First City Monument Bank (FCMB) sustained new strengths in operations in the second quarter despite the challenges of the COVID-19 economic lockdown. The bank kept all the growth levers up from the closing levels in 2019.
The addition of new strengths and retention of some key capabilities of the preceding year constitutes the operating advantage for the bank this year. It is maintaining the elevated revenue outlook seen in the first quarter, which is happening for the first time since 2017.
Both interest and non-interest incomes are contributing to revenue improvement but non-interest earnings keep leading the way. Against a drop of 11 per cent in 2019, non-interest income grew by 13 per cent year-on-year at half-year ended June 2020.
Interest income is still accelerating from 4 per cent at the end of last year to 8 per cent at half-year though slowing down from 15 per cent growth in the first quarter. This remains the highest growth rate in interest income for the bank at any time since 2014.
The good behaviour of interest expenses seen in the first quarter improved to better in the second quarter. From a moderated growth of 4 per cent in the first quarter, interest expenses proceeded to a 3 per cent decline year-on-year at half-year.
Accelerating interest income and a decline in interest expenses enabled an increase of 17 per cent in net interest income from less than 5 per cent improvement at the end of 2019.
This marks the first reasonable improvement in revenue the bank is seeing since 2017. Last year ended with only a 2 per cent increase in gross income to a little over N181 billion. Revenue growth at half-year represents the highest in four years.
The retained strength in revenue is keeping the bottom line on the upbeat at which the bank began the year in the first quarter.
Profit improvement remains quite good at 29 per cent year-on-year for FCMB at half-year – still one of the best growth records in the banking sector. This is an accelerating growth from the 16 per cent profit improvement at the end of 2019.
The ability to convert revenue into profit improved both on a year-on-year basis and from the 2019 closing mark.
At the end of half-year, the net profit margin stretched out from 8.4 per cent in the same period last year and from 9.5 per cent at the end of 2019 to 10 per cent.
This is a step back, however, from 11 per cent in the first quarter but yet remains the highest net profit margin for the bank since 2015.
The bank’s operating strength for the 2020 financial year is anchored on growing revenue and improving profit margin. The strength to grow profit more than two and a half times as fast as revenue at half-year points to a reasonable cost saving achieved by management. This came from a decline in interest expenses and a moderated operating cost during the period.
The loss in the first quarter of a key strength of last year – which is a drop in net loan impairment expenses for the third straight year, remained in place at half-year.
Loan loss expenses rose by close to 41 per cent to N7.8 billion at the end of June 2020. The increase follows an increase of 13 per cent in the loan portfolio last year and by another 10 per cent over the first half of the current financial year to N795 billion.
Half-year operations ended with gross earnings of slightly over N98 billion for FCMB, an accelerated growth from 2.3 per cent at the end of 2019 to 9 per cent year-on-year. This marks the first reasonable improvement in revenue since 2017.
An improvement of 8 per cent in interest income to over N76 billion is one of the new strengths for FCMB in 2020.
This reflects the expansion of earning assets with loans and advances growing by N80 billion over the 2019 closing figure of N715 billion and investments rising by N60 billion to N300 billion over the same period. The second is a rebound in non-interest earnings that were a drag for the bank last year to N22 billion at the end of half-year.
At slightly N30.8 billion, interest expenses improved further its disciplined behaviour – declining by 3 per cent against an increase of 4 per cent in the first quarter. The share of interest income devoted to interest expenses went down from 45 per cent to 40 per cent over the review period. The result is an increase of 17 per cent in net interest income to over N45 billion at half-year.
FCMB closed the half-year operations in June 2020 with an after-tax profit of N9.7 billion, an increase of 29 per cent year-on-year. The bank is maintaining the path of growing profit for the third consecutive year since it lost 40 per cent of profit in 2017.
Earnings per share amounted to 49 kobo at the end of half-year operations, improving from 38 kobo per share in the same period last year.
The ability to maintain an elevated performance in earnings through the economic lockdown in the second quarter is a bullish point for FCMB going forward to the second half.
