United Bank first to attend River Dinner

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United Bank SC has become the first entity to show an interest in attending the grand fundraising dinner that the Prime Minister is hosting at the historical Menilik Hall, located in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Recently, PM Abiy Ahmed introduced the 29 billion birr Addis Ababa Riverside Project, with the objective of changing city riversides into recreational, social and economic centers.
To finance the project Abiy sat down with several potential individuals and organizations. This included financial institutions.
Meanwhile the National Bank of Ethiopia, which regulates financial firms, has approached banks via the Bankers Association, which is made up of bank CEOs to donate 1.5 percent of their net profit. This has confused some banks’ board of directors, who say that this decision must be approved by the shareholders at the general assembly.
The United Bank’s 21st general meeting held on April 20, approved the proposal by the board of directors to be part of the project and attend the grand dinner.
The shareholders fully agreed to fund 10 million birr or to purchase two plates at the dinner that will take place in May.
Zafu Eyesuswork Zafu, who chairs the board, and the founder and major shareholder of the bank, said that the project has an economic value and pays respect and gives solidarity to the Prime Minister.
There was also a request to support displaced people and a project at Ambo in addition to the riverside, according to financial sector leaders.
Zafu said his bank evaluates every case differently. He said that during its 20th annual general assembly, the shareholders approved funding the equivalent of 0.5 percent of the bank’s profit for the National Disaster Risk Management Commission.
“We had already settled this corporate social responsibility work before we were asked to support the displaced people,” he said. According to the board chair, the Ambo project is related to the stadium and will be evaluated in the future.
“We understand that the capital city project has several marketing aspects like improving bank revenue by expanding tourism and creating jobs and Addis Ababa is the capital of the country and the continent,” he explained.
“The current shareholders’ decision is more than the initial request of 1.5 percent of the profit,” he added. According to our last year’s performance 1.5 percent meant 8.1 million birr, but the shareholders approved 10 million birr.
Meanwhile share holders talked about how much to fund, originally the ordinary general meeting was called to assign a new external auditor. They want to replace A.W. THOMAS L.P., who was assigned two years, since his asking price has gone up by 200 percent. He claims that implementation of IFRS has created more burden.
Then the board of directors called the general meeting to assign another new auditor and selected HST, a well known audit firm.
The general meeting used the opportunity to allocate one percent of a net profit to cover similar requests and provide corporate social responsibility. Based on the decision one percent of profits will be included in the annual budget to fund similar cases approved by the board of directors.
The current bank decision makes United the first body to officially announce that it will attend the dinner.
Zafu said that United Bank is keen to provide supports in collaboration with other financial firms in an organized manner.