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Moody’s Downgrades Dangote Cement Rating to B1

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Dangote Cement distributors

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The corporate family rating (CFR) of Dangote Cement Plc has been downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service to B1 from Ba3.

A statement issued by Moody’s said Dangote Cement’s probability of default rating was downgraded to B1-PD from Ba3-PD, but said the firm’s national scale rating (NSR) remains unaffected at Aaa.ng with outlook on the ratings still stable.

Explaining the reason it downgraded the cement producer’s ratings, Moody’s said it was as a result of the downgrade of Nigeria’s rating to B2 from B1.

“We have downgraded Dangote Cement because it is not totally immune from Nigeria’s continuing economic challenges which the country’s government has been slow in responding to,” stated Douglas Rowlings, Vice President, Senior Analyst and lead analyst for Dangote Cement Plc at Moody’s.

“But Dangote Cement’s rating is one notch above the Nigerian sovereign’s to reflect its resilient and strong credit profile and management’s continuing success in navigating Nigeria’s tough operating environment,” added Mr Rowlings.

Dangote Cement’s B1 CFR, one notch above the Government of Nigeria’s B2 rating considers the company’s stronger intrinsic credit quality balanced against the meaningful linkage and limited ability to withstand stress at the Nigerian sovereign or macroeconomic level.

The CFR also reflects the track record of demonstrated financial support from a larger and more diversified parent, Dangote Industries Limited (DIL).

This affords additional parent level financial strength by being part of a broader diversified group of companies under the DIL umbrella, the rating agency said.

Dangote Cement has a very strong credit profile, and would likely be rated higher without its linkage with Nigeria, in part because of its leverage which registered 1.3x gross debt/EBITDA for the last 12 months ended September 30, 2017, Moody’s said in a statement issued on November 10, 2017.

This is significantly low relative to global peers, even those rated investment grade. The strong standalone profile also incorporates high operating margins trending above 50%; high interest coverage as measured by EBIT/interest expense trending above 8x over the next 18 months; and conservative funding policies with debt funding matched to the currency of cash flow generation and prudent financial policies which will ensure sustenance of strong credit metrics through operating and project build cycles, it added.

The statement noted that Dangote’s sales and margins continue to benefit from the ongoing activity in the Nigerian economy.

Nevertheless Dangote remains at this stage strongly linked to Nigeria and its economy, with 89 percent of its EBITDA anchored in the country for the 9 months ended September 30, 2017.

Its investments in new plant capacity in other sub Saharan countries will provide more diversification in future but it will take several years before there is a meaningful diversification of revenue, profits and cashflows away from the Nigerian economy. Pan-African volumes expected to reach 40% of total sales volumes by 2020.

The ratings also factor in the relatively small scale level of cement production when compared to global peers along with production of 23.6 million tonnes (mt) for the Financial Year Ended (FYE) 31 December 2016; and a concentration of production in Nigeria, representing around 68% of revenues for the FYE 2016.

DCP’s ratings are further predicated upon a continuing growing cement market share of 65% in Nigeria as Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy where GDP is expected to reset to growth levels of around 2.5% in 2017 despite the ensuing low oil price environment; protected domestic production in the various African markets in which it operates, given on-going restrictions on imports; and competitive advantage brought about by an intention to always be the lowest cost cement producer in the markets where it operates, with a differentiated offering in Nigeria through access to low cost coal as an energy resource and a comprehensive fleet network, the statement further said.

Under Moody’s forecasts DCP’s liquidity profile is sufficient to meet the company’s cash needs over the next 12 months. Moody’s estimates that funds from operations generation of N641 billion ($1.8 billion) for the next 12 months and an unrestricted cash balance of N130 billion ($361 million) as of September 30, 2017 are sufficient to cover maintenance capex of N11 billion ($31 million), planned expansion capex of N198 billion ($550 million) and dividends of N254 billion ($705 million). Uncommitted expansion capex will require external funding.

This will be supported by DCP’s four committed trade finance facilities for a total amount of N130 billion ($401 million) to be used to cover import payments via issuance of letters of credit.

Additionally, DCP’s liquidity benefits from proven ongoing support from DIL. Although Moody’s does not expect that DCP would require liquidity support from DIL, the rating agency expects that this would be forthcoming if ever needed.

It stated that the stable ratings outlook reflects Moody’s expectation that DCP will continue to maximize output from existing plants outside Nigeria, while continuing to observe conservative financial policies. At the same time, the stable outlook assumes the ability to refinance maturing debt predominantly due to DIL through a Nigerian naira denominated bond issuance.

