By Dipo Olowookere
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has called on financial institutions in the country to provide adequate support to agro-processing companies.
According to him, the decline in the foreign exchange earnings from crude oil is a clear pointer that attention must be shifted to the agriculture sector.
Mr Emefiele, who spoke at the 13th annual banking and finance conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), stressed that the agriculture industry has the tendency of withstanding external shocks better than its oil counterpart.
In view of this, he called on players in the banking and financial system to provide support for “sectors that have significant growth potential and can enhance the resilience of the Nigerian economy, in the face of external shocks.”
“Over the next 4 years, the banking sector should consider ways under which it could increase its loans to the agriculture sector from 4 per cent to 10 per cent by 2024.
“With declining foreign exchange earnings from crude oil, banks should consider supporting agro processing companies that are export oriented,” Mr Emefiele said.
At the event, the nation’s chief banker said President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a CBN led infrastructure company called Infra-Corp.
According to him, this company was established in partnership with the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
He said Infra-Corp would enable the use of private and public capital to support infrastructure investments that will have a multiplier effect on growth across critical sectors.
The CBN chief noted that the apex bank “is seeking to leverage ICT in order to improve access to finance for Nigerians.
“Improved access to finance through deployment of an inclusive and interoperable payment system would help to reduce the cost of payment services for individuals,” he declared.
Concluding, the former GMD of Zenith Bank emphasised that, “It is important that we leverage ICT as an enabler for growth in key sectors of the economy.
“ICT start-ups are emerging to support SMEs, farmers, and in providing quality learning to students affected by the shutdown in schools.”
Nestle, Nigerian Breweries Stocks Get Sell Rating
By Dipo Olowookere
Analysts at Greenwich Merchant Bank have placed sell rating on the shares of Nestle Nigeria and Nigerian Breweries.
However, they put a buy rating on Ecobank, Zenith Bank, FBN Holdings and UBA, while GTBank, Cadbury Nigeria, PZ Cussons, Guinness Nigeria and Unilever Nigeria all have hold rating.
In a report released over the weekend, the firm said Nestle, which has traded as low as N764.90 per unit in the last one year and as high as N1,505.00 per unit, can be sold by holders at the present value of N1,350 because it has surpassed the target price of N963.87.
The company further said Nigerian Breweries, which had a target price of N43.57, can be offloaded now that it is selling at N49.50.
For Ecobank, it said investors can buy at the current value of N5 because it has a 12-month target price of N14.51, while Zenith Bank could reach N31.26, higher than the present N25.30.
It further said FBN Holdings and UBA have the tendency to reach N13.06 and N12.55 respectively, higher than the current respective price of N7.10 and N7.95.
Greenwich also said investors with GTBank could still hold the stocks because it has the tendency to sell at N32.75, while Cadbury Nigeria, PZ Cussons, Guinness Nigeria and Unilever Nigeria could sell for N9.26, %.77, N21.19 and N13.60 respectively.
Meanwhile, the company said the dampened sentiments may likely continue as a result of “the rising yields in the fixed income space.”
“In the new week, we expect the market sentiment to remain weak, although we do not rule out the possibility of an uptick by the end of the week,” it projected.
At the fixed income market, Greenwich said news that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was planning to phase-out the participation of international players in the OMO-bill market caused some investors to selloffs their holdings.
The CBN, however, debunked the information and the average yield closed flat at 5.6 per cent.
This week, the firm expects “market players to continue to trade cautiously with mixed sentiment across the curve while seeking opportunities to cherry-pick higher-yielding papers across the curve.”
Oil Looks Positive as Saudi Terminal Attacks Spur Price Above $70
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Brent crude edged closer to $71 per barrel on Monday morning after oil giant, Saudi Arabia, confirmed that one of its facilities, which is the world’s largest crude terminal, was attacked.
As at the time of this report, the global crude benchmark, which most countries prices their futures against, was trading at $70.50 per barrel, while the United States’ benchmark, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI), was up by 1.66 per cent to sell at $67.19.
Saudi had said a storage tank at Ras Tanura located in the country’s Gulf coast was attacked on Sunday by a drone from the sea but output appeared to be unaffected after the missiles and drones were intercepted.
The terminal is capable of exporting roughly 6.5 million barrels a day, which is nearly 7 per cent of oil demand and is considered as one of the worlds’ most protected installations.
The assault follows a recent escalation of hostilities in the Middle East region after Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched a series of attacks on Saudi Arabia.
The latest attack has been viewed as the most serious in the last two years since a key processing facility and two oil fields came under fire in September 2019, cutting oil production for several days.
Although the Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, the Kingdom pointed its fingers at its Gulf rival, Iran, as the culprit, further adding to tensions in the region.
Notably, the new Joe Biden administration of the US has also carried out airstrikes in Syria last month on sites it said were connected with Iran-backed groups.
Oil climbed last week after the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) made a surprise pledge to keep output steady in April, boosting oil prices to their best in more than 13 months.
