By Lucky Fiakpa
Following the granting of its application for a shop in Beijing by the China Banking Regulatory Commission the bank now seems set to service its Chinese clients better and also leverage on the growth fundamentals of the Chinese economy, Lucky Fiakpa writes
Nigerian banks expansion to the AsianÂ Â continent may have started. FirstÂ Bank and Oceanic are the two Nigerian financial institutions to have started operations in China and more are likely to follow.
A statement from Oceanic Bank last week said the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has approved its application for a representative office in Beijing. The bankâ€™s expansion to the Asian continent, the statement further said, â€œwas in line with the Oceanic Bankâ€™s desire to grow its business globallyâ€.|
An apparently excited Chief Executive of Oceanic Bank International Plc, Dr. (Mrs.) Cecilia Ibru, said the move to have a representative office in China â€œwas borne out of the fact that the bank wants to service its Chinese clients better and also leverage on the growth fundamentals of the Chinese economyâ€. Chinaâ€™s economy is one of fastest growing in the world.
Nigerian-Chinese relations are huge, strategic and growing exponentially. The two countries are the most populous in Africa and Asia respectively and share similar though not identical historical neo-colonial experiences. Nigeria has Africaâ€™s and one of the worldâ€™s largest hydrocarbon deposits and Chinaâ€™s economy is the fastest growing in the world. Currently, China requires Nigeriaâ€™s oil to fuel its economic expansion while Nigeria seeks Chinese expertise, finance, technology and industrial goods as well as market for its burgeoning non-oil export.
With a population figure of nearly 1.5 billion people, the Chinese market is an exporterâ€™s dream. It is a relationship that suits the strategic interests of both countries.
Since May 1999 after Nigeria returned to constitutional democracy, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, visited China twice, in 2001 and 2005 with his Chinese counterpart reciprocating both visits. Many high level visits have taken place between Ministers and top officials of both nations.
Volume of Trade
The volume of trade between Nigeria and China increased from $178 million in 1996 to $1.144 billion in December 2001.
China and Nigeria have signed a number of agreements on trade, economic and technical cooperation, scientific and technological cooperation, as well as an agreement on investment protection. The two countries set up a joint economic and trade commission.
The trade volume between the two countries in 2003 reached $1.86 billion, representing a 59 per cent growth. During the first four months of 2004, it grew further by 17.6 per cent to $609 million, with Nigeriaâ€™s export to China registering a growth of 330 per cent. Chinaâ€™s main exports to Nigeria are light industrial, mechanical and electrical products. Chinaâ€™s mainly imports from Nigeria are petroleum, timber and cotton.
China is now one of Nigeriaâ€™s top ten trading partners with Chinese businessmen showing increasing interests in investing in Nigeria.
China has set up over 30 solely owned companies or joint ventures in Nigeria actively involved in the construction, oil and gas, technology, service and education sectors of the Nigerian economy. Among projects already undertaken or still in progress include the rehabilitation of Nigerian railway, the sportsmen hostel with the Abuja Sports Complex and the construction of the head quarters of the Nigerian Communications Commission.
The former President also agreed to sell China 50,000 barrels per day (BPD) of crude oil. China has also signed contracts worth over N4 billion with Nigeria on a concessional basis to explore at least four oil blocks in the country and repair the Kaduna Refinery.
Chinaâ€™s investments in the oil sector will result in the building of a power generation station that would add some substantial megawatts of electricity to Nigeriaâ€™s power sector.
The entry of Oceanic Bank into China has been lauded by notable businessmen in the country. Peter Hunt, an economist and trade analyst commended the bankâ€™s management for this accomplishment. He said Oceanic bankâ€™s presence in China will ease banking operations between Nigeriaâ€™s growing business community and their Chinese counterpart. In addition, the patronage for made-in-China products will soar, as the window for banking transaction is now made easy.
The development, according to Dr. Frank Mba, an international relations expert will further expand business opportunities for the two countries and also boost trade effectively. â€œThis will further deepen the existing relationships, and open up the market for new opportunities,â€ he said
Chief Executive of Oceanic Bank International said the decision of the bank to open a representative office in China and also have subsidiaries in other West African countries and Europe is to enable the bank track its numerous customers and make banking more convenient and stress-free for them.
The major attraction for the Chinese investors, according to Ibru is the bankâ€™s passion and huge investment in the area of project financing, infrastructure development and robust retail products and services.
She assured that the bank would differentiate itself with its unique service delivery, which the bank is known for.
With more branches and an upgrade of its Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the bank is among the very few with impeccable service delivery to customers.
The bankâ€™s success and remarkable performance are attributed to its managementâ€™s focused strategy, sound financials and continuous strive for excellence. For these, the bank is also among the few that have consistently been rated very highly by both local and international rating agencies.
The bankâ€™s recognition of the importance of having an enduring and guiding values, has brought about greater efficiency on the part of the staff and profitability for the bank.
The culture, entrenched in TEAMS, is characterized by an indomitable will to persevere and prosper in one of the worldâ€™s most competitive industries- banking.
The message of TEAMS basically is that Oceanic Bank would continue to be very transparent in all its dealings as always, give equal opportunity to all and sundry and remain accountable to both regulators and shareholders.
These values are hinged on trust, which allows space and tolerance both within the hierarchy and towards the outside world.
Oceanic Bank is focused on the following sectors; Oil & Gas, Real Estate, Manufacturing, Investment management, Public Sector, Retail Banking, Corporate Finance and Agriculture.