The bank is expected to retain the key strengths of growing revenue, moderating interest expenses, and improving profit margin to stay the course of rebuilding profit for the third straight year in 2020.
Experts Foresees NGX Technology Board Deepening Capital Market
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Experts in the Nigerian financial markets have expressed optimism about the proposed NGX Technology Board’s positive impact on the capital market and the economy.
The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited plans to establish this platform to attract the listing of technology companies, giving them an avenue to raise funds to expand their operations.
On Thursday, October 6, 2022, the exchange held a seminar themed Enabling the Next Wave of Growth for Technology Companies in Africa. It was held to allow stakeholders to discuss ways to make things better for players in the sector.
Speakers at the event included the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Digital Transformation, Mr Oswald Osaretin Guobadia; Kendall Ananyi, Chief Executive Officer, Tizeti; Vice President, Cardinalstone, Mrs Onyebuchim Obiyemi; CEO, Opay, Mr Olu Akanmu; Managing Director, Nigerian Capital Market Institute, Timi Agama; Head, Financial Markets Support and Development Division, Financial Markets Department, CBN, Mr Demenongu J. Yanfa; and President, Pension Funds Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), Oguche Agudah.
Others were the CEO, Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, Jalo Waziri; Partner, Fund the Gap Alliance, Segun Cole; Associate Dean, Lagos Business School, LBS, Prof. Olayinka David-West; Representative of London Stock Exchange and Director, Tech Sector Specialist, Shah Neil; Co-Founder/COO, One Watt Solar Director, Jubril Adeojo; CEO Future Africa, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Chief Growth officer, Halo Invest, Nnenna Onyewuchi.
In his remarks, the Chairman of NGX, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, represented by NGX board member, Mrs Angela Adebayo, said that Nigeria is home to several unicorns like Flutterwave, Andela, Jumia, Opay which have valuations surpassing $1 billion.
“As a sustainable exchange championing Africa’s growth, NGX is positioned to support the growth of the next wave of technology companies.
“It is stimulating the capital market, providing a tailored platform for tech companies in Nigeria and wider Africa to access growth capital whilst providing exit opportunities for all investors.
“The next wave of growth for home-bred technology companies needs to be anchored on sustainability, agility, collaboration and digital innovation, and these are elements that NGX represents,” he said.
Director-General of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Lamido Yuguda, represented by Dayo Obisan, Executive Commissioner, Operations, SEC, while delivering his goodwill message, noted that with the several developments recorded in the technology space, Africa remains a continent with the highest potential when it comes to tech and innovations and as such, its ability to determine its future digitally must be accelerated by strengthening its technological capabilities.
According to him, “Africa has the potential to grow into a technological giant with the right enablement, and SEC will support laudable initiatives aimed at improving on the capacity of our market to develop a robust ecosystem for the Nigerian capital market.”
Also, the CEO of NGX, Mr Temi Popoola, while speaking on the proposed NGX Technology Board, said, “The exchange, in conjunction with other major stakeholders, including SEC, CBN, CSCS and PenOp, are working tirelessly to launch and on-board a new asset class.
“The specialised technology board aims to encourage the listing of companies in the technology space, provide increased transparency, and visibility on foreign investment activities in tech companies and local tech startups.”
Giving the keynote address, the Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability Directorate, CBN, Mrs Aisha Ahmad, noted that tech had grown from an enabler of business to a fully-fledged sector as some of the largest companies in the world like Meta and Google.
“Africa is a $2.7 trillion economy, and for this growth to translate into broader economic impacts, we need more local investor participation. I’m particularly excited about NGX’s Technology Board plan, which will help grow the listings of Nigerian and African tech companies. It will aid price discovery of tech industry valuations and channel capital to tech and other sectors,” she said.
Panellists at the first panel titled The Path to Tech Listings – Leveraging Capital Market for Exponential Growth agreed that the proposed launch of NGX Technology Board is timely as it addresses challenges startups face with funding and capital formation during their developmental stage.
