Home » Nigeria’s richest banker Jim Ovia gains $16.8 million from Zenith Bank stake

Nigeria’s richest banker Jim Ovia gains $16.8 million from Zenith Bank stake

Jim Ovia's Zenith Bank stake sees significant surge

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Jim Ovia

Key Points:

  • Jim Ovia, Nigeria’s richest banker, gained $16.77 million as Zenith Bank’s share price surged 16.67% in 19 days.
  • The bank reported a 202.3% profit increase in Q1 2024, boosting investor confidence and share price.
  • Despite strong bank performance, the naira’s weakness translates to a 47.69% YTD loss for dollar-based investments.

Jim Ovia, Nigeria’s richest banker and a key figure in the nation’s banking industry, has experienced a notable increase in the market value of his stake in Zenith Bank, reflecting growing confidence in the bank’s strategic direction in the financial services sector.

Over the past 19 days, Ovia, ranked among Africa’s wealthiest individuals, has seen his stake in the leading lender rise by N25.36 billion ($16.77 million). This surge follows increased investor interest in the shares of the group.

The uptick comes after a previous decline, during which his stake in Zenith Bank fell by $13.3 million between April 25 and May 2, dropping from N184.62 billion ($132.30 million) to N166.11 billion ($119.03 million).

Zenith Bank’s robust financial performance

Zenith Bank, licensed as a commercial bank by the Central Bank of Nigeria, is a prominent financial services provider in Nigeria and anglophone West Africa. It holds the title of Nigeria’s most profitable bank and is one of the largest listed financial services groups on the Nigerian Exchange.

Jim Ovia, who founded Zenith Bank in 1990 owns a 16.2 percent stake in the financial services group, comprising 5,072,104,311 ordinary shares, he remains the wealthiest banker in Nigeria.

In the first quarter of 2024, Zenith Bank delivered strong financial results, with profit increasing by 202.3 percent to N676.91 billion ($522.03 million). This growth was driven by robust gross earnings, including interest income, fees, and commissions.

The impressive financial performance fueled a 16.67 percent rise in Zenith Bank shares on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), climbing from N30 ($0.01981) on May 24 to N35 ($0.023085). This increase has elevated the bank’s market capitalization to over $725 million, benefiting shareholders, including Ovia, who holds a 16.2 percent stake in the bank.

Ovia’s continued leadership and market influence

Jim Ovia, who founded Zenith Bank in 1990, is a pivotal figure in the evolution and digital transformation of Nigeria’s banking industry. With a 16.2 percent stake in Zenith Bank, comprising 5,072,104,311 shares, he remains the wealthiest banker in Nigeria.

According to data tracked by Billionaires.Africa, the market value of his stake has increased by N25.36 billion ($16.77 million) over the past 19 days, rising from N152.16 billion ($100.59 million) on May 24 to N177.52 billion ($117.36 million) at the time of this report.

Your Money and Your Life

Despite a recent rebound in Zenith Bank’s shares, investments face challenges due to the Nigerian naira’s devaluation against the U.S. dollar, leading to a year-to-date (YTD) decline of 47.69 percent after accounting for devaluation. In local currency terms, Zenith Bank shares are down 10.26 percent YTD.

The significant currency depreciation translates into tangible losses for investors. For instance, a $100,000 investment in Zenith Bank at the start of the year would now be worth $52,310, representing a substantial loss of $47,690.

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