Home » Nigeria’s richest banker loses $158 million to naira devaluation

Nigeria’s richest banker loses $158 million to naira devaluation

by Omokolade Ajayi
Jim Ovia

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to unify all segments of the foreign exchange (FX) market in mid-June has led to the devaluation of the naira, causing prominent businessmen in the nation, including Nigeria’s richest banker Jim Ovia, to grapple with substantial wealth losses.

Ovia, who holds a leading position as one of Nigeria’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, suffered considerable setbacks due to the impact of the currency devaluation. Despite his status as Nigeria’s richest banker, Ovia joins a growing list of the country’s business magnates adversely affected by the devaluation of the naira.

Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest individual, is another figure who suffered significant wealth losses earlier this year because of the exchange rate unification. His net worth plummeted below $10 billion in June. Notably, the recent devaluation of the naira has extracted a staggering toll of $158.6 million from Ovia, according to data tracked by Billionaires.Africa.

Ovia’s 16.2-percent stake in Zenith Bank, comprising 5,072,104,311 ordinary shares, underlines his position as Nigeria’s richest banker and one of the continent’s leading businessmen. Since the start of the year, Zenith Bank, a leading lender he founded in 1990, boasts an impressive share price surge of 41.2 percent on the Nigerian Exchange.

Based on the exchange rate of 448.06 naira to a dollar on Jan. 1 and accounting for the rise in Zenith Bank’s shares, the estimated market value of Ovia’s stake in the prominent financial services conglomerate is $384.74 million.

However, the CBN’s transformative action to unify the FX market on June 14 prompted a seismic shift in the naira’s valuation, pushing it from N448.06 per dollar at the start of the year to N758 for one dollar. Consequently, the value of Ovia’s stake in Zenith Bank stands at $226.07 million, culminating in a substantial loss of $158.67 million due to currency devaluation.

Despite the fiscal setbacks he has endured, Ovia’s position as Nigeria’s richest banker remains steadfast. His standing as one of Africa’s most prosperous business magnates and a driving force within the continent’s banking sector also remains unshaken.

The naira’s devaluation has undoubtedly brought unprecedented challenges for Nigeria’s business titans, inflicting substantial economic losses on even the most prominent players in the country’s entrepreneurial landscape.

While the evolving market dynamics continue to pose intricate challenges, business leaders like Ovia endure, reflecting the resilience ingrained in the Nigerian business community.

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