11th April 2023


Sonnie Ayere of DLM Capital Group - Building a Pan-African empire

Sonnie Ayere is a goal-oriented financial economist/ investment banker with a strong grasp of macroeconomic principles with over 30 continuous years of solid experience in Corporate and Structured Finance, Banking, and Asset Management. He has worked with HSBC, NatWest Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, Bank of Montreal Nesbitt Burns in London, and the International Finance Corporation. Sonnie has advised on and negotiated complex mandates for several companies and governments across Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2009, Sonnie Ayere had just left United Capital Group, formerly known as UBA Global Markets Ltd, as its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, to set up Dunn Loren Merrifield (now known as DLM Capital Group). DLM Capital Group, which originally started out as an investment banking and advisory

firm, has now morphed into a diversified financial institution, with eight subsidiaries offering services that combine attributes of origination: (raising capital & advisory), trustees, securities, nominees, corporate lending, foreign exchange sales and trading, and digital banking.

Prior to setting up DLM Capital Group, Sonnie Ayere applied his expertise in areas of national service to the Federal Government of Nigeria. In 2004, despite the opposition faced by external factors, Sonnie Ayere pioneered IFC’s interest and championed the development of the Nigerian

Sovereign bond market and was the principal IFC adviser to the Nigerian Debt Management Office on the development of the market. It successfully took off in 2006 with the first issuance calendar; and has now become a huge source of liquidity in the financial market and by extension expands the size of the capital market. Today, Nigeria’s domestic bond market is pegged at N28.94 trillion as of July 15, 2022, by the Financial Market Dealers Quote. (FMDQ). He was then appointed task manager by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to set up the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company Plc (NMRC) and was appointed its inaugural managing director in 2014.

Sonnie Ayere was also tasked by the Council of Petroleum & Energy Ministers of Africa under the chairmanship of Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu to set up the Africa Energy Investment Corporation (AEICORP). Today, AEICORP’s vision is to be Africa’s premier partner of choice and primary provider of finance for Africa’s energy sector. In 2006, Sonnie was member of the Inaugural Nigerian Bond Steering Committee set up by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Mr. Ayere never relented to serve his country in whatever capacity requested of him.


At Sonnie’s 14-years old empire, DLM Capital Group, the focus has remained on driving the development of the Nigerian economy by focusing our expertise on key sectors such as consumer credit, agriculture, microfinance, and education in line with our developmental mandate, to help reduce poverty, improve living conditions for Africans and mobilize resources

for the continent’s economic and social development. DLM Capital Group takes a special interest in crafting financing strategies & solutions for micro-finance banks, asset financing, agricultural, infrastructural, power, energy, oil & gas, and mining sectors of the Nigerian economy. DLM Capital Group is regarded as a market leader in providing best-in-class deal structuring and execution of advisory and capital raising services in the Nigerian capital market.


Through its financial advisory division, DLM Capital Group has become well recognized in the West African capital market for its expertise and leading role in structured finance and securitisation. We acted as sole arranger to more than 80% of structured finance transactions in Nigeria and 100% of all securitisation transactions in the market currently. Some of our innovative financing solutions include: the ₦440Billion Medium Term Note Programme (Mortgage Passthrough) of Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company Plc. NMRC which recorded an all-time high in 2020 when it was oversubscribed by 328% at the completion of its ₦10 billion 7.20% series 3 fixed rate bonds due in 2027. This was the highest subscription for a Nigerian bond so far. Also worthy of note is the Primero BRT Securitisation SPV Plc ₦16.5Billion 17% Series 1 Bonds due 2026 under its ₦100Billion Medium Term Note Programme, CERPAC

Receivables Funding SPV Plc ₦12.5Billion 15.25% Series 1 and ₦1.6Billion 15.50% Series 2 Fixed Rate Bonds due 2025 under ts ₦25Billion Medium Term Note Programme, and CERPAC

Receivables Funding SPV Plc ₦4.83Billion 18.25% Fixed Rate Discrete Bonds due 2025. 