Additionally, they noted that having major stakeholders like NGX, SEC and CBN champion the Board would attract foreign investor participation, especially in terms of liquidity.
The second panel, themed Beyond Tech – Regulation as an Enabler for Technology Board Listings and Investor Protection, highlighted policies and the right standards as key factors in creating an enabling environment for tech listings and investor protection.
The panellists noted that regulators should be concerned about the companies listed, the governance structure, evaluations, returns and their positive impact on Nigeria’s economy, such as introducing new founders to the market and creating employment for Nigerians.
Helicarrier Acquires Stake in Accrue to Drive Crypto, Stock Investment
By Adedapo Adesanya
Helicarrier, the owning company of Buycoins and Sendcash, has announced that it has completed the signing of definitive agreements to acquire a significant equity interest in Accrue.
As part of this agreement, Buycoins Basic will be transitioning into Accrue effective immediately.
This means Buycoins Basic will now be onboarded on Accrue and position the company for more growth as it pursues cryptocurrency acceptance and adoption in Africa while helping users to grow their wealth with low-risk investment options.
Mr Timi Ajiboye, CEO of Helicarrier, said, “Embarking on this partnership underscores our dedication to democratising wealth building on the continent. Accrue has built the perfect wealth-building tool for the internet-powered African, and we’re excited to bring that experience to 100k+ Buycoins users.”
In a statement sent to customers and seen by Business Post, Helicarrier and Accrue have a long history together as the company was the first investor in Accrue, which ex-Helicarrier teammates founded.
“The mission to help Africans build wealth by leveraging transformational digital currency technology is a shared driving force for both companies,” the statement read.
On his part, Mr Clinton Mbah, co-founder of Accrue, noted that, “Everything you love about Helicarrier culture and its products — ease of use, timely customer support, fantastic product sense, execution speed, technical chops, and tenacity in the face of adversity, are tenets we brought over to Accrue. We’re committed to these tenets forever.”
Accrue is a long-term wealth-building app built for beginners to invest. Users can save in Dollars (stablecoins), earn up to 6 per cent annual interest, and auto-invest in top-performing stocks and cryptocurrencies with minimal risk and likelier profit.
Accrue is available for users across Ghana and Nigeria, with support for more African countries coming soon.
Helicarrier, founded in 2017, has several interests in the African fintech space, and its products include Buycoins Pro, the order book for advanced crypto traders, Sendcash which lets users send money to and from Africa easily powered by crypto for the best exchange rates and fastest delivery times.
Helicarrier also owns significant equity in other pioneering products like Abacus.
Inflation in Nigeria Will Remain High Through 2023—S&P
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A rating company, S&P Global Ratings, has projected that inflation in Nigeria will remain high through 2023 as a result of rising energy prices and tensions in the food-producing regions of the country, majorly the northern part.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last month said inflation increased by 20.52 per cent in August 2022, forcing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to increase the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 1.50 per cent to 15.5 per cent from 14.0 per cent.
For S&P, the central bank may have to continue to hike the rates because inflation will continue to face north till next year unless the government takes action to ease the energy crisis and insecurity in the country.
“Rising production costs for the corporate sector, due to high energy prices, and tensions in the food-producing middle belt, will likely keep inflation in double digits through 2023,” the agency said in a statement made available to Business Post.
In the disclosure, the firm warned that Nigerian banks could see a decline in their earnings. It further said the lenders could suffer weaker lending growth and asset quality due to the rate hike by the apex bank.
S&P further disclosed that the increase in the cash reserve ratio to 33.5 per cent from 27.5 per cent last month by the CBN could likely lead to a freeze in lending in the short term and squeeze net interest margins, especially if raised higher.
It was also stated that the harsh macroeconomic situation in Nigeria would deplete banks’ earnings as non-performing loans (NPLs) increase and net interest margins decline.
“We expect the banking sector’s NPL ratio will deteriorate to 5.5 per cent on average in 2022 after improving to 5 per cent at year-end 2021, while the return on equity moderates to 13 per cent from 14 per cent,” the agency said.
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