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Banker Of The Year 2014 – Henry James Semenitari (MD/CEO, Unity Bank Plc)

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From rallying the bank from a shrinking asset base to the position of seventh largest bank in Nigeria, with shareholder’s fund at N51.2 billion, Henry James Semenitari is LEADERSHIP Banker of the Year 2014.

When James Semenitari took the reins of management at Unity Bank Plc in 2011, it was evident that he had his job cut out for him. At the time, Unity Bank was still consolidating its hold on the Nigerian banking space after emerging from the largest merger and consolidation in Nigeria’s banking industry. Semenitari, however, came ready for the job; he proved himself a marketer who knew his onions beyond rhetoric. He went to work, chiseling away every impediment to the emergence of Unity Bank as one of Nigeria’s leading banks. He also brought to bear on Unity Bank his more than two decades banking experience and the result is exciting to both customers and shareholders. However, Semenitari was not done with repositioning Unity Bank; he took the bank to the next level in the consolidation ladder through rights issue and private placement of N39.224 billion. Perhaps, Semenitari did not bargain for the outcome of the issue; the N39.224billion offer was oversubscribed.

Prior to assuming the position of MD/CEO in 2011, Semenitari served as executive director, Public Sector and Government, First City Monument Bank Plc . He has valuable and consistent banking experience in Operations, Internal Control, Commercial and Retail Banking, Consumer Banking, Corporate Banking (Energy), etc., acquired from various banks over a 22-year career at First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Zenith Bank, Diamond Bank, United Bank for Africa, ACB International Bank and Continental Trust Bank.

Mr. Semenitari holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from University of Lagos (1987) and an MBA from University of Navarra (I.E.S.E.), Barcelona, Spain (2000). He is also an alumnus of both the Harvard and the Cambridge Judge Business Schools.

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