Nigeria’s entrepreneurial spirit addictive, says Stanbic IBTC boss

Chris Newson, CEO of Stanbic IBTC Bank says the Nigerian people’s entrepreneurial spirit and energy are “incredibly addictive and powerful”.

Chris Newson

Chris Newson

“The energy and passion that exists in Nigeria is something very unique,” he told CNBC Africa in a recent interview.

“I think . . . if it [Nigeria] can only harness that energy and that passion, I think the opportunities are enormous,” Newson added.

Stanbic IBTC was first established in 2007 when South Africa’s Standard Bank Group merged its Nigerian operations with that of IBTC Chartered Bank PLC.

Commenting on the ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s banking sector, Newson said he believes it is a positive exercise. “Ultimately economic growth is dependent on having sound financial systems.”

In 2009, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) commissioned a special audit of the banking sector, which saw nine of the country’s 24 banks declared ‘unhealthy’ due to liquidity, asset and capital adequacy concerns and poor corporate governance practices. After it bailed out the troubled lenders, the CBN introduced various reforms aimed at boosting stability of the sector. The Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), or a ‘bad bank’, was also created to purchase non-performing loans from the banking sector.

Newson added that Stanbic IBTC, which was identified as a healthy bank, tried to gain some market share while the troubled banks where dealing with their internal affairs. “We have been trying to grow aggressively at a time when I think others, in some instances, have been a bit more internally focused.”