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Union Bank CEO Buys Additional Shares Amidst Acquisition Rumour

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By Dipo Olowookere

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Union Bank of Nigeria, Mr Emeka Okonkwo, has increased his stake in the company by buying additional shares.

This is coming amidst rumour that some financial institutions are interested in acquiring the tier-2 lender, including two Nigerian tier-1 banks, Zenith Bank and Access Bank.

There had been speculations in recent times that Union Bank would soon have a new owner and Zenith Bank and Access Bank have been in the picture, though there had been denials.

Just a while ago, Bloomberg reported that banks from Africa and the Middle East have shown interests in taking over the 49.97 per cent stake Atlas Mara Group has in Union Bank.

Atlas Mara has been working with Rothschild & Co. to consider options for its Union Bank stake, but no final decisions have been made and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said.

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Business Post recalls that last month, Access Bank said it had a business deal with Atlas Mara for the acquisition of a 78.15 per cent shareholding its subsidiary, ABC Holdings Limited, has in African Banking Corporation of Botswana Limited (BancABC Botswana).

In the midst of these rumours, Mr Okonkwo believes whether Union Bank remains with Atlas Mara or not, Union Bank has a huge prospect in the Nigerian banking industry and it is a wise investment decision to increase his stake in the firm.

On Thursday, according to a disclosure from the lender, its CEO bought more stocks at a unit price of N4.90. He got an aggregate of 2,431,917 units.

Mr Okonkwo recently took over from the former CEO, Mr Emeka Enuwa and when he assumed office, he promised to deliver greater value to stakeholders of the bank, particularly the shareholders as he has been a part of the transformation team put together by his predecessor in the past eight years, which made it possible for Union Bank shareholders to be paid the first dividend in over a decade.

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“Over the past eight years, a significant amount of work has gone into building the Union Bank we see today and I am glad to have been a part of this process,” he said when he was given the honour of sounding the digital closing gong at the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited recently.

“As we move ahead, our focus remains to create greater value for all our stakeholders particularly our customers and shareholders,” the Union Bank CEO promised.

According to him, “We have a clear vision to be Nigeria’s most reliable and trusted partner and we will continue to drive customer acquisition and channel optimisation through reliable dig channels and self-service platforms.”

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“We will also continue to provide compelling and innovative products to drive customer transaction growth and service delivery, whilst deepening our relationship with key stakeholders including NGX Group as we move towards our goal,” the banker assured.

Will Union Bank acquisition favour Access Bank and Zenith Bank shareholders?

An analyst at Renaissance Capital, Mr Adesoji Solanke, informed THISDAY that, “We don’t think it’ll be a transformational deal for Access or Zenith (Return-on-Equity dilutive for both), but could be a good way for the Middle Eastern banks to get a decent foothold in the market.

“We suspect getting the other private equity investor block to sell will be critical as we wouldn’t expect a strategic bank investor to desire a minority shareholding.”

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

Profit Takers Drag ASI to 37,847.07 Points, Market Cap to N19.725trn

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By Dipo Olowookere

The All-Share Index (ASI) of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited depreciated by 1.81 per cent or 698.23 points on Tuesday to finish at 37,847.07 points as against 38,545.30 points it ended a day earlier.

This was majorly caused by the actions of profit takers, who pounced on the market to offload some stocks that have gained in the past few trading sessions.

This also affected the market capitalisation of the stock exchange, which reduced by N364 billion to finish at N19.725 trillion compared with N20.089 trillion it ended on Monday.

Business Post reports that the market breadth closed negative yesterday with 17 price gainers and 23 price losers led by Airtel Africa, which lost 10.00 per cent to close at N678.00.

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Mutual Benefits Assurance went down by 7.32 per cent to trade at 38 kobo, Cornerstone Insurance declined by 7.27 per cent to 51 kobo, Learn Africa depreciated by 648 per cent to N1.01, while Ikeja Hotel fell by 6.19 per cent to 91 kobo.

On the other side, Fidson shook off the bad performance of Monday to close as the best-performing stock by rising by 10.00 per cent to N5.06.

Vitafoam gained 9.68 per cent to trade at N13.60, Red Star Express appreciated by 9.55 per cent to N3.67, Veritas Kapital improved by 9.09 per cent to 24 kobo, while Courtville gained 5.00 per cent to quote at 21 kobo.

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The most traded stock of the day was Transcorp as it sold 42.4 million shares valued at N37.2 million. Vitafoam traded 20.1 million equities worth N271.6 million, Dangote Sugar exchanged 17.6 million stocks for N312.1 million, FBN Holdings sold 12.4 million equities valued at N88.5 million, while Access Bank traded 11.5 million shares for N98.4 million.

