Diamond Bank Plc has received the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria, following its application, to operate as a national bank with immediate effect.
This is, however, subject to conclusion of the sale of Diamond Bank UK- DB UK Plc.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Uzoma Dozie, on Friday, with this approval, the bank will cease to operate as an international bank.
According to him, the move is part of Diamond Bank’s strategy to focus on Nigeria’s significant opportunities.
He 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 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.
“The change 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,” he added.
According to him, this creates room for the bank to deploy more capital for stronger growth in the quarters ahead through 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 also increases our capacity to expand the quantum of business and product services we can offer consumers, as well as representing a key step in strengthening our financial position.”
This development, he added 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.
According to him, top quality services to international customers will continue through its digital channels (Diamond Mobile, Internet Banking etc.) and network of correspondence banks.