Moody’s said a downgrade of DCP’s rating would result if there was a move away from its conservative financial policies most notably its matching of the currency of its underlying cash flow generation to that of its debt commitments.

Downward pressure on the ratings could also arise should liquidity become pressured; adjusted debt to EBITDA trend above 4x; adjusted EBIT to interest expense trend below 2.5x; or operating margins fall below 20% on a sustained basis.

Any downward momentum on the Federal Government of Nigeria’s rating could also exert pressure on DCP’s ratings.

Similarly, the introduction of special taxes, levies or other punitive measures in respect of profits or cashflow by the government of Nigeria could put downward pressure on the ratings and/or outlook.

Upward pressure on the ratings is constrained by the Government of Nigeria’s local currency issuer rating of B2 as Moody’s considers a strong interlinkage with DCP’s ratings due to the high revenue contribution from its domestic operations which contains the company to be rated one rating level above the sovereign.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

Economy

US Markets May Give Back Ground In Early Trading

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US markets give back ground

By Investors Hub

The major US markets are currently pointing to a lower open on Wednesday, with stocks likely to give back ground after moving notably higher in the previous session.

Traders may look to cash in on some of yesterday’s gains, which came amid a positive reaction to comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

Powell acknowledged recent indications of easing inflation but noted that the disinflationary process has a long way to go and cautioned further interest rate hikes could be needed.

Overall trading activity may be somewhat subdued, however, with a relatively light economic calendar keeping some traders on the sidelines.

Reports on initial jobless claims and consumer sentiment are likely to attract attention in the coming days, with the consumer sentiment report including readings on inflation expectations.

Despite staying weak until noon and suffering a setback after a subsequent recovery, U.S. stocks closed on a buoyant note on Tuesday thanks to strong buying at several counters.

The major averages all ended with impressive gains. The Dow ended higher by 265.67 points or 0.8 per cent at 34,156.69. The S&P 500 closed up 52.92 points or 1.3 per cent at 4,164.00, and the Nasdaq surged 226.34 points or 1.9 per cent to 12,113.79.

A positive reaction to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks at the Economic Club of Washington lifted the market.

In a Q&A session at the Economic Club of Washington, Powell told Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein that he expects 2023 to be a year of “significant declines in inflation.”

Powell said inflation is beginning to ease, though he expects it to be a long process and cautioned that interest rates could rise more than markets expect if the economic data doesn’t cooperate.

“The disinflationary process, the process of getting inflation down, has begun, and it’s begun in the goods sector, which is about a quarter of our economy,” Powell said. “But it has a long way to go. These are the very early stages.”

Microsoft shares gained nearly 4 per cent. Boeing surged 3.8 per cent, and Chevron climbed 2.6 per cent.

Walt Disney, Merck, Travelers Companies, Apple, Intel, Salesforce.com, JP Morgan Chase, American Express, Goldman Sachs and Walgreens Boots Alliance also posted impressive gains.

Hertz climbed 7.5 per cent, and DuPont shares surged 7.8 per cent on stronger-than-expected results.

Verizon, Home Depot, P&G and Caterpillar ended weak. Chegg plunged more than 17 per cent after the company came out with disappointing guidance.

In economic news, data showed the US trade deficit widened to $67.4 billion in December 2022 from a downwardly revised $61.0 billion in November.

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Economy

Naira Swap: Governors Saved Nigeria from Needless Political, Economic Chaos

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Bola Tinubu saved Nigeria from needless political

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25, 2023, election, Mr Bola Tinubu, has praised Nigerian governors, especially those of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara States, for standing by the people of Nigeria.

On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court granted an interim injunction seeking to stop the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from banning the use of old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes as legal tender in the country from February 10.

In a statement issued by the Director of Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Bayo Onanuga, the former Governor of Lagos State, noted that the policy has subjected the masses to pains.

He stated that the Governors intervened and saved Nigeria from needless political and economic chaos and miseries, which have clearly become the unintended consequences of the monetary policy of the apex bank.

However, Mr Tinubu called on the CBN to ensure the execution of the Supreme Court ruling by taking all necessary steps to ensure sufficient availability of old and new Naira notes to citizens and properly sensitise the public on the ruling and the consequent validity of old Naira.

“I want to salute the courage of our Governors and most especially the Progressives Governors in APC who acted to save our country from avoidable and dangerous political crises and social unrest which the Central Bank policy on new Naira notes has brought on our country.

“Our country was dangerously careering toward anarchy and political and economic shutdown. But with the Supreme Court interim ruling, our country has been pulled back from the precipice. We thank our Supreme Court Justices for ruling wisely on the side of the people who have been subjected to undue agony and pain since this policy was announced.

