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Cablegate: Nigeria's Uba Partners China Development Bank

VZCZCXRO2576
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0752/01 3251504
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211504Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9605
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9357
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1551
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000752

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

PRETORIA FOR TDA DSCHUSTER
COMMERCE FOR KBURRESS
ENERGY FOR PERSON, GAY
TREASURY FOR DPETERS, RHALL, RABDULRAZAK
STATE PASS USTR FOR LISER, AGAMA
STATE PASS TRANSPORTATION FOR KSAMPLE
STATE PASS OPIC FOR ZHAN, MSTUCKART, JEDWARDS
STATE PASS TDA FOR EEBONG
STATE PASS EXIM FOR JRICHTER
STATE PASS USAID FOR NFREEMAN, GBERTOLIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN ECON EINV ETRD PGOV PREL NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA'S UBA PARTNERS CHINA DEVELOPMENT BANK

Sensitive But Unclassified; Handle Accordingly

1. (U) Summary: United Bank for Africa (UBA) is in partnership with
China Development Bank (CDB) to fund Chinese investments in two
trade zones, and in infrastructure and energy projects. UBA, which
believes it currently has 20% of Nigeria's retail banking market,
introduced a phone card that doubles as an ATM cash card, allowing
the bank to begin to provide services to currently un-banked small
entrepreneurs. End summary.

CDB Deal: "Almost Infinite" Capital for Development
--------------------------------------------- -----
2. (SBU) United Bank for Africa, (UBA) on October 31 announced it
had signed a partnership agreement with the China Development Bank
(CDB). UBA Managing Director, Tony Elumelu told the Nigerian press
that the CDB agreement gives UBA "an almost infinite amount of
capital to execute projects". Ike Onyenokwe, UBA's Director of
Strategy, elaborated, telling Econoffs that the agreement is a
strategic move by CDB to support Chinese investments in Nigeria,
especially those already planned for the Lekki and Ogun Free Trade
Zones (FTZ). Onyenokwe noted that over twenty Chinese companies are
planning to establish an industrial estate in the Lekki FTZ; these
companies are likely to take off soon now that CDB has entered the
market, he said. (Comment: The Lekki and the Ogun State FTZs, for
which Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between the governments of
Nigeria and China were signed in March and July respectively, had
seen little activity until recently. Both FTZs broke ground in
early November. End Comment.) UBA expects trade between the China
and Africa to grow, which fits with UBA's plan to expand to support
trade through its subsidiaries in Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda. UBA
will open two representative offices in China to support Nigerian
companies there.
3. (U) The partnership will also allow the two banks to co-finance
infrastructure and energy projects in oil and gas, power,
telecommunications, roads and railways, solid minerals and
agriculture. UBA's Corporate Banking and Global Markets divisions
will lead the energy and infrastructure projects.
UBA: 20 Percent of Banking Market
---------------------------------

4. (SBU) Suzanne Iroche, Executive Director UBA Global Bank, said
the bank's consolidated balance sheet size is over 1.5 trillion
naira (USD 11.5 billion). UBA controls 20% of the Nigerian retail
banking market with over 600 branches. UBA expanded its customer
base and branch network by acquiring, pursuant to the Central Bank
of Nigeria's purchase and assumption arrangement, four banks which
had been unable to increase their capital to the requisite 25
billion naira (USD 192 million) under the recent recapitalization
exercise. UBA took over the fixed assets and private sector deposit
liabilities of the defunct banks, and was able to return deposits to
customers whose monies had been trapped since January 2006. Iroche
said most such customers were persuaded by UBA to open UBA accounts;
only a few withdrew their funds. UBA's risks in taking over the
banks were mitigated by promissory notes from the government.

UBA Increases Services to Middle Income Customers
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (U) Funmi Omitowoju, Chief Executive, UBA Prestige Bank (UBAPB)
said Prestige Bank was established to effectively service middle
income customers. Banking facilities targeted specifically at this
segment of the market are limited, so UBAPB will expand its mortgage
finance and consumer lending, she said.

Bank Pioneers Innovative Microfinance Card
------------------------------------------

6. (U) UBA is also starting Microfinance Bank to empower the average
Nigerian entrepreneur. Omitowoju said the bank introduced the UBA
X-Change card to create banking records for people in the informal
sector who currently do little or no banking. The X-Change card is a
co-branded UBA/MTN (Nigeria's top telephone company with over 40% of
the market) ATM card and telephone air-time top-up card combined.
The card is available to UBA and MTN customers, which gives UBA

LAGOS 00000752 002 OF 002


access to non-UBA MTN subscribers while providing MTN access to
non-MTN UBA customers. Omitowoju, who moved from MTN to UBA to
create the new card, said UBA anticipates the card will create a
critical database for UBA's new microfinance bank.

UBA Services Niger Delta
------------------------

7. (U) On its operations in the Niger Delta, Ike Onyenokwe, said the
bank has numerous branches in the region. It provides advisory
services to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on the
optimal use of its funds, particularly with respect to
infrastructure development.

8. (U) This cable has been coordinated with Embassy Abuja.

Hutchinson

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