By PETER EGWUATU
Skye Bank Plc has indicated that it would drive top-line performance and profitability by expanding support for growth sectors of the Nigerian economy such as agriculture while minimizing costs through low-cost deposits.
The Bank cited the Imo Hill Farm as a case study of what the bank has been doing in recent times to ease access to finance to farmers and support them all through to meet the peculiarities of their operations.
Recent reports have shown considerable lending to customers, in spite of the general lackluster lending situation in the banking industry. Audited report and accounts of Skye Bank for the year ended December 31, 2011 showed that total assets rose from N705.86 billion in 2010 to N927.10 billion. Loans and advances to customers increased from N385.6 billion to N490.7 billion.
The third quarter report for 2012 indicated that loans and advances has risen to N537.45 billion just as total assets crossed the trillion Naira mark to N1.09 trillion by September 2012. Shareholders’ funds increased to N120.55 billion.
Executive Director, Corporate and Investment Banking, Skye Bank Plc, Mr. Timothy Oguntayo, said the bank would focus on growing businesses that would develop into stable long-term banking relationships.
According to him, Skye Bank is increasing its financial supports for agriculture with the establishment of a suite of customer-centric agricultural products and services aimed at not only providing finance but also other major success factors such as financial management services, advisory services, guarantees, information services, local and international liaison and other products and services that may be specially needed to enhance the success of the farmer.
He said that the extensive agriculture support desk of the bank reinforced Skye Bank’s long-standing role as a key player in agricultural project financing with its project financing portfolio in the agricultural sector covering the entire nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
As an indication of the bank’s extensive support to farmers, Oguntayo cited the Imo Hill Farm as a case study of what the bank has been doing in recent times to ease access to finance to farmers and support them all through to meet the peculiarities of their operations.
The Imo Hill Farm is an integrated farm project in the South Western part of the Nigeria which covers poultry, piggery, feed mill and meat processing. The farm has engaged MP Farms, a German agric firm known as one of leading names in Europe, as its technical partners.
MP Farms would help to oversee the management of the whole farm, with experienced managers in poultry and piggery management already hired to manage each division. The processing unit is to be run by top class professionals from Germany with over 20 years experience in meat processing and food technology.
With support from Skye Bank, the Imo Hill Farm promises to be a case study in agricultural innovation and livestock development in sub- Saharan Africa.
Oguntayo noted that Skye Bank has through its branch network strategically located across the country, played and still plays a catalyst’s role in the growth and development of its clients’ businesses and projects.
According to him, Skye Bank has been a major partner in the efforts by the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to bring back the glorious year of agriculture. The bank has participated actively in the CBN’s Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme and the N200 billion Agricultural Fund for the purpose of helping commercial farmers to boost large-scale farming.
He pointed out that with Skye Bank’s strong balance sheet and amenable lending rate, farmers would have adequate access to finance to upscale their capacities and enhance their returns.
He said Skye Bank realised the crucial role agriculture plays in the life of the nation, especially as the Federal Government pursues a policy of economic diversification.