The launch of I&M Bank: What BoU’s Deputy Governor Michael Atingi-Ego said in his speech

I&M Bank got its banking licence on November 8, 2021, I&M Group Plc, having acquired majority shares in Orient Bank. The function was held at the Bank of Uganda Office in Kampala where deputy governor Michael Atingi-Ego was chief guest. Below is his speech slightly edited by this news website. Read on.

Congratulations to you for completing the new ownership structure, thereby changing the name from Orient Bank (U) Ltd to I&M Bank (U) Ltd. I&M Group Plc became the major shareholder, with a 90 percent stake, in April 2021.

Having started in 1993, the precursor, Orient Bank (U) Ltd, has 14 branches and 14 ATMs across the country, serving corporate, SME, and retail clients. Orient Bank promoted cashless transactions in Uganda by pioneering the use of point-of-sale technology and deployed a rich suite of technology-driven services to include internet banking, mobile banking, Visa cards, American Express cards, Union Pay and agent banking.

The innovative championing of digitalization made Orient Bank outstanding and remains one of the most attractive aspects in a world of technology-driven banking. We anticipate that the enhanced financial muscle and cross-border banking pedigree brought on by the I&M Group that has subsidiaries across east Africa will substantially power the bank to its next evolution.

Naturally, Orient Bank, the forerunner of I&M Bank, has not succeeded in a vacuum. It has done well because the regulator, the banking sector, and the economy have also done well, for the majority of the last 28 years. Credible macroeconomic management, sound legal and regulatory policies, political stability, and an improving business environment have been key enablers along the way.

We believe that the strong partnership between the Bank of Uganda and the banking sector has been constructive and will remain conducive for I&M Bank (U) Ltd going forward.

But make no mistake about it, the central bank is a serious supervisor that sets high prudential standards. We impose tough prompt corrective actions, where required, to secure the stability of the banking system and safeguard the interests of depositors.

Even as we occasionally take tough action, we fundamentally believe in working with the banking industry, never against it. It is only through working with you as a bank and with the Uganda Bankers Association that, together, we will entrench a vibrant and competitive banking sector.

The spirit of working together was demonstrated when the banking industry and stakeholders, with BoU’s leadership, undertook decisive measures to sustain electronic transactions, relieve individual and SME borrowers, among others, and maintain financial sector stability amidst the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and shutdown of the economy.

The comprehensive package of emergency measures and credit relief in a difficult period of widespread financial stress was achieved together in a spirit of cooperation.

Be that as it may, the credit relief measures expired in their broad scope at the end of September 2021; although they were sustained, on a case-by-case basis, for the sectors that remain shut down e.g., the contact intensive education, entertainment, and tourism. Accordingly, the banking sector should take appropriate and innovative measures to minimize the risks associated with unwinding the pandemic related concessions to borrowers and containing the financial strife facing the contact-intensive sectors, as the country works its way gradually towards the safe reopening of the economy.

The old idiom, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” evokes the belief that no matter what the situation, a hero appears who can turn the tide and win. For Orient Bank, the hero came, saw and conquered, at a time of “a crisis like no other”. That hero is the I&M Group Plc, which completed the share-sale transaction and changed to the new name.

And so, I am most pleased to hand over this banking license to I&M Bank (Uganda) Limited.

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