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Economy

Hapag-Lloyd Opens Lagos Office As Part of West African Expansion

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Hapag-Lloyd

By Adedapo Adesanya

Shipping giant, Hapag-Lloyd, has opened its new office in Lagos to tap into the many opportunities available in the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, Nigeria.

In a press statement released on Tuesday, the shipper noted that with the expansion, it hopes to play a crucial role in the container liner’s growth strategy on the continent, adding that its new office in will create further growth for the company and improve the country’s connection to the world.

According to Mr Vishal Bundhun, Managing Director Area West Africa at Hapag-Lloyd, “We are happy to welcome the new team and our country manager Florian Nittscher to the Hapag-Lloyd family!

“Via the Middle East India Africa Express (MIAX) and the Mediterranean West Africa Express (MWX), Nigeria is well-connected to the global Hapag-Lloyd network. With our new office, we move even closer to our customers in the region.”

On his part, Mr Dheeraj Bhatia, Senior Managing Director Region Middle East at Hapag-Lloyd, added that, “Hapag-Lloyd has been expanding its business steadily in West Africa over the past years. Our new office in Lagos will create further growth for us and will help us to even better connect Nigeria to the world.”

Nigeria is the economic powerhouse of West Africa. With large oil reserves and a growing middle class, the country imports everything from industrial machinery to electronic appliances. Nigeria’s main exports are cocoa beans, cashews, and other agricultural products.

In Lagos, Hapag-Lloyd calls at the ports Apapa and Tin Can Island. In order to offer its African customers consistently high service all over the continent, Hapag-Lloyd opened a dedicated Quality Service Center in Mauritius at the beginning of the year.

With a fleet of 239 modern container ships and a total transport capacity of 1.7 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), Hapag-Lloyd is one of the world’s leading liner shipping companies. The company has around 13,000 employees and 388 offices in 129 countries.

The shipper has a container capacity of approximately 2.6 million TEU – including one of the largest and most modern fleets of reefer containers. A total of 121 liner services worldwide ensure fast and reliable connections between more than 600 ports on all the continents. Hapag-Lloyd is one of the leading operators in the Transatlantic, Middle East, Latin America and Intra-America trades.

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

We’ll Sanction CMOs Frustrating e-Dividend Mandate Process—SEC

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E-Dividend Process

By Dipo Olowookere

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has threatened to sanction capital market operators (CMOs) found to be frustrating the e-dividend mandate process.

A few years ago, the agency, as part of efforts to find a solution to the perennial unclaimed dividend in the nation’s stock market, introduced the electronic registration and payment of the cash reward to the bank accounts of investors.

But despite this, some shareholders still find it difficult to get their return on investment because of some bottlenecks faced when processing the e-dividend mandate form.

Speaking at a post-Capital Market Committee (CMC) meeting press briefing webinar held Thursday, the Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, said there should be no reason why new investors should have issues receiving their dividends.

He assured that the agency will continue to work towards resolving any legacy issues with unclaimed dividends, appealing to all stakeholders to comply with all directives of the commission in this regard, as defaulters would be sanctioned appropriately

“There is no reason why there will be unclaimed dividends for new investors or newly-listed companies adding every investor should be promptly paid his/her dividends upon declaration and payment.

“The commission has observed that certain Capital Market Operators (CMOs) frustrate the e-dividend mandate process.

“We have observed that the growth in the number of mandated accounts has been on the decline for some time.

“The capital market community has directed its e-Dividend Committee to engage with the Committee of Heads of Banking Operations to encourage better cooperation from banks as we tackle the challenges of unclaimed dividends,” he said.

Mr Yuguda said the commission has exposed new rules on the implementation of the e-dividend mandate and treatment of unclaimed dividends, adding that SEC was monitoring compliance and will not hesitate to sanction erring operators.

Recall that two weeks ago, Business Post reported about the experience of shareholders in accessing their dividends because of how some registrars allegedly frustrate the process.

“For more than one year now, I have not been able to get my dividends despite submitting all the needed requirements to the registrars.

“I did my e-dividend processing through my stockbroker, Meristem Securities, and out of the about five or six they processed for me, Veritas [Registrars] has responded and has paid my Zenith Bank dividend.

“The others have not cleared up till this moment. This is not encouraging at all because it has almost killed my appetite for dividend stocks,” an investor in the stock market, Mr Aigbe Osas, had lamented to Business Post in a report that the unclaimed dividend of Dangote Cement had reached N4 billion as at December 31, 2020.

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Economy

FG to Supply Farmers Newly Released BT Cowpea

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BT Cowpea

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government, through the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), has announced that farmers would be supplied the newly released Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea (beans) for the 2021 planting season.

The Director-General of the agency, Mr Abdullahi Mustapha, disclosed this during the presentation of the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Media Award prizes to the recipients.

This follows the decision by the Varietal Release Committee, which approved the commercial release of the PBR cowpea which has been genetically modified for planting.

