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Ruby Jubilee: Interview With Michael Orimobi, Global Chairman, Tokunbo Orimobi Legal Group

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Michael Orimobi, is the Global Chairman and Managing Partner of the Nigerian office of Tokunbo Orimobi Legal Group, a global law firm listed with the International Financial Law Review (IFLR1000) as one of the world’s leading financial law firms and has the status of a “Recommended Firm” with the IFLR1000 with presence in Africa, Europe and America. In this e-Interview, Michael speaks with Alaba Ayinuola, on the firm’s 40th Anniversary, running a global law firm, accomplishments, diversity and inclusion, predictions for 2019 amongst others . Excerpts.

 

“I am extremely grateful that all our plans to be Nigeria’s first international legal practice are unfolding.”

 

Q: Tell us about the history and heritage of Tokunbo Orimobi Legal Group, and how the firm has evolved? 

A: Tokunbo Orimobi was established on January 12, 1979. The firm will be 40 years this week. From a small boutique law firm in Mainland Lagos founded by my late father – Mr. Tokunbo Orimobi – in 1979, the firm has grown into a full service commercial law firm with 8 offices in 5 countries today. Our total staff strength as at today is circa 50 persons globally.

 

Q: Few days from now, your firm will be celebrating her 40th Anniversary. How do you feel and what thoughts and emotions come to mind? 

A: It is not very often you see any business survive four decades. God has been very faithful and we thank God for His mercies and grace. It has been an interesting and exciting journey for the firm. We had a vision and we stuck to that vision. I am extremely grateful that all our plans to be Nigeria’s first international legal practice are unfolding. I am happy, elated, ecstatic and proud of what we have achieved as a law firm.

 

Q: With offices in Africa, Europe, and America, what are some of the challenges in running a global business, and how are you leveraging opportunities? 

A: Growth and expansion are very good and exciting concepts but they need to be managed wisely. Ambition coupled with Wisdom leads to Sustainable Growth and Development. If one of these traits is present and the other absent, then you might have a problem. One of the major challenges of running a global business is that you have liabilities in multiple currencies thus; the movements in currencies become quite important to your cash flow. Also, having a global business means you are having to deal with the laws, rules and regulations of different jurisdictions. With offices in five countries, we are gradually becoming a global one-stop shop for bespoke legal advisory services. Clients have started engaging us for multi-jurisdictional retainers and for solutions to their legal problems in multiple countries.

 

Q: What are the biggest accomplishments since inception in 1979?

A: We became Nigeria’s first international legal practice with offices in Abuja, Ibadan, Lagos, London, New York, Port Harcourt, Port Louis and Pretoria. We grew in size with circa 30 people in Nigeria and circa 50 people globally. We have made a profit as a business every year since inception with a growth of at least 10% in gross income annually. Quality clientele has increased over the last few years with over 200 active clients globally.

 

Q: Where does your firm stand regarding diversity and inclusion, specifically female partners? 

A: We are committed as a business to diversity, equality and parity. As at today, I believe we have more female employees and most of our heads of departments are female. They are very committed and less distracted with the vicissitudes of life than their male counterparts. We have had a female partner in the firm in the past and currently have a female partner in our Mauritius Office. I look forward to having more female partners in our offices globally and even as members of the executives in our Global Executive Committee.

 

Q: What is the future for your firm and in what ways are you expecting growth? 

A: We are constantly expanding and growing and we look forward to having 10 offices by the end of 2019. Our plan is to be a global one-stop shop for our clients. When you come to us, you have access to our multiple offices, our partners and other fee earners globally. “Global” is the new currency of law practice and we are happy to be the mastermind of this new style of legal practice in Nigeria. We have also set up a foundation with which we would run our various CSR projects. We have benefited a lot from the society and we are definitely giving back in full scale. I intend to transition from the law firm and run the foundation full time in a few years from now.

 

Q: Tell us your leadership style and the best piece of leadership advice you have received? 

A: Tokunbo Orimobi is a knowledge bank. You come in, you learn and you are free to use the knowledge in whatever manner you want to use it. I love to train my staff, expand their legal knowledge and make them complete entrepreneurs. Our lawyers get exposed to administrative matters like business development, branding, budget, finance etc. This is the way I run the business. If you are open minded, you come in as a greenhorn and if you decide to leave the firm, you leave as an full-fledged entrepreneur. We might not be the wealthiest law firm in town, but we are certainly one of the smartest business lawyers in town.

