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Brent Hits $78 as Omicron Concerns Ease

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brent crude oil

By Adedapo Adesanya

Brent crude hit the $78 region on Monday following hopes that the Omicron COVID-19 variant will have a limited impact on global demand in 2022.

This development raised the price higher by $2.46 or 3.2 per cent to $78.60 a barrel and pushed the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude value higher by $1.78 or 2.4 per cent to $75.57 per barrel.

Though Omicron is spreading faster than any COVID-19 variant yet, the market is choosing to focus on the evidence that most people infected with it are showing mild symptoms.

Oil, which plunged by more than 10 per cent on November 26 when reports of a new variant first appeared, gained last week after early data suggested that Omicron could cause a milder level of illness.

The Brent has risen by more than 45 per cent this year, supported by recovering demand and supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+.

Even as some countries entered a partial lockdown, the United Kingdom assured that it will not introduce new COVID-19 restrictions for England before the end of 2021, giving support to oil.

However, there was pressure in the US with more than 1,300 flights cancelled by US airlines on Sunday amid surging cases.

Also, COVID-19 reduced the number of available crews while several cruise ships had to cancel stops.

Market analysts noted that this is only likely to cause short-term nerves, with the global recovery story for 2022 still on track.

Talks also resumed between world powers and Iran on reviving Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal on Monday.

The Middle-East producer said that oil exports were the focus of the talks, which so far appear to have made little progress on boosting Iran’s shipments.

With the recent developments, investors will be anticipating the next OPEC+ meeting on January 4, in which the producer alliance will decide whether to go ahead with a planned 400,000 barrels per day production increase in February.

OPEC+ stuck to its plans at its last meeting to boost output for January despite Omicron.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Economy

Awe Urges Corporate Firms to Adopt Sound Sustainability Reporting

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Sustainability Reporting

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Corporate organisations operating in the country have been charged by the chief executive of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Regulation Limited, Ms Tinuade Awe, to adopt sound sustainability reporting as it would help investment decisions of investors.

At an event held on Tuesday themed Unlocking ESG for Boards from Strategy to Disclosure, Ms Awe said investors have the right to know the impact of businesses on the environment, especially at a time people are conscious of it.

She encouraged companies to adopt best practices in their disclosure on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues by ensuring that their sustainability reports capture relevant sustainability disclosures that are relevant to their stakeholders.

“Our world today is facing major sustainability challenges including inequality, overpopulation, climate change, and several environmental risks. By recognizing that capital allocation makes a real impact on the environment and society at large, investors can reap sustainable long-term investment decisions through investments in ESG-themed investments.

“Furthermore, adopting an ESG-lens in our approach to investment is critical for investors to identify businesses that implement a forward-looking approach to managing long-term risks and leveraging opportunities that ensure long-term ensure economic, environmental, and social responsibility,” the NGX Regulation CEO said at the webinar hosted by Corporate Secretaries International Association (CSIA).

The organisation put hosted the gathering to explore how businesses and organisations can carry a full 360 approach to ESG, from integrating into business strategies to complying with regulations and standards.

In recommending critical disclosures that should be included in a sustainability report, Ms Awe said, “historically, sustainability reports cover the address a company’s approach to managing the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) of people, profit and planet.”

“However, disclosures in sustainability reports have evolved over the years to address the needs of a wide array of stakeholders. In publishing their sustainability reports, companies should consider a number of relevant disclosures including materiality, sustainability risks, and opportunities as well as a detailed explanation of how companies are addressing the risks and levering the opportunities.

“In addition, a sustainability report should include disclosures on how sustainability is governed by the Board, Executive Management, and designated officers responsible for managing the organisation’s impact footprint,” she added.

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Economy

60 Startups to Share $4m Google’s Black Founders Fund

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Google Black Founders Fund

By Dipo Olowookere

The sum of $4 million will be distributed to 60 startups established by Africans in the second edition of the Google for Startup Black Founders Fund for Africa.

In the maiden edition, the tech giant shared $3 million to 50 eligible black-founded startups across Africa as part of efforts to support innovation in underserved areas.