The NABDA DG said a National Stewardship Committee has been inaugurated to monitor the multiplication and distribution of the variety of the new beans.

“The recently released PBR cowpea will be getting to farmers this planting season, this stage of commercialisation requires the active involvement of the media to ensure that farmers get value for their money.

“It is also the duty of the media to monitor all the stages and channels, through which the PBR cowpea seeds reach the farmers to ensure that there is no compromise or sharp practice that will deny farmers the maximum benefit the technology offers.

“A National Stewardship committee to monitor the PBR Cowpea has been inaugurated, I encourage you to work closely with the committee and inform Nigerians what is happening with the PBR cowpea,” Mr Mustapha stated.

He further said; “Our agricultural biotechnology in the country is fast developing as we, in collaboration with other research institutes, released Bt. cotton and Bt. cowpea.”

Mr Mustapha, therefore, charged on science journalists to avoid fake news, focus on factual news that promotes the deployment of technology in various aspects of development including agriculture especially, as Nigeria strategies on how to feed its teeming population.

He said at NABDA, the promotion, coordination, and deployment of cutting-edge biotechnology research and development, processes, awareness creation and products for the socio-economic well-being of the nation shall remain their priority.

In her remarks, the Country Coordinator of OFAB, Mrs Rose Gidado, explained that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the recipients of the award were unable to get their prizes because they attend the event which was held in Nairobi, Kenya virtually.

She called for more support from the journalists as Nigeria is entering its first phase of commercialisation of genetically modified crops.

“We will continue to seek your partnership and your cooperation, I know you have supported us so well till this time, we need you more than ever, because this is the critical time because of the commercialisation that has started in Nigeria on BT Cotton and BT cowpea,” she added.

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Economy

SEC Approves VFD Group N4.1bn Rights Issue

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VFD Group

By Adedapo Adesanya

The proposed rights issue of a proprietary investment company, VFD Group Plc, has received clearance from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The firm plans to raise about N4.1 billion from the exercise with the sale of 7,452,054 ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N556 per share on the basis of one share for every 16 shares held.

The VFD Group rights issue was approved by the board of directors of the company at its Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held last November.

Proceeds from the exercise would be used to finance the long-term strategic plan of VFD Group to harness the opportunities in selected companies that meet its investment criteria.

A statement from the company said its Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr Nonso Okpala, expressed gratitude to the regulatory body over the approval.

“Our expansion drive has been a long time coming and with this clearance, one of our immediate first steps is the enhancement of our systems and the integration of all our subsidiary offerings under a very effective and technological platform.

“We are focused on expanding further within the local financial services industry as well as on the African continent,” he disclosed.

VFD Group is a proprietary investment company that focuses on building positive and socially conscious ecosystems by aggregating potentially viable business with the objective of creating innovative products and solutions that are accessible to the everyday Nigerian citizen and entrepreneur.

The firm was founded on the values of integrity and good governance, and built on the strength of innovation and network. Its goal is to establish a firm foothold in various ecosystems on the continent through their subsidiary companies.

The organisation operates through the various portfolio to provide innovative financial services – alternative funding and investment channels – that are accessible to individuals and small businesses that provide financial advisory, currency exchange, debt services, private funds management, asset management, real estate, international remittance/settlement.

VFD Group trades its securities on the floor of the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange and in the last one month, its value has increased by 224.5 per cent from N105.07 per share to N361.82 per share.

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Economy

FG Must End Monetary Rascality to Avert Economic Crisis—Obaseki

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Godwin Obaseki monetary rascality

By Dipo Olowookere

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has advised the federal government to put an end to what he called “monetary rascality” in order to avert an economic crisis.

Mr Obaseki was reacting to claims by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did not print N60 billion to share to state governments in March 2021 to augment the allocation disbursed last month.

Last week, at an event in Benin City, the Edo State capital, the Governor had revealed that due to a decline in revenue, the federal government printed between N50 and N60 billion to add to the funds to be shared by the three tiers of government.

His revelation caused many people to react as Mr Obaseki had warned that if care was not taken, by the end of this year, Nigeria would have debts worth over N15 trillion.

He had also warned that if efforts are not being made to rectify the various fiscal problems, the value of the Naira to the Dollar would hit N1,000, ostensibly at the black market.

As at the close of business yesterday, the local currency was exchanged against the American currency at N482/$1 at the parallel market and N410.50/$1 at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window and N379/$1 at the interbank segment.

On Wednesday, after the weekly federal executive council (FEC) meeting, the Finance Minister, while reacting to the comments attributed to Mr Obaseki, said there was no iota of truth in it.

She described the revelation by the Governor as “most unfortunate” because “it is not the truth.”

Mrs Ahmed explained that the funds shared last month by the federal accounts allocation committee (FAAC) were sourced from the various revenue-generating agencies like the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), amongst others.