Q: How do you feel as an African Entrepreneur?

A: Exciting times ahead for Africa. Africa is already becoming the toast of global investors. Africa is a territory of high risks and high rewards. I love taking calculated risks hence my penchant for making Africa the launchpad for all my businesses. Over the years, I have transitioned from being a commercial lawyer to being an investor with interests in various sectors of the African economy – banking, financial services, manufacturing, agriculture, commodities etc. I also sit on the Board of a decent number of African and Global businesses. This is why I love being a lawyer, it is a veritable spring board to do absolutely anything legal and beneficial. I started my career as an investment banker and this has helped a lot in transitioning me into an emerging face of Corporate Nigeria.

 

Q: What are your predictions for 2019?

A: As a capital markets and finance lawyer in Nigeria, I will focus my answer on the fiscal and economic matters.

Fiscal policy should loosen up in Q1 2019 due to scheduled elections in Nigeria; possibly another round of devaluation also in 2019. Due to increased spending from elections, there would be inflation which would increase the yield on bonds and thus bond prices would fall.

Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and Services sectors should drive growth in 2019 as we expect some increase in disposable income and consumer spending.

Most likely, investors would be in a holding pattern trying to see what happens with the scheduled elections in Nigeria. We are hoping that the government focuses on the economy this time around rather than on only corruption. We have a massive budget we need to fund and it is time to think out of the box.

For investors with “long-term money” this is the time to raid the equities market. Most stocks are trading below book value and stock fundamentals remain resilient.

Visit Tokunbo Orimobi Legal Group 

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Africa CEO Forum: Sahara Group Links Success Of Integrated Trade To Infrastructure Development

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Kigali, Rwanda – March 26, 2019: Sustained infrastructure development is required across Africa to boost the prospects of integrated trade on the continent, Sahara Group has stated, as business leaders gather in Kigali, Rwanda for the 7th edition of the Africa CEO Forum.

Sahara Group’s Director for Governance and Sustainability, Pearl Uzokwe said the energy conglomerate would make a strong case for multi-stakeholder partnerships to shore up infrastructure development as “this is one of the most critical enabling factors required to achieve the ambitious ideals of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).”

Uzokwe noted that the disparity in landscape composition across the continent is one of the most daunting barriers to economic development.

According to her, “There’s no doubt that infrastructure development should be accorded a prominent position on the agenda for the continent’s CEOs. The non-uniformity of Africa’s landscape confers some measure of advantage on countries with coastal lines as against nations that are landlocked. How to navigate this and other challenges to facilitate an integrated trade scenario remains a critical issue. The business community must be prepared to articulate a collaborative position that will address the achievement of the estimated $170 billion infrastructure funding gap in Africa,” she stated.

Scheduled to attend several meetings to push this position, Uzokwe will also join the AFRICA CEO’s Women in Business Initiative workshop dedicated to “Drafting a gender diversity charter to reach equality in the workplace”.

She said all stakeholders billed to attend the meeting are confident that the charter would drive specific actions geared towards ensuring there is adequate representation of approximately half the world’s population while becoming a catalyst for increasing female representation and retention at various levels of organizational hierarchies.

Uzokwe added that she was hopeful that the charter would also inspire more interventions to drive gender equality and more access to education for girls and women in Africa. “We are intentional about women empowerment and gender parity at Sahara Group and will continue to lead conversations and collaborations in this regard.  Our support for women goes beyond just our employees as over two million people have benefitted from Sahara Foundation’s projects, with women and girls accounting for over 50% of the beneficiaries. Some of the initiatives include eye care programmes, scholarships, literacy development programmes, career guidance programmes and water & sanitation programmes and will continually look for ways to encourage sustainable growth and development in this regard”.

– SAHARA GROUP

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Economy

Swiss foreign direct investment in Egypt records $1.6B

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CAIRO – 25 March 2019: The Swiss foreign direct investment in Egypt reached $1.6 billion, marking an increase of $400 million during the last two years, according to Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr.

Nasr added that the Swiss investments take place in the fields of industry, energy, pharmaceuticals, financial services and food.

