Wednesday, August 1, 2007

New Money Transfer service enters Ghanaian market

A new money transfer service that caters for transfers from the US, enters the market on Wednesday with a package that organisers say is "an affordable way of remitting money to Ghanaians".

Liberty Transfer International, a Chicago-based company, would be the first ever flat fee money transfer service in Ghana, Mr William Adjovu, an official of the company, told the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday.

"Liberty Money Transfer offers senders in the United States an affordable way of remitting money to Ghana by charging a flat fee of just $6.95, irrespective of the amount being sent," he said.

"Liberty Money Transfer is the cheapest way to send money to Ghana from America," he added.

Mr Adjovu said Liberty Transfer International was registered with the US Department of Treasury and Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation as a money transmitter adding that it was fully insured.

He said senders could use any of three ways offered when sending money - going on line, calling toll free US number 1-800-357-5837 or sending a text of the amount and the recipient's mobile number to US number 1-312-731-2294.

Mr Ajovu said the company also sent free SMS alerts to both sender and recipient when the money was sent and picked up.

He said recipients could pick up transfers from Ghana Commercial Bank or Merchant Bank with customers at these banks having their transfers directly deposited into their bank accounts. The company said there were 200 pickup locations throughout Ghana.

"We believe this new, convenient and affordable way to send money to Ghana will offer relief to Ghanaians from expensive charges incurred when remitting money to loved ones."

Oceanic Bank Attributes Cost Efficiency To Prudence

Oceanic Bank International Plc has attributed its cost efficiency to the managerial prudence of its management. The bank’s management in 2006 was lauded for its ability to drastically reduce its operating costs as against what obtains in the industry.

With the bank’s recently released results, it is obvious it is poised to maintain its standing among the most cost efficient banks in the country following its impressive profit before tax for the nine months ended June 30, 2007.

The bank made a pre-tax profit of N16.18 billion on gross earnings of N45.66 billion in the period. This is 53 per cent better than the N10.61 billion it returned on gross earnings of N29.33 billion in the same period last year. During its financial year ended September 30, 2006, Oceanic Bank similarly achieved profit before taxation of N11.61 billion on gross earnings of N44.68 billion. This compared with N7.26 billion pre-tax from N22.30 billion in 2005.

In terms of cost efficiency, the bank has maintained a consistency for keeping its operating costs low, evidently among the best in the industry. Oceanic Bank is said to have the second lowest Cost to Income Ratio among the top seven banks in the country, according to a 2006 analysis.

The third quarter pretax profit just released represent 35 per cent of the bank’s gross earnings. This means that Oceanic Bank earned a profit, though unaudited, of 35 kobo in every N1 of transaction done. The bank thus maintained its trend of cost efficiency from its operations. A cursory review shows that in the corresponding period a year ago, it also earned 35 kobo as the N10.61 billion gross profits constituted 36 per cent of gross earnings.

This is also the trend seen from the audited annual results for the past few years. For the financial year ended September 30, 2006, the profit before tax of N11.61 billion was 25 per cent of the gross earnings of N44.68 billion. This ratio compared with N7.26 billion which was 29 per cent of the gross earnings of N24.30 billion in 2005. The managing director and chief executive of Oceanic Bank, Dr. (Mrs.) Cecilia Ibru, ascribed the bank’s impressive nine months result to the strict adherence to its core values.

The bank’s core values are summarized in an acronym known as TEAMS, which stands for Transparency, Equal Opportunity, Accountability, Merit and Service Excellence.

Speaking in Lagos following the release of the third quarter figures, she particularly singled out the bank’s practice of Transparency and Accountability for the result. She noted that Oceanic Bank has once again justified its reputation as one of the most cost-efficient banks in the country.

Shareholders of Oceanic Bank International Bank Plc surely have good things to look out for in the current financial year as the bank grossed N46 billion in earnings for the third quarter ended on June 30, 2007. This was 55 per cent increase over the N29.4 billion earned in the corresponding period of 2006. While the bank’s gross earnings grew by 55 per cent, its profit before tax (PBT) rose by 53 per cent, from N10.6 billion to N16.2 billion.

In the same vein, the bank’s profit after tax (PAT) rose by 54 per cent to N13.4 billion percent as against the preceding year’s N8.7 billion. The bank had forecast a profit before tax of N18.9 billion for 2007 financial year and a profit after tax of N14.7 billion, during its recently concluded public offer.

The third quarter result has further consolidated Oceanic Bank’s position as a first rate financial institution buoyed by its aggressive business penetration strategy and efficient cost management. With the recently released results, market analysts believed the bank’s vision of becoming the most profitable bank in the country before 2010 is quite on course and evidently promising. The financial analyst lauded the bank’s contribution to the nation’s economic development, while maintaining that Oceanic Bank is capable of surpassing analysts’ forecast in its year-end result.

The bank’s profile has continued to rise both on the local level and the international level. It has recently been rated among the top 1000 banks in the world and has also received positive rating from renowned rating agencies. A very significant strategy of the bank is its determination to further expand its service offerings and revenue rolling out new business offices and initiatives.

Germany Ready For More Business With Nigeria

Regardless of European Union’s stance against Nigeria over its last election, the German government is ready to do more business with the country’s new government, which was inaugurated two months ago.

The EU, although chaired by Germany, had expressed reservations over the conduct of the general elections.

But to show its seriousness, the German Foreign Affairs Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will this week lead an 81 member-delegation, including parliamentarians, to hold talks on cooperation with President Umar Yar’Adua and Foreign Affairs Minister, Ojo Maduekwe.

The minister is expected to arrive Nigeria on July 31 and will hold talks with the new Nigeria’s foreign minister on August 1 while he is expected to meet with President Yar’Adua on August 2.

He is scheduled to leave Nigeria on August 2 for Ghana, which is the second and final leg of his visit to Africa.

Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Abdul Bin Rimdap, who confirmed this in an interview with our correspondent in Berlin at the weekend, noted that issues such as cultural and social dimension would be looked into.

"The visit is a way of showing Nigeria that Germany is willing to continue doing business with the country. Germany is the third largest economy in the world and has put Africa at the centre of its development programme.

" Nigeria was chosen because of the importance Germany attaches to the country and also because of the commitment of the government to continuation of the reform programme in the country," Rimdap noted.

An official of the German Foreign Affairs Ministry, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, however, noted that the visit would also enable the government to extend its "congratulations" to the Nigerian president for his victory during the election.

" Germany did not come out clearly to congratulate your president during the last elections. You know Germany chairs the presidency of the European Union (EU) at that time, and whatever position that was taken by the EU on Nigeria ’s election was that of the organisation," the official added.

Steinmeier’s visit to Nigeria and Ghana will be his second to Africa in less than two months. He was in Libya on June 10 as the Chief Negotiator on the side of Germany in the case of the imprisoned Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor.

The German EU Presidency and the European Commission exerted necessary influence on Libya to release the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor.

The German G-8 Presidency during the recently held meeting of industrialised countries in June in Heiligendamm agreed to scale up partnership with the African continent in the areas of good governance, strengthening the partnership of reform between G-8 and pro-reform African governments, fight against HIV/AIDS, and peace and security.

At a meeting with African representatives, including President Yar’Adua and President John Kufour of Ghana, during the G-8 meeting, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, assured that the G-8 was committed to the promises it made to Africa .

"We are aware of our responsibility and we will honour our commitments. US$60 billion has been pledged over the coming years to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa," she stated.

Germany has earmarked 4.5 billion euros (about N810 billion) for developmental aid this year, with Africa as the main recipient.