed in the Professional Securities Market of the London Stock Exchange. This is because the Professional Securities Market is the cream of the London Stock Exchange and you must pass through a rigorous process before being listed in this market. I do hope that many more Nigerian companies will come and be listed in this market."
The offer enabled Diamond to raise US$500million through 37.6 million newly issued GDRs, each representing 100 ordinary Diamond shares. The settlement price per GDR has been set at $13.30 and will be traded on PSM.The offer proceed will enable Diamond expand its footprint through traditional and electronic channels in order to seize the growing Nigerian retail market, enter new business segments like Mortgages, Insurance, Investment Banking and also strengthen its Francophone West Africa expansion.
Diamond Bank’s market capitalisation post-offering is now N263.2billion (US$2.3 billion as at January 02, 2008), while its shareholders’ fund is in excess of N100billion. Morgan Stanley is the Global Coordinator and Sole Book-runner for the offering.The Bank had its first major foreign equity capital injection in April 2007 when an international consortium led by Actis Capital LLP, as strategic investor, injected $134 million into the Bank. The investment gave Actis a 19.1 per cent stake in the Bank. Actis is a leading private equity investor in emerging markets, having significant investments across Africa, China, India, South East Asia and Latin America. Actis’ approach to investment is long-term and partner-oriented.
Diamond Bank has strategic relationships with international financial institutions and export credit guarantee agencies, thereby strengthening the Bank’s structured trade/project finance capacity and enhancing its contribution to the development of the economy. Such relationships include on-lending/trade facility arrangements with International Finance Corporation (IFC), European Investment Bank (EIB), Africa Export & Import Bank (AFRIEXIMBANK), US Export & Import Bank (USEXIMBANK), FMO and DEG.
The Group operates a leading Nigerian bank offering a wide range of financial services and products throughout Nigeria. Historically, the Group has focused on banking small and medium sized companies in Nigeria, with a particular strength in trade finance. In order to meet customers’ needs, the Group has maintained a geographical presence throughout Nigeria. In 2001, the Bank obtained a universal banking licence from the CBN and in recent years, the Group began to expand its products and services (including insurance and mortgage products), as well as its customer base.Established in 1991, Diamond remains one of the strongest in Nigeria and its core strengths lies in its unique SME business model and its solid brand associated with integrity, professionalism and good corporate governance.
The Bank considers itself to be a true “universal bank” in Nigeria, offering financial services across the entire client spectrum, through over 139 business locations in Nigeria with absolute commitment to quality. The Bank believes that it is well-placed to leverage its historical experience in the middle market to access the developing Nigerian retail market and expand into the existing market for large corporate clients.Members of the Group include one offshore banking subsidiary - Diamond Benin, which operates seven branches in the Republic of Benin and five non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs).
The NBFIs are Diamond Securities Limited, which provides brokerage, asset management and registrar services; Diamond Pension Fund Custodian Limited - one of the four institutions licensed in Nigeria to provide custodian services under the new laws following pension reform in Nigeria in 2004; ADIC Insurance Limited and ADIC Life Assurance Limited, which provide life and non-life insurance services in Nigeria; and Diamond Mortgages Limited - a licensed mortgage company. Diamond Bank earlier declared an impressive half-year results, showing 71 per cent increase in profit before taxation to N7.3 billion for the period ended October 31, 2007 from N4.2 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2006.
The remarkable performance of the Bank was as a result of the growth in business activities following the successful implementation of the Bank’s business strategy post-consolidation. In recent times, the Bank has introduced some innovative products and significantly enhanced its business model, gaining substantial mileage in the retail segment of the market. It has also strengthened its presence in the middle market where it has traditionally done very well. The Bank has introduced cutting edge products in its resolve to provide creative solutions to customers’ business problems. Some of the value-adding products introduced recently include Diamond Reach, a non resident account designed to offer Nigerians resident abroad the opportunity of maintaining account in their home country Nigeria.
The Bank also introduced a novel product called Diamond BusinessXpress Account. This is a specialised current account designed to support the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with attractive features like free transaction cost and easy access to credit facilities. In response to the need to facilitate effective payment for trade transactions between countries in the West African region, the Bank launched Diamond NGN/CFA EasyTrade. The product is meant to facilitate payment for goods/services by the Bank’s customers and non-account holders involved in intra-regional cross border trade between Nigeria and the Francophone West African countries, especially Benin Republic. The Bank also raised the bar in the international trade operations in Nigeria with the introduction of a document and transaction monitoring service tagged Diamond Trade Tracker. This is a web-based service designed to provide corporate customers access to on-line, real-time information on their international trade transactions at no extra cost.
The recent investments in promising financial services sub-sectors, i.e. insurance, mortgage and pension funds, will improve the growth, earning mix and profitability of the Bank’s business over time. Conscious of the fact that these businesses are outside its core competence areas, the Bank is working with very competent and experienced firms to speedily position the subsidiaries for market penetration. ADIC Insurance, for instance, has entered into a strategic alliance with a leading South African insurer, Hollard Insurance, toward the launch of a veritable assurance model in Nigeria.