GCB, Ecobank in tight contest for industry leadership

The contest for leadership of Ghana’s banking industry as adjudged by size is heading for a close climax in 2018 as Ecobank Ghana closes in on GCB Bank in terms of balance sheet size entering the final quarter of the year. By September 30, 2018, GCB Bank still led the industry with total assets of GHc10,375.322 million, but Ecobank has closed the gap with GHc10,071.026 of its own. This gap of barely GHc300 million, is a little over half of the roughly GHc500 million gap, GCB had over Ecobank as at the end of 2017 and chieftains in the latter are determined to close the gap completely during the last quarter of this year and thus regain its erstwhile position as the biggest bank in Ghana.

That position was usurped by GCB during the second half of last year following the purchase and assumption agreement it engaged in with the Bank of Ghana under which it acquired selected assets and all the liabilities of the now defunct UT Bank and Capital Bank, both of which had their operating licenses revoked for reason of technical insolvency in mid-August last year. Ironically, Ecobank had earlier overtaken GCB by total assets in 2012 when it was merged with the defunct The Trust Bank following its acquisition by Ecobank Ghana’s parent bank, the pan African Ecobank Transnational Incorporated.

While Ecobank is closing in on GCB ‘s industry leadership as adjudged by total assets, the latter remains the clear leader adjudged by core capital. However, because of Ecobank’s superior reserves position the two banks are almost neck and neck measured by total shareholders funds, GCB’s GHc1,328.625 million edging Ecobank’s Ghc1,247.364 million as at the end of September this year.

Ecobank however is ahead of GCB by both deposits and loan portfolio size. By September 30, Ecobank had customer deposits of GHc7,649.086 as against GCB’s GHc7,349.294. This is seen as a referendum of sorts matching Ecobank’s emphasis on emergent digital banking delivery systems for its products and services (77% of its customers transactions are now consummated digitally) against GCB’s superior strength in traditional means of product and service delivery (GCB has easily the bigger branch network and wider geographical spread of branches).

Ecobank also has a much bigger loan portfolio, of GHc4,284.318 million compared to GCB’s GHc2,692.455 million.

According to the BoG the third largest bank in Ghana adjudged by total assets is the newly established Consolidated Bank, although its financials have not yet been made available. The erstwhile third largest bank has been Barclays, but it was a distant third with GHc8,321.11 in total assets by September 30.

By Toma Imirhe