Nigerian Banks In Credit Crisis—Report

cbn-governor-emefiele

Says, Unity Bank, Skye Bank “Close to Being Insolvent”

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A report by Bloomberg on Monday has raised an alarm that some Nigerian banks may be fighting undercapitalisation crisis at the moment. Seven banks were said to be in this mess.

Two of the banks, Skye Bank and Unity Bank, are close to being insolvent, Bloomberg quoted Arqaam Capital as saying in the report.

It was said that the credit crunch is being caused by failed fiscal and monetary policies.

FBN Holdings Plc and Sterling Bank Plc “will need a dilutive capital hike,” Jaap Meijer and Tarek Sleiman, analysts at the Dubai-based investment bank and brokerage, said in an e-mailed note on Monday.

“Our acid test reveals seven under-capitalized banks” with a deficit of as much as N1 trillion ($3.2 billion) in the financial system, Meijer and Sleiman said.

A stress test identified FBN as the most under-capitalized lender with Unity, Diamond Bank Plc, Skye, FCMB Group Plc, Sterling and Fidelity Bank Plc also showing deficits if they were to fully provide for non-performing loans, according to Arqaam.

But spokesman for Diamond Bank, Mr Ikechukwu Mike Omeife, told Bloomberg that, “Our bank is strong,” adding that “Our capital-adequacy ratio and non-performing loans are within the statutory requirements.”

In July 2016, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) changed the management of Skye Bank after the lender breached liquidity thresholds, spurring concerns about the health of small- and medium-sized lenders, and reviving memories of bank rescues by the government after the financial crisis in 2009.

At the moment, banks in Nigeria are grappling with a devaluation of the Naira, rising bad loans and an oil-dependent economy that’s set to record its first annual contraction in more than two decades.

Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday that Nigeria’s five biggest banks share common credit challenges related to the economic slowdown. Moody’s expects non-performing loans to increase to about 12 percent over the next 12 months.

The ratio of non-performing loans to total credit rose to 11.7 percent at the end of June from 5.3 percent at the end of 2015, the Abuja-based Central Bank of Nigeria, which requires banks keep the measure below 5 percent, said in a report on its website.

The five largest lenders, which together hold 57 percent of the country’s banking assets, “are able to absorb all losses under our severe stress scenario,” Moody’s said.

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc showed “the greatest resilience” and the other four banks were Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., the ratings company said.

To create a capital buffer, Sterling Bank is planning to issue a 27 billion-naira bond and “if the interest rate looks better, we will do it this year,” Abubakar Suleiman, the lender’s chief financial officer, said by phone. “We will do it if the rate goes down to around 15 percent or 16 percent. We don’t want to raise it at a very high rate. If we do it, it will take our capital adequacy ratio to over 15 percent.”

Arqaam rates FBN, Skye, Sterling, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Unity and Ecobank Transnational Inc. as sell, according to the analysts’ report. Zenith, Access and United Bank are rated buy.

Central Bank of Nigeria’s spokesman Isaac Okorafor didn’t immediately answer his phone or respond to text messages. Diamond, Unity and Fidelity didn’t answer calls. Moses Obajemu, a Lagos-based spokesman for Skye, didn’t immediately reply to questions sent to him by text message, as per his request.

Diamond, Fidelity, Wema Bank Plc, FCMB Group Plc, United Bank and Skye recorded declines in Lagos, with Zenith ranking as the most traded stock among the 171 securities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index. Diamond Bank fell 5.5 percent, Fidelity dropped 4.3 percent, Skye Bank slid 4.6 percent and Unity slipped 4.1 percent. Union Bank Nigeria Plc, which is part owned by London-based Atlas Mara Ltd., was the second-biggest gainer, rising 5 percent.

Additional information from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-10/nigerian-banking-industry-seen-in-full-blown-financial-crisis

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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