A new commercial bank, Signature Bank Limited, will be launched this month at its headquarters at 31B, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja. Dr. Alex Otti, a former group managing director/CEO of the defunct Diamond Bank Plc and a candidate for governor of Abia State on the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 elections, is planning to float the new commercial bank.
When it is officially launched, the new lender will offer personal, private, and business banking services to Abuja and the rest of the country’s south, southeast, and northeast.
The new bank will launch operations with five more branches in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Aba, Sokoto, and Kano in addition to its Abuja office.
Otti is said to have poached a former senior banker in Zenith Bank Plc, Nonye Ayeni and another former senior official with Fidelity Bank Plc, Frank Anumele to lead the new bank.
While Ayeni, an experienced executive with hands-on experience of over 27 years in a variety of roles in the financial industry will oversee the bank as its managing director/CEO, Anumele, a former acting directorate head, South Bank with Fidelity Bank will act as its executive director.
Otti returned to active politics in his home state of Abia State in 2014 after stepping down as CEO of the resting Diamond Bank. Mixed emotions have been expressed in response to his resignation. Particularly, there were concerns that the Abia State-born guy was too polished for the complicated Nigerian political system. However, he seems to have given it some thought and decided to run for governor of Abia State in 2015 under the banner of the APGA. Even though he was defeated, he did not give up; instead, he continued to pursue his political aspirations by reentering the race for the Labour Party’s top state position.
Before Diamond Bank’s scandal, under Otti’s leadership, the institution achieved a stunning return to profitability and had exceptional year-over-year growth across all performance parameters. After losing N16 billion in 2011 due to the write-off of toxic risk assets, the bank reported a profit before tax of N28.36 billion in 2012 and N32.5 billion in 2013. Additionally, the bank’s total assets increased, from N564.9 billion in February 2011 to N1.18 trillion at the end of 2012 and N1.52 trillion at the end of 2013.
Otti also led the growth of the now-defunct Diamond Bank, increasing its total personnel from about 2,000 in 2010 to over 4,000 as of mid-2014 while also aggressively expanding the bank’s footprints from a network of 210 branches in 2011 to over 265 branches three years later. It was also under his watch that the bank established an international subsidiary in the United Kingdom, in addition to expansion in Francophone West Africa (Senegal, Togo, and Ivory Coast).
The defunct Diamond Bank was listed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as one of the eight structurally important banks in Nigeria under his supervision.
Observers of the Nigerian banking sector should expect a fresh new race for recognition in a field crowded with existing banks as a result of the entry of Signature Bank.