The minister also referred to the cooperation between Egypt and Switzerland in implementing development projects at an amount of CHF 330 million (LE 5.7 billion), and in supporting new projects which focus on economic sustainable growth and creating job opportunities through the cooperation strategy until2020 at CHF 86 million (LE 1.5 billion).

She elaborated that Egypt is not only the gate of Switzerland to Africa but also to the Middle East, expressing Egypt’s aspiration to cooperate with Switzerland in Africa, in light of Egypt’s Presidency of the African Union during the current year.

This came during the celebration of 110 years of economic and trade relationships between Egypt and Switzerland, in the presence of Egypt’s minister of investment and Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who is currently visiting Egypt and Swiss Ambassador to Egypt Paul Garnier.

For his part, Cassis pointed out to the importance of enhancing the economic relations and increasing mutual investments and projects between both countries, affirming that Egypt is the gate of Swiss investments to African markets.

He also referred to the cooperation between both countries in the fields of education, industry and transportation, stressing his country’s keenness on the human element especially in the education field.

Cassis noted that this event comes in conjunction with the celebration of 110 years of Egyptian-Swiss economic relationships.

– EGYPT TODAY

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Banking / Insurance

GTBank Dominates CBN E-Payments Awards, Wins 8 out of 12 Banking Honours

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Lagos, Nigeria – March 25th, 2019: Guaranty Trust Bank plc continued its dominance of Nigeria’s most qualitative digital financial service awards for the fourth year in a row, winning eight of the twelve honours available to Banks in the 2019 edition of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Electronic Payment Incentive Scheme (EPIS) Efficiency Awards. The foremost African financial institution, renowned for its innovative products and services, won awards for efficiency and excellent service delivery in virtually every E-payment channel.

The CBN EPIS Efficiency Awards is organized to celebrate financial institutions, merchants and other stakeholders at the forefront of driving electronic payment in Nigeria. Now in its fourth year, the awards are based on objective analysis of all E-payments data collated by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) over a full calendar year. With eight awards, GTBank took home two more honours than the six awards the Bank won the previous year and the highest number of awards presented to financial institutions, Fin-techs, merchants and other stakeholders in the Electronic Payment Incentive Scheme.

The eight awards won by GTBank include:

  • Best Customer Experience Award: for having the highest level of overall customer satisfaction rating in the delivery of electronic payment services to customers in 2018.
  • Real-Time Payments Transaction Efficiency: for achieving the lowest failure rate in the processing of Instant Payments transactions in 2018.
  • Cashless Driver, USSD Channel Champion: for achieving the highest number of Instant Payments transactions via the USSD channel in 2018.
  • Cashless Driver, Point of Sale (POS) Transactions: for achieving the highest transaction count on Point of Sale (POS) Terminals in 2018.
  • Cashless Driver, Card Usage on Point of Sales (POS) Terminals: for authorising the highest card transaction count on the Point of Sale (POS) Central Terminal Management System in 2018.
  • Direct Debit Driver Award: for processing the highest volume of successful debit mandates across all Payment Service Provider platforms in 2018.
  • E-Reference Operations Efficiency: for the Bank’s outstanding performance in the processing of customers references received from other Banks for account opening purposes on the industry E-reference Platform in 2018.
  • ID Services Driver: for achieving the highest volume in the use of the BVN, e-Passport and NIN customer verification platforms in 2018.

Commenting on the Bank’s EPIS awards, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, said; “We are proud to be recognised by the CBN EPIS Efficiency Awards for our efforts in driving excellence in electronic payments and providing customers with a superior banking experience across all digital touch points. These awards serve as extra motivation for us and we continue to find new and exciting ways to reduce our customers’ pain points and offer them benefits beyond banking.

He further stated that; “At GTBank we are passionate about building the bank of the future that connects our customers directly to all the everyday things that matter to them. That is why we are constantly leveraging the best of technology to, not only make financial services cheaper, more personal and readily accessible, but also to create amazing digital experiences in a way that adds real value to our customers’ lives.”

Guaranty Trust Bank plc is a foremost African Financial Institution with Total Assets of ₦3.287trillion and Shareholders’ Funds of ₦575.6Billion. With banking operations across 10 African countries and the United Kingdom, GTBank is regarded by industry watchers as one of the best run financial institutions in the countries in which it operates and serves as a role model in Africa’s financial service industry due to its bias for world class corporate governance standards, excellent service delivery and innovation.

GTBank

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