How Tomi Somefun is Repositioning Unity Bank Plc for Profitability
Prior to her 2015 appointment as the CEO of financially-distressed Unity Bank Plc, Tomi Somefun had built an enviable track-record of professional experience spanning over three decades. It has been five years since her appointment. How well has she performed?
A Look at the challenges Plaguing Unity Bank Plc
In 2006 when Unity Bank Plc began operations following a consolidation exercise that witnessed the merger of nine banks, everyone thought the bank was poised for greatness. But they were all wrong. The lender soon found itself grappling with quite a number of challenges which, at some point, almost drove it to the brink of collapse. One of these challenges is the problem of negative shareholders’ Funds, a financially-distressful situation that occurs when a company’s liabilities are larger than its assets. Unity Bank grappled with this problem for many years, maintaining negative shareholders’ Funds above N250 billion between 2017 and 2019.
Low capitalisation is not the only problem facing the bank. Huge non-performing loans (mostly due to borrowings by some of the bank’s former and current Board members) also posed a major challenge. Since assuming office, Tomi Somefun has relentlessly been fighting to turn things around.
How Mrs Somemun is Helping to Solve these Challenges
Under Tomi Somefun’s leadership as CEO, Unity Bank Plc has been on a gradual and meaningful journey towards recovery. Among the things she and her team have been trying to achieve is to attract potential investors who will bring in the funding that Unity Bank desperately needs. In 2018, the bank almost succeeded in attracting one of such investors. Milost Global, an American private equity firm, had reportedly proposed to invest the sum of $1 billion. Sadly, the deal failed to pull through.
As Unity Bank continues seeking to attract major funding, the management is doing everything within its capacity to properly reposition the company’s business units for growth. One of these measures is to cut down on costs of operation from N20.71 billion in FY 2018 to N19.57 billion in FY 2019. The bank has also been trying to shift focus from mainly corporate and investment banking to investing in agriculture in order to harness the inherent potential of the agricultural sector.
The bank also came up with an idea for UnityCares, a plan aimed at leveraging the Central Bank of Nigeria’s credit support intervention scheme for the health sector. Meanwhile, in line with its long-term plan towards attracting investors, Unity Bank has hired one of the best audit firms in the world (KPMG) to properly audit its financials.
These strategic measures taken by the bank are beginning to yield results. The bank’s latest half-year 2020 earnings report showed that its asset base had increased by 52% to N445.9 billion. Profit after tax for the period also increased by 8% to N543.3 million up from N502.6 million in H1 2019.
EDITOR’S NOTE: You may read the rest of the profile on page 58 of our 50 Most Influential Women in Business edition. Download it by following this link.
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