UBA targets growth,continuity, appoints new chairman

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The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, a pan-African financial services group, has appointed Joe Keshi as chairman of its board of directors in what experts say is targeted at growth and continuity.

Keshi, a former Nigerian envoy, brings a remarkable international clout to the table and will be an added bonus to the bank.

Nigerian companies such as UBA are increasingly becoming more global in outlook and quickening their presence in sub-Saharan Africa, adapting to technological changes and global best practices, especially in corporate governance.

Keshi was appointed to the board of UBA in 2010 and was made vice chairman on January 1, 2011. He has over 35 years of working experience at the highest levels of government as a career diplomat, serving as permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, permanent secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, and in the presidency.

He has also served as Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Nigeria in The Hague, Netherlands, and consul-general of Nigeria, Atlanta, Georgia.

“I am touched that my fellow board members have asked me to chair the board. We will sustain the strong governance and risk management structures in place and maintain the momentum of our pan-African growth strategy,” said Keshi on his appointment.

Phillips Oduoza, UBA’s chief executive, who spoke on behalf of the executive management, said, “We are looking forward to working with the new chairman and vice chairman, even as we will miss the wise counsel and insights of Chief Ogbue. We are privileged to have the combined experience of Ambassador Keshi and Okwechime, one of the four distinguished women on our board.”

Keshi’s appointment follows the retirement of Israel Ogbue, a member of the UBA board since 2005 and chairman since January 1, 2011.

“It has been a pleasure serving the bank. I have worked with a group of men and women who have been responsible for forging an extraordinary transformation in Nigerian and African banking. Keshi is an admirable choice to lead the bank in its next growth phase,” said Ogbue.

UBA is a leading pan-African financial services group with presence in 19 African countries, New York, London and Paris. Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, the group provides banking services to diverse customer groups across Africa.

The board also appointed Rose Ada Okwechime as vice chairman. Okwechime is the managing director of Abbey Building Society Plc and has played a leading role in financial services for over 20 years, including time spent with the Bank of England. Both appointments are effective November 21, 2013.

UBA this month reported third-quarter 2013 results showing gross revenues of N188 billion, representing a 12.5 percent increase from the N167.1 billion recorded in the same period of last year.

Pre-tax profits rose to N43.4 billion compared with N42.24 billion in the earlier period, an increase of 2.8 percent. UBA stock has one-year returns of 79.46 per cent, outperforming the NSE all share index which has returned 52.58 per cent in the past year.

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