How NOVA Merchant Bank stays profitable despite COVID-19 — CEO Nath Ude

Nath Ude

Managing director/chief executive officer of NOVA Merchant Bank Nath Ude says the bank is focused on identifying infrastructural gaps which it can fund both to create impact and increase profitability.

Mr Ude stated this in a recent interview on CNBC Africa.

Fitch Ratings had earlier said that profitability for Nigerian banks is expected to improve in the second half of the year as business volumes pick up in the stronger growth environment.

Asked how the bank intends to drive profitability, Ude said the bank intends to bridge a huge gap especially on infrastructure, stating that merchant banking is a marathon, not a sprint.

According to him, the bank identifies a gap which exists in the economy and tries to fund it to reduce the level of importation of goods to Nigeria.

“We identify infrastructural gaps which we need to fund. These are areas that are long-term in nature even in the manufacturing industry. This is a huge opportunity for us as a nation and as a merchant bank to step into the conversation of becoming a huge partner in terms of bridging infrastructural gap,” he said.

Ude said he would rather focus on the impact the bank is making in the economy than on profitability which is equally good.

Despite the effects of COVID-19, NOVA Merchant Bank declared a profit after tax of N3.49bn in 2020 compared to N1.65bn in 2019 which represents a 112% increase.

Speaking on the effects of COVID-19 to the business world, Ude said money and business opportunities shrank which in turn affected bankable funds. He said it also cut down the opportunities therein that the bank as an institution could support.

Ude, however, expressed optimism that with COVID-19 vaccines in place business would get back to shape.

Ude replaced Anya Duroha last October as NOVA Merchant Bank MD/CEO. He started his banking career over 28 years ago with Citibank. He has a BSc in Finance, Masters in Business Administration, numerous professional qualifications and attended various leadership programs at globally renowned institutions.