By Obinna Chima
The macro-economic challenges in the country as well as the level of depreciation suffered by the nation’s currency, will compel more commercial banks to seek for avenues to beef their capital this year, a Lagos-based investment and research firm, CSL Stockbrokers Limited stated in a report titled: “Capital Adequacy: Pulse Check.”
The move, the firm added, is expected to enable the financial institutions withstand any shock in the industry as well as to remain above the regulatory threshold.
Capital adequacy is a persistent issue for a number of Nigerian banks. Regulatory capital ratios have been impacted by the large depreciation of the naira given the extent of dollar lending in the sector. They have also been hit by the sharp rise in impairments (implying little or no retained earnings).
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) requires that banks with international subsidiaries maintain a capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 15 per cent while banks without international subsidiaries maintain a CAR of 10 per cent. The minimum requirement for systemically important banks (effective July this year) is 16 per cent.
First City Monument Bank Limited (FCMB) last week sold N5.1 billion bonds, less than it originally planned to raise, at an interest rate coupon of 17.25 percent, its advisers said on Friday. The seven-year bond was issued by way of a book-building with Standard Chartered Bank, local investment bank Chapel Hill Denham and FCMB Capital Markets as book runners. The offer was fully subscribed.
But before the recent Access Bank’s offer, the last Eurobond issued out of Nigeria was in October 2014 by Seven Energy Finance Limited.
Sourcing naira bonds has also become a tough call given high interest rates on treasury bills and FGN bonds.
Wema Bank had embarked on an issue of N20 billion in local currency bonds after scrapping plans in 2015 to issue a $100 million 7-year dollar bond because of currency risks. Sterling Bank also tried to raise a N35 billion local currency-denominated bond last year.
However, a look at banks’ nine months 2016 capital adequacy ratios (CAR), according to the report suggested that the industry may begin to see a flurry of capital raising activities if macro-economic conditions fail to improve.
Nonetheless, the report indicated that the smaller banks may have more difficulty in finding willing investors in their foreign bond market and the domestic market. The bigger banks however appeared to have performed better last year as Guaranty Trust Bank successfully redeemed its $500 million Eurobond early 2016. Access Bank also successfully refinanced its existing senior unsecured $350 million 7.25% notes due July 2017 last year.
Despite challenges in the raising naira bonds, the expectation is that local currency bonds would remain the favoured option, especially for the mid-cap lenders.
According the report, the options available to the banks are limited in the current macro environment.
“Rights issues would be very dilutive given low share prices while raising tier-2 capital, by issuing long-term dollar subordinated debt, is difficult in as US dollar rates can be so high as to make the exercise unprofitable in terms of spreads on US assets.
“Sourcing naira bonds has also become a tough call given high interest rates on treasury bills and FGN bonds. Despite challenges in raising naira bonds, we believe that local currency bonds still remain the favoured option, especially for the mid-cap lenders, ” it added.
The CBN had tried various means in the past months to reduce the widening gap between interbank and parallel market rates. Despite these measures however, the naira has continued on a depreciatory path in the parallel market, and fell to a historic low of N500 to the dollar last week.
Asset quality also remains a problem for the industry. If a bank suffers an unexpected rise in cost of risk (COR) that exceeds the capacity of one year’s profits to absorb it, then that bank will be looking at writing down capital.
“We examine the potential impact on capital of a sudden surge in CoR and a notional further 20 per cent naira devaluation on capital adequacy. A further 20 per cent devaluation will still leave the banks we cover in this report above regulatory limits, although Diamond just barely. “In our first scenario, which assumes 10 per cent of loans to stressed sectors go bad, Zenith, Guaranty Trust Bank, UBA, Access, and Fidelity remain at comfortable capital levels.
“An unexpected surge in CoR, assuming 20 per cent of these loans go bad, however will take all the banks, with the exception of Access, below regulatory limits,” it added.
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