Business News of Sunday, 6 January 2019
The managers of GN Bank have said they opted to continue their operations as a Savings & Loan institution at the end of the 31 December 2018 deadline given by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) for universal banks in the country to recapitalise to GHS 400 million.
The downgrading of GN Bank to a Savings and Loans firm was announced by the governor of the central bank, Dr Ernest Addison, on Friday, 4 December 2019 at a press conference.
Subsequently, the Head of Corporate Affairs at Groupe Nduom (GN), owners of GN Bank, Frank Owusu-Ofori, said in a statement on Friday that their “doors will remain open for business as usual in January 2019 and beyond”.
He added that they have started the transition process and their immediate objective is to find the liquidity needed to serve the needs of customers.
“This means that as a licensed deposit-taking institution, customer funds remain safe with us. The decision allows us to concentrate on ensuring maximum liquidity to sustain the business, instead of raising funds for additional capital as a universal bank. We operated in the recent past successfully as a Savings and Loans Company for eight years, so, we can assure our customers that with our attention back to managing the business, instead of combing the world for additional capital, we are poised to deliver products and services beyond excellence,” Mr Owusu-Ofori noted.
It is necessary, he added, “For us to also point out that in the process of looking for additional capital, we made a conscious decision not to sell our bank to mostly foreign interests. These investors wanted the retail network we have built, but with the intention to abandon our vision of promoting financial inclusion and serving the needs of ordinary Ghanaians. We have been honest about who we are – a Main Street Bank and not a High Street Bank.
“We formed the company and started looking for a licence in 1997 to create a national bank for all Ghanaians wherever they may live, capable of ensuring financial inclusion and bringing the unbanked into the formal sector. It took the founding shareholder, Coconut Grove Beach Resort nine years and a lot of effort to obtain a licence from the Bank of Ghana on 8 May 2006 to operate as a Savings and Loans Company under the brand name, First National Savings & Loans Company Limited. Coconut Grove was joined by another Ghanaian shareholder, BB Acquisitions. Other shareholders have subsequently invested in the company.
“Our financial institution has two intertwined branches – traditional banking and micro-enterprise business. The power of the two makes us unique and special. It took hard work to be where we are, with 1.2 million customers and 20% of the Ghanaian banking retail outlets in Ghana.
“We invested heavily in opening offices in all the ten regions of Ghana. When we opened our doors, the unbanked population was 80%. Today, it has fallen to 55%. Our continued existence will ensure that the percentage of the population that is unbanked will reduce further,” he added.