The move prompted a number of investment banks to raise their price forecasts, with Goldman Sachs Group estimating global benchmark Brent will top $80 a barrel in the third quarter of 2021.
Oil prices are expected to perform at their best this week as President Biden is on the point of his first legislative win with the House ready to pass his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, the second-biggest economic stimulus in American history.
Morison Manages 20% Weekly Gain in Depressed Stock Market
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
For those keenly following happenings in the Nigerian stock market, they will observe that things have not been too smooth this year.
The market has been struggling to replicate the sterling performance it put up from the second quarter of last year. Share prices have been depleting, no thanks to rising yields in the fixed income market, causing investors to divert their funds to the environment.
Last week, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) suffered a weekly loss of 1.18 per cent as the All-Share Index and market capitalisation depreciated to 39,331.61 points and N20.578 trillion respectively.
Similarly, all other indices finished lower with the exception of industrial goods and NSE Sovereign Bond indices, which appreciated by 1.39 per cent and 0.07 per cent while the ASeM index closed flat.
Business Post reports that in the week, only 14 stocks closed on the price gainers’ chart, lower than 20 stocks of the previous week.
Leading the chart was Morison Industries, which appreciated by 20.00 per cent to 66 kobo per share and was distantly followed by SAHCO, which gained 9.54 per cent to settle at N3.33 per share.
Unity Bank grew by 8.96 per cent to 73 kobo per share, BETA Glass gained 8.00 per cent to sell for N54.00 per share, while Lasaco Assurance appreciated by 5.69 per cent to N1.30 per share.
On the losers’ log, there were 71 members last week, higher than 43 in the previous week, with Champion Breweries taking the top spot after a 33.33 per cent decline in its share price to N1.68 per unit.
Japaul lost 28.99 per cent to trade at 49 kobo per share, Ardova declined by 25.21 per cent to N13.50 per share, Oando fell by 23.19 per cent to N2.65 per share, while NASCON dropped 19.00 per cent to trade at N13.00 per share.
Also in the week, a total of 77 equities remained unchanged, lower than 99 equities recorded in the previous week.
A look at the level of trading activities in the week showed that financial stock dominated with the sale of 1.6 billion units worth N10.7 billion executed in 13,269 deals, contributing 78.06 per cent and 36.06 per cent to the total trading volume and value respectively.
Shares in the consumer goods industry followed with 92.0 million units valued at N4.5 billion carried out in 4,168 deals, while the third place was energy equities with a turnover of 91.3 million units worth N10.5 billion transacted in 1,471 deals.
Wema Bank, Axa Mansard Insurance and Zenith Bank were the most active stock by volume with a turnover of 903.6 million units valued at N5.6 billion executed in 4,017 deals, contributing 43.19 per cent and 18.71 per cent to the total trading volume and value respectively.
At the close of transactions for the week last Friday, investors traded a total of 2.1 billion shares worth N29.7 billion in 24,238 deals as against the 1.9 billion shares worth N20.7 billion transacted in 24,687 deals a week earlier.
New FX Policy Will Cut Cost Burden of Remitting Funds—CBN
By Dipo Olowookere
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has explained the reason it came up with a new foreign exchange (FX) policy on diaspora remittances.
On Saturday, the apex bank, under the leadership of Mr Godwin Emefiele, announced a new forex promo tagged CBN Naira 4 Dollar Scheme, an incentive for senders and recipients of International Money Transfers.
The campaign, which will last for two months from March 8 to May 8, 2021, will enable “all recipients of diaspora remittances through CBN licensed IMTOs [to] be paid N5 for every $1 received as remittances inflow.”
After the circular was issued, the central bank explained the reason behind the policy, noting that it was to make it possible for Nigeria to tap into the booming remittances industry.
The apex bank said a forecast by PwC suggests that Nigeria’s remittance flows could reach $34.89 billion by 2023 and to meet this target, there must be channels put in place.
“This can only be accomplished if remittance infrastructure improves and if the right policies are put in place,” the central bank explained in a separate post.
It further said this new policy was also in line “with the global trend [as] Nigeria aspires to ensure that remittance flows and diaspora investments become a significant source of external financing.”
The apex bank expressed optimism that the rebate of N5 for every $1 of fund remitted to Nigeria “will help to make the process of sending remittance through formal bank channels cheaper and more convenient for Nigerians in the diaspora.”
It also noted that the “new FX policy will create an easier, more flexible, and more transparent, system of remittance administration, it will greatly enhance the benefits of diaspora remittances in supporting investments and growth in Nigeria.”
“[The] policy on the administration of remittance flows is aimed at increasing the transparency of remittance inflows, reducing rent-seeking activities, and providing Nigerians in the diaspora with cheaper and more convenient ways of sending remittances to Nigeria,” it added.
Concluding, the CBN said, “The use of reimbursements of remittance fees has been critical in supporting improved inflow of remittances to countries in South Asia and in improving their balance of payments position following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Business Post reports that since the new policy was announced yesterday, some economists have suggested that the apex bank was in desperate need of Dollars.