“The Federal Government and relevant stakeholders can now sit down and work out a better framework on how to proceed with the new policy without causing any social and economic disruption and inconvenience to our people. We have examples of other countries that have successfully and seamlessly changed their currencies to learn from.

“Those countries give a long time, at least 12 months, to effect the currency change. They do not engage in a CBN-like fire brigade approach.

“We have seen how a good policy can be poorly implemented to cause unintended problems for the people who should be the beneficiaries. While lessons have been learnt, we must now move on as a country and people with a Renewed Hope for a better tomorrow.

“The sole aim of my running to be the president of our country is to make life better and more abundant for our people, and this is an ideal to which I will remain eternally committed,” he said.

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Economy

Nigeria Records Highest Crypto Ownership, Use in 2022

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crypto ownership

By Adedapo Adesanya

A new research has revealed that Nigeria topped the countries with the highest rate of cryptocurrency use and ownership in 2022.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, clinched the top spot, with almost half the population having used or owned cryptocurrency.

The study, conducted by an online casino guide Trading Browser, analysed data on crypto ownership and usage. The ranking was done via the percentage of the population that reported that they used or owned cryptocurrency each year from 2019 to 2022.

Nigeria tops the list, with 45 per cent of the population using or owning cryptocurrency in 2022. The nation boasts over 90 million people using cryptocurrency – that’s almost 150 per cent higher than the population of the United Kingdom.

From 2019 to 2022, Nigeria saw a 17 per cent total increase in ownership and use from 28 per cent to 45 per cent, equating to over 34 million people adopting cryptocurrency over the three years.

Coming in second place is Thailand. The Southeast Asian country has a massive 44 per cent of its population reporting to using or owning cryptocurrency – equal to just over 30 million people.

Despite being dwarfed by some of the other contenders on the list, Thailand has the biggest uptake in ownership and usage, with a huge 21 per cent increase from 23 per cent to 44 per cent. That’s equal to 14.6 million people, just over one in five of the population of the country, which is the highest percentage of the top ten.

The number three spot belongs to Turkey. The transcontinental country has 40 per cent of its population owning and using cryptocurrency in 2022, equal to over 33 million people. The adoption of cryptocurrency has doubled from 20 per cent to 40 per cent amongst the population from 2019 to 2022 – over 16 million people. This increase from 2019 to 2022 places Turkey second in terms of cryptocurrency uptake.

The first South American country on the list, Argentina, comes in fourth with an ownership and usage rate of 35 per cent in 2022 – almost 16 million people. This may well change in the near future, though, with several draft laws aimed at institutionalising and regulating various aspects of digital assets and the virtual currency industry.

In fifth place comes the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is hot on the heels of Argentina, with 34 per cent of the population owning or using cryptocurrency in 2022 – just over one in three people of the almost 10 million population.

Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, said in a recent interview with Bloomberg that a key area the UAE is looking to expand into, is cryptocurrencies. So, this might well mean that the 34 per cent figure is set to increase over the coming years.

The remainder of the top ten features the Philippines in sixth place with 29 per cent (15 million) of its population using or owning cryptocurrency. Vietnam is in seventh place with 27 per cent of the population, equalling just over 26 million people using or owning cryptocurrency.

Surprisingly, in joint eighth place, the country with the highest population in the top ten, India, is matched with the country with the lowest population in the top ten, Singapore. Both nations have a rate of 25 per cent of the population owning or using cryptocurrency in 2022, over 341 million and almost 1.5 million, respectively.

In ninth place is Brazil. The second South American country of the top ten has the lowest rate of cryptocurrency ownership and use at only 24 per cent – just over 51 million of the population. Last place in the top ten is South Africa, with a usage and ownership ship of 23 per cent, working out to over 13 million people.

Surprisingly, the United States ranks 22nd on the list, with only 16 per cent of the population owning or using cryptocurrency. That’s equivalent to just over one in six people. The United Kingdom ranks even lower, coming in at 50th place with only 11 per cent of the country owning or using cryptocurrency – equal to just over 7 million people.

Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson for Trading Browser said, “The information presented in the data offers valuable perspectives on the industry’s current status, specifically emphasizing the increasing adoption of digital assets worldwide. It is positive to observe various countries making strides in terms of cryptocurrency regulation and infrastructure. It is hoped that this data will contribute to the further development and widespread acceptance of digital assets.”

The study was conducted by Trading Browser, a one-stop solution for cryptocurrency traders and investors. They have a dedicated team of experienced crypto professionals on hand to guide and help people through cryptocurrency trading. They also provide information on the market, best practices for trading, and useful tools and resources for making informed decisions.

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