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2009-07-11:FirstBank Secures Approval to Operate in China

By Celine Loader
First Bank of Nigeria Plc has secured the approval of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) to open a Representative Office in Beijing, China, following a thorough due diligence process. Keeping with its tradition of “firsts,” FirstBank is the first Nigerian bank to commence operations in the Peoples Republic of China, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, having satisfied the official requirements prescribed by the CBRC, the Chinese financial services regulatory body.
This development provides FirstBank a solid foothold in the Asian region, and the platform to blaze the trail and provide traditional and innovative financial services to the government and people of China, while leveraging the growth fundamentals of the Chinese economy.  In its official response to FirstBank’s application, the CBRC also approved Wen Duanyu’s nomination as Chief Representative of FirstBank’s Office in Beijing.
In his initial comment on the laudable development, Bisi Onasanya, Group Managing Director/CEO of FirstBank said “This milestone is an exciting turning point in our Bank’s history, as FirstBank’s presence in China further accentuates our steady rise as an international financial services icon. FirstBank will make Nigeria and Africa proud as a worthy ambassador to Asia.”
Established 115 years ago in Nigeria, FirstBank’s increasing globalisation has seen it set up a branch in London in 1982, which became FBN Bank (UK) Limited, Nigeria’s first full-fledged subsidiary bank in the United Kingdom in 2002.  Furthermore, FBN Bank (UK) opened a branch in Paris in 2008, driving FirstBank’s financial services to other parts of Europe. FirstBank has registered its presence in South Africa, through FirstBank South Africa Representative Office established in 2004, which is contributing in promoting excellent business relationships among African companies, especially the Nigerian-South African business community.
It could be recalled that FirstBank already has other banking relationships with Chinese institutions including an MOU with Yuemei Group Company Limited, a textile manufacturing firm, with a value of $50 million, a partnership with Shenzhen Energy Investment Co. Limited (Shenzhen Energy Group) in the building of a 3,000 mega watts gas turbine power plant in Nigeria, worth $2.4 billion, as well as an MOU with another Chinese firm, Guangdong Xinguang International China-Africa Investment Limited for a $500 million investment in Ogun State. The Guangdong Xinguang Group’s collaboration with FirstBank would be in the areas of investment banking, project financing, business advisory services and correspondent banking relationship.  FirstBank also has an MOU with China Construction Bank to cover global banking collaboration.
The approval to open FirstBank China Representative Office is not only an important milestone for the Bank, but also signifies a new era for Nigeria–China relations, considering the size of FirstBank and the ever-increasing trade flows between both countries.
Over its multi-generational history, FirstBank has continued to adapt and innovate to meet the different challenges and opportunities presented by different generations of customers, competitors and other stakeholders, assuring not only its longevity but also market leadership. The aspiration of its holistic brand transformation exercise initiated in 2006 is to reposition the financial services icon for sustainability and leadership in the next century and beyond.
 Source: First Bank Media Centre


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