At the close of business, investors traded a total of 218.3 million stocks worth N2.7 billion in 3,524 deals compared with the 209.2 million equities worth N1.8 billion transacted in 3,390 deals on Monday, indicating increases in the trading volume by 4.33 per cent, trading value by 54.59 per cent and the number of deals by 3.95 per cent.

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In terms of the performance of the sectors yesterday, the energy and consumer goods sectors appreciated by 0.05 per cent and 002 per cent respectively, while the industrial goods, insurance and banking counters depreciated by 1.13 per cent, 0.39 per cent and 0.07 per cent apiece.

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Economy

Local Currency Gains N1.67 Against Dollar at I&E

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira strengthened against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange market on Tuesday.

Business Post reports that during the session, the local currency appreciated by N1.67 or 0.4 per cent to close the session at N410/$1 in contrast to the previous session’s N410.67/$1.

It was observed that the domestic gained this strength despite coming under a significant FX demand pressure at the market segment.

Yesterday, the I&E recorded a turnover of $169.07 million, 79.5 per cent or $74.9 million higher than the $94.17 million recorded on Monday.

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At the parallel market, the value of the Naira paired with the American Dollar remained unchanged yesterday at N500/$1.

But against the Pound Sterling, the domestic depreciated by N3 at the black market to sell for N713/£1 compared with N710/£1 it traded a day earlier.

Also, the Naira lost N3 against the Euro at the unregulated segment of the market to trade at N595/€1 in contrast to N592/£1 of the earlier day.

At the interbank segment of the market, the Nigerian currency appreciated against the American currency by one kobo to quote at N410.19/$1 versus N410.20/$1 it traded on Monday.

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Cryptos Languish in Bearish Territory 

Five of the seven cryptocurrencies tracked by Business Post on Tuesday were in bearish territory amid a growing crackdown on the virtual asset in China.

In the Asian country, authorities in the southwest province of Sichuan recently ordered bitcoin mining projects to close.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, last month vowed to clamp down on mining and trading as part of a series of measures to control financial risks.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC) has lost over 20 per cent in the last six days alone and has shed half of the value it traded in April.

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Yesterday, it dropped 0.8 per cent to trade at N16,474,637.69, Ethereum (ETH) lost 14.1 per cent to sell at N901,355.08, Ripple (XRP) dipped by 6.5 per cent to trade at N305.00, Litecoin (LTC) declined by 1.1 per cent to trade at N63,800.00, while Tron (TRX) depreciated by 19.6 per cent to sell at N25.60.

But the Dash (DASH) appreciated by 4.4 per cent to trade at N70,000.00, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) gained 0.8 per cent to sell for N516.86.

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Economy

Oil Falls as OPEC+ Mulls Raising Supply

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Crude oil prices settled slightly lower on Tuesday as the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) discussed raising oil production.

Earlier in the day, the price of the Brent crude hit a two-year high of $75 per barrel but it later dropped to $74.85 per barrel, losing 23 cents or 0.18 per cent while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) declined by 0.29 per cent or 58 cents to trade at $73.08 per barrel.

OPEC+ is discussing a gradual increase in oil output from August, but no decision has been taken on the exact volumes, an OPEC+ source reportedly said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

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The alliance is already returning 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) to the market from May through July as part of a plan to unwind last year’s record output curbs gradually as pandemic-hit demand recovers.

The group will have its next meeting on July 1.

Both benchmarks have risen for the past four weeks on optimism over the pace of global COVID-19 vaccinations and expected pick-up in summer travel. The rebound has pushed up spot premiums for crude in Asia and Europe to multi-month highs.

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On Monday, the market reacted positively over a pause in negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal after Mr Ebrahim Raisi won the country’s presidential election.

Although he backed talks between Iran and six world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal but flatly rejected meeting US President, Mr Joe Biden, even if the country removed all sanctions placed by the Donald Trump administration.

Removal of sanctions on commodities, including crude, could see an extra one million barrel flow into the market as it would be exempted from supply quotas.

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Meanwhile, forecasters continue to see a higher oil price amid tighter oil supply and recovering demand which could push oil briefly to $100 per barrel in 2022.

US crude stocks were expected to have dropped for a fifth consecutive week, and this could lift prices.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said last week that US crude oil stockpiles dropped sharply in the week to June 11 as refineries boosted operations to their highest since January 2020, signalling a continued improvement in demand.

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