On 26 July 2007, Guaranty Trust Bank became the first African bank to be listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
An Age of International Significance
This event, which made it possible for the bank’s shares to be traded at the United Kingdom’s premier bourse, thrust the Nigerian banking sector into the global limelight. For many observers at the time, it was a bold announcement by one of the country’s commercial giants that the industry was stepping into an age of international significance.
GT Bank’s listing at the LSE came on the heels of the bank’s successful placement of an Eurobond at the international markets. The Initial Public Offering (IPO) was oversubscribed, raising about $500 million from international investors and $250 million from institutional investors within Nigeria. That giant stride forward was to be followed by the more widely reported novelty of establishing a presence at the London Stock Exchange, one of the truly global stock exchanges on the globe.
In The Beginning
Founded in 1988 by a group of young Nigerians, GT Bank grew steadily through the 1990s, with its shares becoming publicly traded by 1996. It’s recognized as one of the country’s truly innovative financial institutions; it introduced online and SMS banking and naira denominated credit cards, paving the way for other banks to adopt these modern banking mediums.
After the listing on the LSE, GT Bank was licensed by the UK’s Financial Services Authority (in 2008) to operate within the UK. GT Bank were soon followed by a number of other Nigerian commercial banks which set up functional branches there. Apart from getting the nod to have its shares traded at the London exchange, GT Bank also listed at the Deutsche Burse in Frankfurt, Germany.
Extending its tentacles beyond the shores of Nigeria was a daring move to make, but GT Bank did this at a time in which the country’s business sector was growing in confidence. A decade after emerging from military rule, the general economic outlook was optimistic and opportunities for progress seemed almost endless. Perhaps there’s been a lowering of expectations in recent times, partly because of the country’s recent economic recession.
A Springboard for the future
Nonetheless, there’s a foundation that has been built, one which Nigeria can utilize as a springboard to launch into a bullish future. GT Bank’s moves in 2007, like other significant victories of indigenous companies in that period, have made it possible for local entrepreneurs to have dreams unfettered by time and location.
Feature image photo credit: techrammer.com