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Keystone Bank targets 15% loan book growth in 2013

By The Citizen
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The management of Keystone Bank Limited, at the weekend, projected a modest 15 per cent growth in loan book this financial year.

The bank also intends to improve in other key financial indicators such as  profit and balance sheet.

Addressing newsmen in Lagos, chief executive of the bank, Philip Ikeazor,  said the institution had returned to profit in the 2012 full year, and that the results would be released soon, after the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Besides the return to profitability, other snippets of the result, he explained, include a stable and growing deposit base.

He said: 'We are focused on growing quality risk assets but in doing so the board and management is being careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past. We intend to grow deposit base and focus on low cost deposits.'

Ahead of plans by the bank's shareholder- the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) recapitalize the bank along with the two other bridged banks (Mainstreet Bank and Enterprise Bank) in the coming months, the bank chief assured of the enormous value that had been added to the three banks.

For Keystone Bank, for example, he noted that its 200 branches across the country and the possibility of growing the outlets to 250 outlets within a very short time, makes it a Tier 2 bank and a very good prospect.

'If you inherit a bank that the balance sheet has been cleaned up, and which has low deposit base, you can grow the bank. It is better than a green field institution, where you have to develop everything from the scratch,' he stressed.

To acquire a new banking licence, he explained, takes quite some time as there would be approvals to build each branch, marketing for customers and deposits, and skilled manpower, among others, all of which could be avoided if a bank is bought.

He noted that the process of further strengthening a bank with new capital could take up to between 12 and 18 months to get the right type of investors to take over the institution, beginning with the appointment of experts, due diligence and the bid process to ensure the right calibre of persons emerge.

Ikeazor also  noted that Keystone bank has significantly upgraded it electronics and cashless banking transactions to a world class standard that provide services to its customers outside the banking hall and ensures that the bank's numerous customers enjoy seamless transactions within and outside the country. This he said has endeared the bank to the hearts of big corporate, which now rely on Keystone's robust E-Business platform to transact their businesses.

The Keystone Bank boss listed the various products designed by bank to meet the needs of the lenders teeming customers to include International Trade Products and E-Business products such as paperless form M and forex processing from any location by accessing the Trade Portal on the banks website, Internet banking, “PayDIRECT,  EasyREMIT and an array of e-cards – Naira Credit Card (NCC), MasterCard, VISA and other partner services for merchants.