In 2015, shareholders of United Bank of Africa (UBA), one of the leading continental lenders, discovered that the financier had spent Sh3.5 billion (12.5 billion naira) on “other transportation equipment”, a euphemism for an aircraft.
The bank had not bought the plane as an investment or stake but the private jet would help managers run a complex continental business that most players have failed to crack.
GTB Bank, another West African lender that set out to conquer Africa, spent Sh2.3 billion (8.34 billion naira) to purchase an “aircraft” as reported in its 2015 annual report.
Struggling retailer Choppies is also said to have bought an eight-seater jet as part of its plans to make access to their branches easier and convenient.
Banking the continent has not been a rosy story. It was the graveyard for Atlas Mara or a black hole sucking money from the parent bank but giving very little in return even for successful brands such as UBA, Ecobank, GTB, Barclays and Standard Bank.
“Over the years, UBA has made considerable financial investments to become Africa’s global bank with operations in 20 African countries, the United Kingdom, the USA and France,” said Emeke E Iweriebor, the CEO for UBA East and Southern Africa.