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Economy

Seplat Wins Appeal to Unseal Headquarters, Pays N7.6bn Bond

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Seplat NSE

By Dipo Olowookere

An indigenous energy firm trading its securities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Seplat Petroleum Development Company, has won its appeal to unseal its corporate headquarters in Lagos.

Last month, another publicly listed company, Access Bank Plc, secured an interim order from a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to seal the head office of Seplat over a debt owed by another organisation, Cardinal Drilling Services Limited, which the lender claimed Seplat has an interest in.

Seplat approached the Lagos division of the appeal court to upturn this judgement, claiming since its headquarters was sealed, it has been unable to operate and meet its obligations, including supplying gas to three power plants that generate almost 40 per cent of power supply in Nigeria.

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At the hearing, counsel to Seplat, Mr Etigwe Uwa (SAN), maintained that the company had no connection whatsoever with the loan in issue or the debenture with which it was secured and that the high court was wrong to have issued the order sealing the organisation’s premises.

The legal practitioner explained that the loan agreements evidenced by letters of offer of the credit facility were all between Diamond Bank Plc. (now Access Bank Plc.) and Cardinal Drilling Services Limited, while the three Deeds of Debenture to the loan were over specific and fixed assets of Cardinal Drilling viz four Drilling Rigs set out in the schedules of the three Deeds of Debenture.

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He, therefore, urged the court to order the reopening of Seplat headquarters to allow for smooth operations.

However, Access Bank rejected this, arguing that overturning the interim order would amount to dabbling into the substantive issues that ought to be determined while hearing the main appeal.

But the judge, Justice Joseph Shagbaor Ikyegh, described the fears of Access Bank as “unfounded,” pointing out that “the Supreme Court has held that where machines and workers would be rendered useless, the court would intervene.”

“Disruption of business should be considered in the issue of balance of convenience. The court will exercise its discretion in suspending the injunction.

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“Practical approach should be adopted and not do injustice to any of the parties.

“Where considerable hardship will be done to a party, the court will intervene by suspending the injunction or stay it.

“I found substance in the argument. The injunction restraining the appellant from operating is hereby suspended.

“Order on its accounts are also lifted pending the determination of the appeal,” the judge held.

He, therefore, asked Seplat issue a N7.6 billion ($20 million at N381/$1) in the name of the court’s Chief Registrar as part of the conditions to unseal the office.

Additional information from ThisDay

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

NewGold ETF Attracts N4.41bn from Offshore Investors

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Newgold Issuer Limited ETF

By Dipo Olowookere

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) space in Nigeria has continued to attract more offshore investors as it has remained as an avenue for them to diversify their investment portfolios.

Business Post reports that the demand for the form of investment asset has remained high despite foreign exchange (FX) restrictions in the country.

Recall that a month ago, this newspaper reported that foreign portfolio investors use this means to convert their Naira assets into Dollar as the nation grapples with forex liquidity.

Recently, the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited released its quarterly report on the ETFs market for Q2 and it was revealed that foreign transactions increased by 99.64 per cent even as 10 stockbrokers drove 99.9 per cent of total transaction value and 97.3 per cent of total volumes of ETFs.

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It was observed that the NewGold ETF was the most active with its value rising by 99.58 per cent to N4.41 billion, taking the lead in both value and volume traded.

The report showed that offshore investors traded 524.241 units of NewGold valued at N4.41 billion, while Vetiva Griffin 30 followed with 501,48 units worth N8.12 million.

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In addition, Vetiva Industrial Goods transacted 248,469 units valued at N4.52 million, Meristem Value ETF sold 115,58 units valued at N1.87 million, while Stanbic IBTC ETF traded 19,774 units valued at N1.48 million.

Analysis of the report showed that Rencap led in terms of brokers’ performance as regards value, retaining its top position in this category, having traded about 69.7 per cent.

RMB followed, accounting for 12.72 per cent while ABSA Securities accounted for 9.04 per cent of transactions.