In recent time, the price of crude oil, Nigeria’s main source of FX earnings, has been on the rise, trading close to $70 per barrel at the global market.
In the 2021 budget signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2020, the crude oil benchmark price was $40 per barrel, implying that Nigeria is earning more than it projected.
However, instead of the nation’s external reserves to rise as a result of more FX inflows from oil sales, the account balance is shrinking. The FX reserves currently stand at $34.9 billion as against $35.1 billion on February 26, 2021.
SEC Secures $400,000 for Nigerian Capital Market
By Adedapo Adesanya
A grant worth $400,000 has been granted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).
The financing package was approved to allow the apex capital market regulator in Nigeria to strengthen securities market regulation and broaden market instruments.
The funds will go towards strengthening the risk-based supervision framework, regulation of derivatives and green bonds, and build capacity for green finance.
The grant will be sourced from the Capital Markets Development Trust Fund, a multi-donor fund administered by the regional lender.
Speaking on the agreement at the virtual signing, Mr Lamido Yuguda, the Director-General of SEC, said, “This collaboration further underscores our mutual goal to grow our markets and create viable avenues for sustainable economic development for Nigeria and the region.”
The grant is aligned with the priorities of the bank’s country strategy for Nigeria, which envisages measures to stimulate capital market development to unlock financial resources for productive sector investments, infrastructure development and private sector growth.
On his part, Mr Lamin Barrow, Senior Director of the bank’s Nigeria Country Department, noted the urgency of the implementation of the project.
“At a time when countries are striving to build back better from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, improvement of the enabling regulatory and supervision framework will boost domestic resource mobilisation efforts and leverage private sector contributions to achieve a greener, more environmentally sustainable and inclusive post-pandemic recovery,” Mr Barrow said.
Adding his input, Mr Oscar Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), thanked both the AfDB and SEC “for this historic event and partnership, to build in-house capacity at SEC, the Nigerian Stock Exchange, issuers and investors in the sustainable finance space, which will help to meet climate finance commitments in Nigeria.”
The project is expected to support the implementation of the SEC’s Nigeria Capital Market Master Plan 2015-2025 and its vision to position Nigeria’s capital market as a competitive and attractive destination for portfolio investments.
NASD Delists ARM Life Shares After Merger With Tangerine Life
By Dipo Olowookere
Shares of ARM Life Plc have been delisted from the trading platform of the NASD over-the-counter (OTC) Securities Exchange, Business Post has confirmed.
The company’s securities were removed from the unlisted securities market by the exchange on Monday, March 1, 2021, after the firm was acquired by Tangerine Life Insurance Limited.
In February 2020, both companies said they were exploring each other’s strengths to form an impressive new enterprise that will delight its customers with its quality products and commitment to their satisfaction.
Tangerine Life has a very strong presence in the corporate market segment of the underwriting industry, while ARM Life is a formidable force in the retail and annuity-based service space.
With the merger, it is expected that the new entity will take control of the underwriting industry in Nigeria and from the information gathered by this newspaper, Tangerine Life has already cemented itself as the fourth largest life insurer in Nigeria with the transaction, allowing it to offer insurance services to the youth and others.
With the deal completed and ARM Life shares delisted from NASD OTC Exchange, the new company will likely operate as a private entity.
Confirming the exit of ARM Life from its platform, the NASD disclosed that in a notice that, “Further to the appointment of Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers Limited as the stockbrokers to the merger between Tangerine Life Insurance Limited and ARM Life Plc, we wish to inform you of the following:
“Following the full suspension placed on the shares of ARM Life Plc, the last trading date of ARM Life Plc on NASD OTC Securities Exchange was Thursday, February 11, 2021.
“Upon the completion of the merger between Tangerine and ARM life Plc, ARM Life Plc is delisted on the NASD OTC Securities Exchange on March 1, 2021, and would not be eligible to trade on its market.”
It was gathered that to make the deal go through, Tangerine Life had to acquire a 77.22 per cent equity stake in ARM Life and acquired a further 1.05 per cent equity stake through the subsequent mandatory take-over offer incompliance with the law and regulations, bringing its total shareholding in ARM Life to 78.27 per cent as at the date of the scheme document.
As consideration for the transfer, Tangerine Life will offer the other shareholders of ARM Life 70 kobo for every share held in the firm.
Shareholders also have the option to receive shares in Tangerine Life in the ratio of 8 shares in Tangerine Life for every 100 shares held in ARM Life.
Recall that the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), which regulates the sector, stipulated an increase in minimum capital requirements for life insurance, general insurance, composite insurance and reinsurance companies with a two-step target timeline of December 31, 2020, and September 30, 2021.
Specifically, the life insurance license capital requirement was increased from N2 billion to N8 billion, while life insurers are expected to have a minimum capital of N4 billion by December 31, 2020, and N8 billion by September 30, 2021.
The recapitalisation in the Nigerian insurance industry is expected to impact the competitive landscape of the insurance industry.
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