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Unity Bank emerges best for agric financing

By The Citizen

Unity Bank Plc has emerged the 'Best Bank in Agriculture Financing' in recognition of its strides in developing the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy.

Speaking after he received the award on behalf of the bank at the BusinessDay Annual Banking recently, the bank's Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Henry James Semenitari, declared that it was not a surprise that the Unity Bank won the award this year because it had consistently been at the forefront in the support of agric financing.

This, he stated, is evidenced in the bank's wide range of agricultural products for both small scale and large scale farmers – collectively known as Unity Greens – which cover General agro-allied financing, Industrial as well as Cooperative leasing, support schemes and products.

'Unity Bank is also widely acclaimed as one the most active implementers of federal government multi- billion naira Agriculture Intervention Schemes such as the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES), NIRSAL, Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme and the Agriculture Trust Fund Model.

'With over 150 branches along the Nigerian Agrarian Belt, the Bank has long recognised this positioning as an area in which it can make its impact felt. It would be recalled that the Bank had in 2013 received recognition for its support of the Northern economy.'

Unity Bank Plc had recently opened application list for a rights issue of 38.447 billion ordinary shares, starting the first part of a two-part new capital issue that is expected to inject more than N39 billion into the bank.

The opening of application list followed approvals of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and Central Bank of Nigeria.

Unity Bank plans would be raising N19.22 billion through a rights issue of 38.447 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each to existing shareholders at a price of 50 kobo each. The rights have been pre-allotted to shareholders on the register of the bank as at December 16, 2013 on the basis of one new share for one share held as at the closure date. The rights issue will close in late June.

The bank will also be undertaking a private placement of 40 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at 50 kobo each to bring in additional N20 billion in new equity funds next month.

The net proceeds of the new capital issues would be used for new branch development, upgrade of information and communication technology, human resource development, working capital and products and channel upgrade among others.

Chairman, Unity Bank Plc, Alhaji Lamis Dikko urged shareholders of the bank to pick up their rights noting that the bank's valuation can only get better.

'It is a penny stock and it can only get better.  The bank focus is being reinvented considering the background of where we came from, it is been very challenging from the post consolidation period but at least now we have overcome these issues. The bank is set for turnaround,' Dikko said.