But in his reaction on Thursday, Governor Obaseki, via a statement personally signed by him and posted on his verified Facebook page, said the Minister was being economical with the truth.

He advised Mrs Ahmed to “rally Nigerians to stem the obvious fiscal slide facing our country” because he believes that “it is imperative to approach the Nigerian project with all sense of responsibility and commitment and not play to the gallery because ultimately, time shall be the judge of us all.”

Mr Obaseki, who emphasised that he was not ready to “join issues with the Federal Ministry of Finance,” noted that “we believe it is our duty to offer useful advice for the benefit of our country.”

“Rather than play the Ostrich, we urge the government to take urgent steps to end the current monetary rascality, so as to prevent the prevailing economic challenge from degenerating further,” he submitted.

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Economy

NASD Exchange Extends Rally to Seventh Trading Session

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NASD Exchange bullish

By Adedapo Adesanya

The first trading day of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group on the floor of the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange closed bullish.

The stock joined forces with the Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc to help the unlisted securities market to extend its gains to the seventh consecutive day, rising by 0.28 per cent.

NGX Group joined the exchange on Tuesday at a unit price of N25 but yesterday, its value rose by 2.4 per cent or 59 kobo to close at N25.59 per unit.

On its part, CSCS gained 30 kobo or 3 per cent to settle at N16.55 per unit as against N16.25 per unit it was transacted on Tuesday.

At the end of the day’s trading, the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) gained 2.11 points to finish at 766.78 points in contrast to 764.67 points it ended a day earlier.

In the same trend, the bourse’s market capitalisation closed at N545.03 billion after it increased by N1.5 billion. At the preceding session, it finished at N543.53 billion.

A total of 4.3 million shares were transacted yesterday, 100.7 per cent higher than the 2.1 million units traded on Tuesday, while securities worth N108.8 million exchanged hands, 406.9 per cent higher than N21.5 million recorded on Tuesday.

These transactions were carried out in 56 deals, 1,300 per cent higher than the four deals recorded previously and a chunk of them were executed on NGX Group, 42 deals.

Afriland Properties Plc accounted for eight deals, CSCS Plc recorded three deals, Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc made two deals, while FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc executed a day.

At the close of business, UBN Property Plc remained as the most active stock by volume on a year-to-date basis for transacting 21.9 million units valued at N24.6 million. CSCS Plc trailed for trading 9.1 million units worth N141.9 million, while NGX Group sold 4.1 million units worth N105.7 million.

In terms of the most active stock by value (year-to-date), NDEP Plc remained on top with 2.2 million units worth N695.0 million, Friesland followed with 3.5 million units worth N435.4 million, and VFD Group Plc, which has traded 1.3 million valued at N219.6 million.

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Economy

Naira Trades N410.50/$1 at I&E as Selloffs Hit Cryptos

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Naira to Dollar Exchange rate

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira appreciated by 0.12 per cent or 50 kobo against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange market on Wednesday, April 14.

According to data obtained from the FMDQ Securities Exchange, the value of the Naira closed at N410.50/$1 yesterday in contrast to N411/$1 it closed on Tuesday.

One of the major reasons for the strengthening of the local currency at the market segment at the midweek trading session was due to ease in the pressure on the Naira.

Yesterday, FX worth $21.92 million were transacted at the I&E window, $31.41 million or 58.90 per cent lower than the $53.33 million transacted at the preceding session.

At another segment of the market, the unregulated parallel market, the local currency maintained its stability against the greenback as it closed flat at N482/$1.

However, the Naira was unlucky against both the British Pound Sterling and the Euro, depreciating by N2 against the former to trade at N672/£1 compared with the previous day’s N670/$1 and also lost N2 against the latter to settle at N572/€1 versus the previous compared to N570/$1.

At the interbank segment, where government FX transactions are benchmarked, the exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar remained unchanged at N379/$1.

Profit-Taking Depresses Cryptos

Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency market was bearish on Wednesday as selloffs dominated the space a day after it was bullish as a result of news that a trading exchange, Coinbase, listed on one of the US Stock Exchanges.

The significant rise recorded at the digital currency market caused profit-taking yesterday and this depressed the value of Bitcoin by 0.2 per cent to N31,389,353.

The Ripple (XRP) went down by 7.6 per cent to sell at N873.47; the Dash (DASH) depreciated by 2.0 per cent to N146,960.10; Tron (TRX) fell by 3.8 per cent to N72.14; while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) slid by 0.3 per cent to sell at N500.10.

However, the Ethereum (ETH) grew by 6.6 per cent to sell at N1,208,999.99; while Litecoin (LTC) appreciated by 0.1 per cent to trade at N137,000.

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The blockchain brings new financing options to the business market. For example, Bitcoin Cash casino has adapted to only using cryptocurrency. This way, it makes it easier for their customers to deposit and withdraw in a BCH casino. Entrepreneurs have taken note of this and are looking to invest more in crypto than in fiat markets.

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