The. CERPAC SPV transaction, till date remains, one of the most innovative securitizations deals out of Nigeria, with DLM Trust Company Limited and DLM Advisory fully involved in its creation, and success. DLM Capital Group has redeemed a part of the CERPAC Receivables Funding SPV and paid investors a total of N17.377Billion from the Discrete and Series 1 bonds which matured 15th January 2023. DLM successfully executed the first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

securitization in Nigeria in 2019. Working with the Sponsor; Primero Transport Services Limited (PTSL) - Nigeria’s first Bus Rapid Transit system that caters to residents of Nigeria’s most densely populated city (Lagos state), DLM successfully raised the sum of ₦16.50Billion (USD45.8Million) through the securitization of the company’s BRT tickets receivables. The

Sponsor, who is licensed to solely operate the longest BRT route in West Africa, spanning 35.3 kilometers with its 434-bus fleet commenced operations in 2015.


A feasibility study conducted about the same time put the daily passenger carriage at about 226,300 passengers per day. However, due to working capital pressures arising from inappropriate funding at the time of business commencement, the company could only commute an average of 135,000 passengers per day before the execution of the securitisation transaction in 2019. The ₦16.5Billion 17.0% Series 1 Fixed Rate Bonds issued were utilized primarily to

refinance all pre-existing commercial banking loan facilities on the books of the Sponsor. The

transaction provided the company with significant savings in interest - shaving its cost of funds from 27% per annum down to 17%, whilst at the same time extending the tenor of the company’s debt from three (3) years to seven (7). By this transaction, DLM was able to provide the company with up to 10% (1000bps) savings in interest which in addition to the tenor extension has significantly reduced the cash required to service debt and thereby improved the working capital of the company. Beyond the bond issuance, we advised on the restructuring of the company’s balance sheet by moving the operating assets into a new vehicle and eliminating the huge strain of depreciation charges on the company’s books. Our ultimate aim is to be the bridge between consumer-based loans and the capital markets.


Over the years, the firm has launched and completed several novel financing transactions across Africa and Europe. Its subsidiaries have demonstrated expertise across the following five core focal points:

• 1. Financial Advisory and Restructuring

• 2. Debt & Equity Capital Raising

• 3. Underwriting

• 4. Mergers & Acquisitions

• 5. Set-up & other Advisory Services


To further improve the reach and earnings of the company, DLM Capital group also intermediates as an NBFI by lending to corporations and medium-sized businesses through one of its subsidiaries – CitiHomes Finance Company.


In 2020, the Group acquired a microfinance bank to aid its transition to digital banking and

lending. The newly acquired microfinance bank, Links Microfinance Bank, was approved

to commence operations by the apex bank and in April 2022, Links MFB launched its flagship digital product Sofri. Sofri was birthed to cater to the financial needs of average Nigerians

who have been neglected by other players within the fintech spectrum. From savings, payments, loans, and. investments, Sofri has adopted the core banking transactions into its mobile app, allowing for a one-stop-shop approach to banking. Now, customer do not need to

operate too many bank apps, they only need to have just the Sofri app. Sofri has positioned itself in Nigeria’s neo-banking space as ‘the bank that gives back’ or ‘the bank that shares its profits with customers.’ In 2023, following the CBN’s cashless policy and the hardship that

ensued after, Sofri gave N10,000 to new customers of the neobank, to help encourage people to adopt the policy as well as cushion the effects of initial economic hardship owing to the

policy. Sofri has since its commencement in 2022, been a solutionist neo-bank looking for ways to better the life of its customers. Perhaps, having its brand name stem from the pidgin English expression ‘SofriSofri’ makes the resolve to be a people-bank stronger. It is Sonnie Ayere’s dream that Sofri will become a commercial bank in the nearest future – a future he can very clearly see. As an offshoot of its excellence in impacting lives across all facets of the economy, DLM Capital Group has won several awards till date. DLM was recognized by Global Finance and Banking Magazine as Most Innovative Deal in Nigeria 2020, Best Development Finance Company Nigeria 2021, Best Securitization House in Nigeria 2019, and Best Securitization

House in Nigeria 2018. Capital Finance International also awarded the Group as Best Structured Finance and Securitization team West Africa for 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Sonnie Ayere looks to build and sustain a Pan-African empire and has begun partnership and

business opportunities that will drive DLM Capital Group in that direction. This dream is big, but so also is Sonnie Ayere’s business acumen and the wealth of knowledge of the people

who work at DLM Capital Group as his advisers and employees.