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Ex-Diamond Bank CEO, Alex Otti floats new bank, ‘Signature Bank’

Ex-Diamond Bank CEO, Alex Otti floats new bank, ‘Signature Bank’
Alex Otti

Dr. Alex Otti, former group managing director/CEO of defunct Diamond Bank Plc and governorship candidate of Labour Party (LP) in Abia State in the 2023 elections, is set to float a new commercial bank, Signature Bank Limited.

We reliably gathered that the new regionally licensed commercial bank will be unveiled this month at its headquarters located at 31B, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja.

The new lender, when commissioned will provide personal, private and business banking services to the south-south, south-east, north-east region of the country, including Abuja.

Aside its Abuja office, insiders said that the new bank is expected to begin operations with five other branches located in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Aba, Sokoto and Kano.

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.

After resigning from the rested Diamond Bank as its head honcho in 2014, Otti returned to active politics in his state, Abia State. His resignation had been greeted with mixed feelings. In particular, the fears in some quarters were that the Abia State-born gentleman was too polished for the murky waters of Nigerian politics.

But he seemed to have thought it out, and resolved to contest for governor of Abia State in 2015 on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. Though, he lost, he has not rested on his oars, rather, he has continued to pursue his political ambition by throwing his hat into the ring again for the number one job of the state, under the Labour Party.

Under Otti’s stewardship, (before Diamond Bank’s debacle began), the lender made a remarkable return to profitability and recorded impressive growth across all performance indicators year-on-year. After writing off toxic risk assets which resulted in the loss of N16 billion in 2011, the bank posted a profit before tax of N28.36 billion in 2012 and N32.5 billion in 2013. The bank also saw its total assets rise from N564.9 billion in February 2011 to N1.18 trillion by December 31, 2012 and N1.52 trillion on December 31, 2013.

Otti also spearheaded the expansion of the defunct Diamond Bank by doubling the full staff count from around 2,000 in 2010 to over 4,000 as at mid-2014, even as he vigorously grew 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).

It is to be noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) classified the defunct Diamond Bank as one of the eight systematically important banks in Nigeria under his watch.

With the entrant of Signature Bank into the Nigerian banking industry, industry watchers are sure of a fresh new scramble for recognition in a terrain filled with already established banks.


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