GTB Sierra Leone CEO Talks on Development Drives

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Mr. Ade Adebiyi, CEO and Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank Sierra Leone.

By Amin Kef Sesay

The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Sierra Leone Branch, Mr. Ade Adebiyi, has intimated this medium that the Bank is a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Bank, Nigeria.

Dilating on the humble beginning of Guaranty Trust Bank he revealed how it started with an initial 42 shareholders and an initial capital of $2 million. “The first two of those shareholders was the pioneer Managing Director and the second was the pioneer Deputy Managing Director. One member of the team that started is the current Group Managing Director, Mr. Segun Agbaje,” he further said.

He noted that the idea of Guaranty Trust Bank Nigeria was to create a truly professional organization, kind of like an oasis in a country where things were not being done properly.

The CEO/MD said from the onset, Guaranty Trust Bank Group was set up with the foundation and core values to be based on integrity also disclosing how in 1996, six years after they were listed by introduction on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, subsequently after then, because of the business model of the bank, two prominent business schools—one in the UK here, Cranfield Business School, and the other in the United States, Harvard—did several case studies on Guaranty Trust Bank.

He said between 1990 and 2000, things worked very well. “In 2001, we did our initial public offering and also got our universal banking license. Subsequently, without claiming to really say they have understood Nigeria, they started our regional banking expansion,” he added.

The CEO pointed out that at that juncture they thought they were young and could take risks.  “But even though we are going to do that, we are going to start with a small English speaking country in order to easier  know our mistakes,” he explained saying they decided to settle for The Gambia with a population of  1.2 million population at the time.

According to him the Bank worked very well and subsequently, shortly after, in 2002, they started operations in Sierra Leone to actually take advantage of the economic development in the country.

In 2004, he said they raised additional capital after which they went to Ghana and expanded there.

“We came to UK in 2008. Now, the idea of coming to UK, which was the first subsidiary outside of Africa, was not really to come here to compete with the High Street banks but rather to take advantage of the connectivity between West Africa and the UK. And, so, GTBank (UK) was a mono-branch bank, where they were doing things like trade, correspondent banking and personal banking for the group’s customers that actually commute between Africa and the UK,” he further disclosed.

Mr. Ade Adebiyi said things went pretty well as in 2007 they did their first Euro bond, where they raised $350 million. ‘It was quite successful. Later that year, August 2007, we listed on the London Stock Exchange ,”he also revealed.

He said in 2009, they expanded into Liberia and in 2012 they started with their first francophone country in Cote d’Ivoire. In 2014, subsequently, after completing Anglophone West Africa and one country in Francophone, they started their East African expansion by acquiring a franchise called Fina Bank that had a presence in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

“In 2017, two years ago, we expanded into Tanzania. And so, over the years, that has been the footprint of the group in Africa, with today over 300 offices in Nigeria, Africa, other African countries and in the UK. And I guess the African footprint still continues,” he expressed optimism..

Dilating on the corporate side, the CEO said what they do is that the relationship-management structure is along industry lines. They have a typical structure of telecommunications, aviation, airlines, shipping, and commodities, commercial. He said what happens over time is that a corporate Manager is able to understand the markets deeply because they deal with the same customers in the same industry on a day-to-day basis.

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