On the other hand, Vetiva led in terms of volume, accounting for 31.55 per cent in the period under review. Rencap followed with 24.9 per cent while IONE accounted for 14.66 per cent volume of transactions.

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However, market capitalisation declined by a record 39.7 per cent between both quarters as the commodity-backed ETP suffered net outflows of 54 per cent, from N12.0 billion in Q1 2021 to N5.5 billion in Q2 2021, due to FX restrictions in the regulatory climate.

Furthermore, trade volumes fell by approximately 69 per cent from about 5.3 million units in Q2 2020 to 1.6 million units in Q2 2021.

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Economy

CBN Gives Nearly 4 million Farmers N756.5bn

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Ghana peasant farmers

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday said it has disbursed N756.5 billion to nearly 4 million (approximately 3,734,938) smallholder farmers cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land to improve food security in the country.

The development was revealed by CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emiefele, while presenting the communiqué of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.

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According to the CBN boss, a total number of 627,051 farmers were granted N120.2 billion for the 2021 wet season under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to cultivate 847,484 hectares of land.

“Under the bank’s development finance initiatives, the bank granted N756.5 billion to 3,734,938 smallholder farmers cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, of which N120.2 billion was extended for the 2021 wet season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the ABP,” Mr Emefiele said.

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Furthermore, the apex bank said a total of N121.6 billion has been shared among 32,617 beneficiaries under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).

Mr Emiefele also disclosed that the bank has released N318.2 billion to 679,422 beneficiaries for the targeted credit facility.

These beneficiaries, as said by the CBN chief, includes 572,189 individuals and 107,233 small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).

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Meanwhile, the committee reviewed the domestic economic developments and noted that the non-oil sector, agriculture and industry sub-sectors were the major drivers of improvement as it recorded growth rates of 2.28 and 0.94 per cent, accordingly.

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Economy

Lafarge Africa Grows Net Sales to N145bn in Six Months

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Lafarge Africa

By Dipo Olowookere

One of the major cement manufacturers in Nigeria, Lafarge Africa Plc, has continued to show resilience in the face of various challenges caused by COVID-19.

On Thursday, the firm released its half-year earnings for 2021 and the results showed that the net sales grew by 20.3 per cent to N145.0 billion from N120.5 billion in the same period of 2020.

Business Post reports that the sale of cement accounting for N141.4 billion of the total revenue for the period versus N118.6 billion in H1 2020, while the sale of aggregates and concrete contributing N3.6 billion compared with N2.0 billion in the same period of last year.

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The financial statements revealed that the cost of sales gulped N97.0 billion as against N78.8 billion in the first six months of 2020, leaving the organisation with a gross profit of N48.0 billion compared with N41.7 billion in 2020, while the operating profit improved to N38.2 billion from N32.8 billion.

In the results, Lafarge Africa said it had selling and marketing costs of N1.5 billion, lower than N1.6 billion in the same time of last year and this was mainly due to a reduction in advertising expenses to N113.0 million from N182.5 million.

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However, the administrative costs rose to N9.2 billion from N7.8 billion as a result of the rise in salaries and other staff-related costs, office and general expenses, as well as technical service fees.

In the period, the cement firm recorded a decline in finance income, which stood at N362.9 million compared with N377.1 million, while the finance costs went down to N2.7 billion from N4.4 billion.

On the bottom line of the results, Lafarge Africa said it had a profit before tax of N36.8 billion in H1 2021 versus N28.8 billion in H1 2020, while the profit after tax jumped to N28.3 billion from N23.3 billion.

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The CEO of Lafarge Africa, Mr Khaled El Dokani, while commenting on the results, stated that, “Our performance remained resilient in Q2 2021, with net sales of 29.4 per cent, recurring EBIT of 11.1 per cent and net income of 25.7 per cent compared to the previous year.

“We are equally pleased with the progress we are making on sustainability; our use of affordable clean energy and our agroecology footprint is in accordance with the acceleration of our net-zero pledge”.

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