SACK: Oceanic Refutes Report, Clarifies Issues

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San Francisco Jan 9, (THEWILL) - The Management of Oceanic Bank International plc has described recent media reports on fresh disengagement of staff as unfounded and a premeditated attempt by people out to derail the consistent progress being recorded by the Bank.

According to the Bank's Group Managing Director/CEO, John Aboh, the Bank had last December concluded the staff rationalization exercise, which was adopted to drive operational efficiency in the organization. Noting that it had become imperative to alert customers and shareholders on sponsored negative reports against the Bank, Aboh assured that Oceanic would remain focused on the task of returning the Bank to profitability.

“I urge our esteemed customers, shareholders, and the entire banking public to disregard such reports. Oceanic Bank is making steady progress with its recovery efforts and the trends before us show promising prospects and enhanced value creation for all stakeholders.”

The Oceanic Bank boss explained that prior to the Bank's staff rationalization exercise, the Bank was expending over N4 billion monthly on salaries and wages to a workforce of over 20,000 people.

“We had to implement the painful process of staff rationalization to streamline the workforce along the line of the current business realities otherwise we will be deploying depositors' funds to sustain the bloated workforce. The vision we have is to grow the business to ensure consistent value creation for our customers and shareholders.”

Oceanic Bank's spokesperson Mr. Lumi Igun called THEWILL on Friday morning to add that the bank sacked only 1900 of its workforce including staff of its subsidiaries in its only rationalization exercise last December. Igun said the reports going around that the bank sacked another batch of its workers are inaccurate.

“Let me explain what has happened here. We reduced our workforce by 1900 in December just before Christmas. Some of the staff affected did not pick up their letters of disengagement before the holiday because they did not expect the exercise, they are just picking them up now.”

He said Bank's management had already implemented an across-the-board salary cut that will further streamline its cost profile and further enhance its drive for operational efficiency.

This strategy was adopted following a meeting in which the bank's executive and senior management unanimously agreed to this unprecedented sacrifice in order to hasten the recovery pace of the Bank.

The details of the salary cut include: 10-15 percent for Junior Staff, 15 – 20 per cent for Senior Management and 22.5 – 35 per cent for Executive Directors and the MD/CEO.

Aboh said the development was a clear demonstration of the commitment of the workforce to the robust recovery plan unveiled by Management, adding that the management places high premium on operational efficiency as a vehicle for building the Bank's capacity for sustainable and consistent profitability. “For us as employees, it is a necessary sacrifice we have made to ensure a better future for our Bank and its numerous customers and shareholders. We have critically examined the cost of running the bank against our sustainable revenue base and we realised that the cost is over bloated. The zeal to return the Bank to winning ways is a shared vision by all the staff and this has been the driving force for the Management,” he said.

The drive for operational efficiency will also see the bank streamline its subsidiaries and branches to enhance its overall competitiveness and profitability. The bank's management following CBN's intervention discovered over 190 branches that were under construction with staff already hired to man such branches.

Aboh said records show that the Bank was making good progress with its quest to return to profitability from the first quarter of 2010. “We have achieved the immediate target of stabilizing the Bank, even as we continue to demonstrate our commitment to best practices. The growing customer confidence is enhancing our business development drive,” he said.

On the Bank's business development drive, he noted that Oceanic was recording consistent growth in liquidity through robust marketing, deposit mobilization, and renewed focus on retail and transaction banking products.

He said: “When we took over, by October 5, the deposit base of this bank was about N430 billion, by November 30, it was about N528 billion and by December 18, it was about N560 billion. We are bringing liquidity to the bank and I think it's a measure of customers' acceptance of our brand. In a bank, liquidity is like blood to the human body. I am very optimistic about the prospects of the Bank in the very near future.”

He added that the Management of the Bank will now embark on targeted staff training aimed at improving the production of the workforce and building capacity for sustained superior performance.

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