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Tony Elumelu: The Quintessential Leader

In the world of success, there are people who the world recognises because of their impact. In this group, Anthony ‘Tony’ Onyemaechi Elumelu stands tall. A graduate of Ambrose Alli University and the University of Lagos, he holds a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Economics, and a Harvard Business School Advanced Management Programme.

In 1995, the then-32-year-old, who had gained experience working with the “Godfather of modern day banking in Nigeria”, Ebitimi Banigo, as Executive Director at Linkage Assurance Company and as Regional Manager in All States Trust Bank, decided to start his own business. With his friends (Albert Okumagba and Chuka Onwuchekwa), he kicked off Banc Granti Limited (BGL).

Having gained ground as a company that facilitates mergers and acquisitions, they soon acquired Merchant Bank Of Commerce and renamed it Continental Trust Bank. Known for seeing through with what he started, he acquired Crystal Bank and transformed it to Standard Bank of Nigeria, one of the top five banks in its time.


In 2005, he acquired the United Bank for Africa (UBA), a bank that now has over seven million customers and with operations in 19 African countries and New York, London and Paris. In 2010, Elumelu retired and founded the Heir Holdings and started a philanthropy foundation for entrepreneurs, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, arguably Africa’s leading support foundation for entrepreneurs.

In 2011, Heirs Holdings bought shares at the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria PLC (Transcorp) and had the controlling interest, making Elumelu the Transcorp chairman. The award-winning businessman also holds high positions in several organisations. Some of them include “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012” (Forbes), Lifetime Achievement Award (Economic Forum of the Ivorian National Council of Employers, CGECI), and Order of the Federal Republic (MFR).

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