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Diamond Bank outsmarts collapse as it downgrades self to national bank

Embattled Diamond Bank Plc, has relied on the recent sale of its London international branch to seek delisting by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), from an international bank to a national bank with immediate effect.
The apex bank had already granted the switch in operational status and licence. The move follows Diamond Bank’s decision to sell its international operations, which included the disposal of its West African Subsidiary in 2017 and Diamond Bank UK, the sale of which is in its final stages. With this approval, the bank will cease to operate as an international bank. Diamond Bank at the weekend indicated that the re-licensing as a national bank supports its objective of streamlining its operations to focus resources on the significant opportunities in the Nigerian retail banking market, and economy as a whole.
Though the approval is, however, subject to the conclusion of the sale of Diamond Bank United Kingdom which analysts say is becoming endless, observers say the change in operational licence may be the saving grace of the bank as the change to national bank status also enables the bank to maintain a lower minimum capital requirement of 10 per cent as against 15 per cent required for international banks.
Besides, experts agree that the development clearly creates room for the bank to deploy more capital for stronger growth in the quarters ahead through additional investment in technology platforms, customer acquisition and expansion of loans to the critical sectors of the economy.
Recent Fitch Ratings statistics on the bank had placed the bank on a tight corner in terms of solvency ratio.
This is coming weeks after the bank denied moves by Tier-I financial institution, Access Bank to acquire it after it allegedly asked for a N150bn lifeline.