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By NBF News
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Keystone Bank Limited said it will leverage on the opportunities in the retail and consumer banking segment to grow its market share to compete effectively and ensure it returns to profitability in 2012.

The bank also said it is seeking assistance from the International Finance Corporation, IFC, in the area of trade facilities and deepen its business focus in Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs.

According to a statement by the bank, this is part of a strategy to grow the bank within the next two years.

Mr. Oti Ikomi, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Keystone Bank, said the bank, in a recently held retreat for its key officials, developed plans that would cover specific areas where it intends to focus on in ensuring that it returns to profitability as well as grow its market share.

He added: 'At the session, the entire Board, executives and management team of Keystone Bank were present. So you have the top echelon of the bank, including our directors meeting to strategise and determine the way forward, through a collective process. We also have external facilitators who have given us an insight into the macro economy and other issues.

'We have consultants from Roland Berger- a leading German Consulting firm; from KPMG and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). We also have representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Managing Director and chief executive of the Islamic Banking Institute. So we have all these people working with us.

'In doing this, we are looking at key areas, where we can give improved financial services to Nigerians. We are looking at retail and consumer banking.

'Keystone Bank intends to be very dominant in the retail banking space and we intend to add value to the life of consumers.

'We are very keen on developing our agricultural business. We are also looking at value-chain banking -which is the link between corporate banking, public sector and the suppliers, the distributors and the employees. So, we have very specific focus areas.'

Ikomi emphasised that the commercial bank also intends to deepen its savings products, hinting that the bank plans to use Retail Banking and customer service as a differentiator among its peers. He expressed the decision of his team to position the bank among the top five in the industry in the next four years.

Commenting on the achievement of his team since they were appointed, he said: 'The first major milestone was to stabilise the company. The Keystone Bank brand is now well recognized and we have also improved our customer delivery which has led to enhanced customer loyalty.

'We are beginning to see increased business momentum in the last two months. We have seen growth in our assets as well as our deposit liabilities, which is very important. We are not quite near we want to be, but we are in the right direction. We have also fully established our governance framework.

'We have a well established governance board and all our Board committees have been constituted and are functioning effectively. So, we have a very functional organisation and we are working along best practices. And importantly, we are now exploring partnership with international organisations like the IFC.'