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NEW BANKING REGIME: FOREIGN BANKS DON'T NEED NEW LICENCES

By NBF NEWS
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Four banks operating in the country will not need to apply for fresh licences under the holding structure model for the financial sector expected to replace the universal banking model.

The draft guideline for the new banking regime sets N15bn, N25bn and N100bn as capital requirements for banks that want to operate on the regional, national and international scenes respectively.

A top official of the CBN, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday, said four banks would need no fresh licences just as he disclosed that the N100bn maximum capital requirement was not yet a policy.

The CBN had said in a recent circular to banks that it would replace the existing universal banking licence with a new one, whose terms would be restricted to the nature of each bank's specific activities.

The source said all the foreign banks operating in the country would not need licences because they were already local subsidiaries of international banks. The banks are Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Ecobank Nigeria Plc.

According to him, 'The draft guideline is there for debate; it is not yet law and so the targets could be reviewed. Even if N100bn is finally adopted as maximum capital requirement, about five foreign banks are already out of the race for international banking licence, leaving us with 20.

'A few banks that may want to go offshore have also already crossed the N100bn mark. Already, Some Nigerian banks that have subsidiaries abroad, including First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and Zenith Bank Plc have N100bn capital.'

'Those that don't have N100bn and have subsidiaries abroad have ample time to decide on the level at which they want to play in the market.'

The source, however, said there was no need to jostle for an international banking licence since the banks could operate all over the country with less than N100bn, adding that Nigeria was the heart of Africa as a market place.

'If I were a bank under this regime, I would not want to go out because of the ample opportunities at home. Nigeria currently controls about 65 per cent of the West African economy, which leaves a lot of room for expansion,' he noted.

He noted that the CBN was giving the banks enough time to comply, by which time they would have concluded their capital rating exercise.

When contacted, Head, Corporate Affairs, CBN, Mr. Muhammed Abdullahi, said, 'The issue of a N100bn capital base for the proposed international banks is only a draft that has been sent to the banks to give their input, which will then be considered by the CBN before arriving at a final decision.

'Whatever is the final guideline approved by the CBN will be made known at the appropriate time to all Nigerians.'