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Economy

MTN Raises Fears Over FX Liquidity Crisis in Nigeria

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MTN Group

By Dipo Olowookere

For the most part of 2020, Nigeria has been battling with a serious liquidity crisis in the foreign exchange (FX) market.

This was mainly caused by the decline in the prices of crude oil at the international market. Nigeria, which is the largest market in Africa, relies heavily on the black gold for its foreign earnings.

As a result, when the price of crude oil is exposed to cold, Nigeria, which is the biggest producer of the commodity on the continent, shivers and when things get better, the country flourishes.

In the year, the Brent crude oil, under which Nigeria’s grade is priced, has traded as low as $20 and this made the federal government to adjust the crude oil benchmark for the year in the budget to $28 per barrel. At the moment, the oil is sold at above $40 per barrel.

This year, in order to manage the liquidity crisis, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has had to devalue the Naira two times, though it called it a readjustment of the local currency. Before the two actions, the apex bank had said it was not going to devalue the Nigerian currency. The first devaluation was from N306/$1 to N360/$1 and the second was from N360/$1 to N379/$1.

MTN Nigeria, which is one of the companies in the country which needs forex for its business operations, has expressed worry about the situation.

A few days ago, the company released its financial statements for the period ended September 30, 2020, and its chief executive, Mr Ferdi Moolman, said the issue will continue to pose a threat to the business.

“Despite the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, the operating environment remains challenging. We will continue to build on our operational and financial resilience and execute on our strategy to position the business for sustained growth over the medium and long term.

“The availability of foreign exchange remains a constraint even as we strive to minimise its impact on the business,” Mr Moolman said while commenting on the company’s Q3 performance.

MTN Nigeria, which trades its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), is the biggest telco in the country. In the first nine months of the year, it grew its revenue by 13.9 per cent to N975.8 billion from N856.6 billion, with voice revenue accounting for N645.5 billion versus N628.3 billion in the same period of last year.

However, its profit after tax went down by 3.3 per cent to N144.2 billion from N149.2 billion in Q3 of 2019 largely due to the 19.5 per cent rise in expenses to N478.0 billion from N400.1 billion, 9.1 per cent year-on-year jump in EBITDA to N497.9 billion from N456.4 billion and a 32.9 per cent increase in the net finance costs to N95.4 billion from N71.8 billion.

Business Post reports that shares of MTN Nigeria rose on the local exchange on Friday by N4 or 2.86 per cent to N144 per unit.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

Nigerian Exchange Rises 0.23% as Investors Mop up Bank Stocks

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Nigerian Exchange 1

By Dipo Olowookere

The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited extended its gains on Friday with a 0.23 per cent growth on the back of a sustained interest in bank stocks.

Business Post observed that investors mopped up equities of tier-one lenders yesterday and this buying pressure further lifted the All-Share Index (ASI) of the exchange by 88.15 points to 38,962.28 points from the previous day’s 38,874.13 and pushed the market capitalisation higher by N46 billion to N20.300 trillion from N20.254 trillion.

The market breadth was positive during the session as there were 25 price gainers and 11 price losers, indicating a positive investor sentiment.

Pharma Deko topped the gainers’ chart after its equity price went up by 9.74 per cent to N2.14. Sovereign Trust Insurance grew by 8.70 per cent to 25 kobo, Okomu Oil rose by 5.77 per cent to N110.00, Eterna appreciated by 4.95 per cent to N7.00, while Champion Breweries moved up by 4.71 per cent to N2.00.

On the reverse side, SCOA Nigeria topped the log with a price decline of 9.38 per cent to settle at 87 kobo. Presco went down by 8.18 per cent to N73.00, Regency Alliance fell by 6.38 per cent to 44 kobo, Total Energies depreciated by 3.61 per cent to N192.00, while Sterling Bank depleted by 1.34 per cent to N1.47.

A look at the performance of the five key sectors of the market showed that the banking space closed 1.86 per cent higher, the insurance sector rose by 0.27 per cent, the consumer goods counter appreciated by 0.06 per cent, while the energy index grew by 0.04 per cent, with the industrial goods sector closing flat.

The most traded stock on Friday was FBN Holdings as investors exchanged 481.5 million units valued at N3.6 billion.