This year, eligible entrepreneurs will receive between $50,000 and $100,000 non-dilutive cash awards and up to $200,000 per startup in Google Cloud credits, support in the form of training, and access to a network of mentors to assist in tackling the challenges unique to each startup.

Application for the initiative has opened via http://goo.gle/BFFAfrica and will close on May 31, 2022, with winners announced on July 29, 2022.

Google will select winners from 13 countries with active tech and startup ecosystems and they are Botswana, Cameroun, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. However, strong applications from other African countries will also be considered.

It was gathered that businesses eligible for selection for the cohort include early-stage startups with black founders or diverse founding teams, startups benefiting from the black community, operating and headquartered in Africa, startups with a diverse founding team with at least one black founding member; those having a legal presence on the continent and building technology solutions for Africa and the global market; and those who have the growth potential to raise more funding and create jobs.

The Head of Startup Ecosystem for sub-Saharan Africa for Google, Folarin Aiyegbusi, stated that, “The Black Founders Fund Africa demonstrates our commitment to supporting innovation in underserved areas.

“Black-led tech startups face an unfair venture capital funding environment and that is why we are committed to helping them thrive, grow to be better and ensure the success of communities and economies in our region.

“The fund will provide cash awards and hands-on support to 60 Black-led startups in Africa, which we hope will aid in developing affordable solutions to fundamental challenges affecting those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid in Africa.”

“We are hopeful that the support received by the black founders will enable them to grow their business and in turn drive economic growth in Africa as they create solutions and give back to their communities,” Aiyegusi added.

The Google for Startups Black Founders fund was launched in the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement as part of the platform’s racial equality commitments.

The initiative is a pledge toward driving economic opportunity for Black business owners, providing support to startups in the region in the form of equity-free cash assistance that helps them take care of immediate needs such as paying staff, funding inventory, and maintaining software licenses.

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Economy

Stocks Shed 0.35% as Flour Mills, GSK, Others Fall

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flour mills

By Dipo Olowookere

Profit-taking continued on the floor of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited on Tuesday, with the bourse shedding 0.35 per cent at the close of transactions.

The decline occurred amid a resurgence of negative investor sentiment as the market breadth was bearish with 21 price gainers and 27 price losers led by Flour Mills, which fell by 9.20 per cent to N37.00.

GlaxoSmithKline went down by 8.39 per cent to N6.55, NPF Microfinance Bank dropped 8.02 per cent to N1.95, Japaul depreciated by 6.25 per cent to 30 kobo, while Champion Breweries slacked by 6.09 per cent to N3.70.

On the flip side, PZ Cussons topped the gainers’ chart after it gained 9.96 per cent to close at N13.25, Berger Paints rose by 9.72 per cent to N7.90, Northern Nigerian Flour Mills improved by 9.63 per cent to N11.95, McNichols appreciated by 9.52 per cent to N1.61, while Abbey Mortgage Bank grew by 9.49 per cent to N1.50.

Only the industrial goods counter closed higher yesterday as it gained 0.05 per cent. The consumer goods, banking, energy and insurance sectors lost 0.54 per cent, 0.39 per cent, 0.31 per cent and 0.21 per cent respectively.

At the close of trades, the All-Share Index (ASI) went down by 187.47 points to 52,756.62 points from 52,944.09 points, while the market capitalisation reduced by N101 billion to N28.442 trillion from N28.543 trillion.

Business Post reports that the volume of trades rose by 253.76 per cent to 1.3 billion from 374.2 million, the value of transactions increased by 55.62 per cent to N7.7 billion from N5.0 billion, while the number of deals went down by 5.91 per cent to 6,449 deals from 6,854 deals.

The significant increase in the trading volume was due to an off-market deal in FCMB yesterday and it topped the chart with the sale of 775.1 million units of stocks valued at N3.0 billion.

Jaiz Bank transacted 172.2 million shares worth N151.8 million, Transcorp sold 140.1 million stocks valued at N202.1 million, GTCO exchanged 50.4 million equities worth N1.2 billion, while International Breweries traded 21.0 million shares valued at N165.1 million.

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