Recognition for quality service came the way of Zenith Bank Plc again at the weekend with the award to the bank of the Year for its prominent role in the loan facility to United Cement Company Limited (UNICEM) based in Calabar, Cross River State.
The award by Project Finance, a publication Euromoney is in recognition of the bank’s role in the loan arrangement that was hailed at the time as the boldest move to revive the production of cement in the country and help develop the Nigerian real sector.
Zenith Bank was actively involved in the syndication of a N26.44 billion ($205 million) facility for UNICEM for the construction of a green-field cement plant in Calabar, Cross River State.
Speaking after receiving the award on behalf of the bank, Mr. Elias Igbin-Akenzua, Executive Director of Zenith Bank thanked Project Finance and Euromoney for the recognition given Zenith and other participating banks.
He noted that the project and the award for it are indications of the giant strides made in the Nigerian banking industry in recent years, especially since in the past the promoters of the project would have had to source for the financing offshore.
The project for which Zenith Bank was recognised in far away London, England last Thursday was aimed at supporting the Federal Governmentís ban on the importation of cement. The project finance facilities comprised a US$20 million 4-year facility, a US$37 million 7-year facility, N12 billion 7-year facility, and N6.85 billion 9-year facility.
In packaging the facility, Zenith Bank working with the other banks sought to open a fresh line for the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment, generate employment and eventually lead to a possible crash in cement prices.
A breakdown of the facility showed Zenith Bank providing $57.5 million followed by Guaranty Trust Bank with $39 million and Nigeria international Bank with $30 million.
Other banks involved in the loan arrangement include Nigerian International Bank, First Bank Plc ($17m), Union Bank ($10m), Afribank ($19m), Diamond Bank ($12m), IBTC Chartered Bank ($10m) and Ecobank ($10m).
The project, estimated to cost US$425 million was planned to be a modern cement plant with a clinker capacity of 6250tpd and cement production capacity of 2.5Mta Other partners in the project to be cited in Calabar, the Cross River State capital include Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Egyptian Cement Company and Egyptian Cement Holding BV. The company with installed capacity of 2.5Mta is billed to begin production in 2008.