Ecobank traded 16.6 million units worth N87.8 million, Zenith Bank transacted 12.0 million units valued at N279.0 million, Access Bank exchanged 11.6 million units worth N100.9 million, while Transcorp sold 9.4 million units for N8.7 million.

At the close of business, a total of 633.5 million shares worth N6.5 billion were traded in 3,228 deals as against the 125.8 million shares worth N1.3 billion transacted in 2,990 deals on Thursday, indicating a 403.61 per cent rise in the trading volume, a 409.36 per cent growth in the trading value and a 7.96 per cent jump in the number of deals.

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Economy

FX Demand Pressure Crashes Naira by N1.22 at I&E

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Nigerian Naira

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira came under immense pressure on Friday against the United States Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the foreign exchange (FX) market as more customers approach the banks for their forex needs.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had informed FX users to stop patronising traders at the unregulated segment of the market and use the I&E window for their forex transactions.

But it seems the traders at the official window are battling with FX supply as the demand pressure is taking its toll on the local currency, according to its performance yesterday.

Business Post reports that the domestic currency depreciated against the greenback on Friday by N1.22 or 0.30 per cent to close at N414.90/$1 compared with N413.68/$1 it was traded on Thursday.

It was observed that during the session, the value of trades increased by 10.1 per cent or $17.71 million to $193.59 million from the previous day’s $175.86 million.

At the interbank segment of the market, the value of the indigenous currency also depreciated by 3 kobo to settle at N410.70/$1 in contrast to N410.67/$1 it traded at the preceding session.

As for the digital currency market, there was a downward movement in eight of the 10 tokens monitored by this newspaper yesterday as only the duo of Cardano (ADA) and the United States Dollar Tether (USDT) appreciated at the market by 1.2 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively to settle at N1,374.04 and N576.01 apiece.

On the other hand, Ethereum (ETH) went down by 7.6 per cent to sell at N1,713,900.99, Litecoin (LTC) dipped by 6.6 per cent to trade at N86,848.72, while Dash (DASH) fell by 5.8 per cent to N97,992.14.

Also, Tron (TRX) declined by 3.9 per cent to finish at N53.39, Ripple (XRP) lost 3 per cent to trade at N559.99 Dogecoin (DOGE) depreciated by 2.4 per cent to trade N125.90, while Bitcoin (BTC) reduced by 1.9 per cent to close at N24,809,058.00.

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Economy

Brent Climbs Above $78 as Supply Tightens

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Brent Price

By Adedapo Adesanya

Brent crude oil rose above $78 a barrel on Friday, precisely to $78.09 per barrel after it appreciated by 1.09 per cent or 84 cents as global output disruptions forced energy companies to pull out large amounts of crude inventories.

Also during the session, the price of the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures improved by 0.63 per cent or 93 cents to finish at $73.98 per barrel.

The Brent posted its highest value since October 2018, while the WTI since July 2021.

It was also the third week of gains for Brent and the fifth for WTI mostly due to US Gulf Coast output disruptions from Hurricane Ida in late August.

The market has been bullish since news of US crude stocks dropped to their lowest since October 2018 and the broader market received more clarity about the US Federal Reserve next policy moves.

After the US Fed signalled that it could begin tapering asset purchases as soon as November and potentially start raising interest rates as soon as next year, oil market participants turned their focus to global oil inventories, especially those in the United States.

The aftermath of Hurricane Ida is still curtailing oil production in the world’s largest producer, with 16 per cent of crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico still offline, according to the latest data from the country’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

The market also gained as US oil refiners were hunting to replace Gulf crude, turning to Iraqi and Canadian oil while Asian buyers have been pursuing Middle Eastern and Russian grades, analysts and traders said.

Positives from one of the world’s biggest exporters, India helped the market as crude imports rose to a three-month peak in August, rebounding from July’s near one-year low.

And the fact that some members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) have struggled to raise output due to under-investment or maintenance delays during the pandemic also added to the bullish sentiment.

Iran, which wants to export more oil, said it will return to talks on resuming compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal very soon, but gave no specific date. The return of Iranian oil may be damaging to the market since it is exempted from OPEC cuts.

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