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Ahmed’s return: With more duties, can she deliver?

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Ahmed’s return: With more duties, can she deliver?

With the return of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, to her previous job, albeit with increased responsibilities, financial analysts are not expecting much deviation from the policies she pursued during her past stint in the finance ministry, writes Tony Chukwunyem

 

 

 

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n a chat with newsmen on the sidelines of the Bloomberg Emerging and Frontier Forum in London two months ago, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who between September 15 2018 and May 28, this year, was the nation’s Minister of Finance, had indicated that she would like to be reappointed to the position when President Muhammadu Buhari  constituted his second term cabinet.

 

 

She said at the time: “The President is in the process of putting together a new cabinet. I have not had a discussion with him on whether I am coming back on the cabinet or not. I would like to go back to the cabinet in the same role to continue the work that we started.

 

 

“I was only there for nine months; I started a lot of initiatives that I would love to push”.

 

 

VAT hike plan

 

Significantly, the news item that made the headlines from that chat was Ahmed’s disclosure that the Federal Government had plans to raise Value-Added Tax (VAT) to 7.5 per cent by 2020 from the present 5 per cent, as part of its efforts to improve revenue generation.

 

 

She stated: “We have developed a strategic revenue growth initiative, which we have started implementing. Our target is to increase revenue to 65 per cent minimum in 2019 so that in the next three years, we are able to attain 80-85 per cent of our revenue target. We are looking at increasing value-added tax from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent. Five per cent, is one of the lowest VAT, globally. The increase will not be done overnight but hopefully, by the next budget (2020), the new increase will take effect.”

 

 

Besides, she said: “We recently increased the minimum wage and one of the agreements we had with labour was that there would be some marginal increase in VAT to enable us to handle the incremental cost of increasing wages.”

 

 

Achievements

 

 

In fact, a few weeks earlier, during what industry watchers must have assumed was her farewell world press conference, Ahmed had unveiled achievements of the Finance Ministry in the first four years of President Buhari’s administration.

 

 

She noted, for instance, that the country’s foreign reserves which, stood at $28.3 billion in 2015 when President Buhari assumed office, had increased to $44.69 billion as at May 13, 2019. She also pointed out that inflation rates continued to improve from a high rate of 18.7 per cent in January 2017 to 11.37 per cent in April 2019.

 

 

According to Ahmed, the implementation of the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP), which the Buhari’s administration developed in 2017, had led to the economy’s exit from recession and moved it upwards on a path of sustainable, inclusive and diversified growth.

 

 

Specifically, she stated that the Ministry had achieved seven consecutive quarters of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth since the country’s exit from recession in Q2, 2017.

 

 

“As at Q4 2018, the economy grew by 2.38% in real terms (year-on-year), representing an increase of 0.27% compared to Q4 2017 and, a rise of 0.55% compared with the growth rate in Q3 2018. Overall, GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.93% in 2018 compared with 0.82% in 2017, representing an overall increase of 1.11% year on year,” she said.

 

 

The Finance Minister, however, acknowledged that the government faced challenges with regard to domestic revenue mobilization, a development that resulted in its funding budget deficits through borrowings.

 

 

She emphasised that the Finance Ministry was determined to address the long-standing issue of unsatisfactory revenue performance in Nigeria, particularly in the non-oil sector, in order to ensure appropriate financing for critical sectors such as health, education, and infrastructure. 

 

 

Specifically, she said: “Let me first underscore the vital role of domestic revenue mobilization for continued economic success and inclusive growth in Nigeria. Indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari underscored the urgent need for improved revenue performance during his 2019 Budget Speech, and he directed the acceleration of all revenue initiatives.

 

 

“The time to act is now – if we do not address the long standing issue of ‘unsatisfactory revenue performance’ in Nigeria, particularly in the non-oil sector, we will never realize our shared goal of ensuring appropriate financing for critical sectors such as health, education, and infrastructure, and ultimately of co-creating a Nigeria where no one is left behind”.

 

 

Ahmed further pointed out that even as the administration was stepping up efforts to boost domestic revenue mobilization, it had adopted a prudent debt management strategy, which ensures that it invests borrowed funds in capital projects.

 

 

“Although our debt by international standards, at 19.09% Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio is well below the threshold of 56% for countries similar to Nigeria. The government is addressing the issue of reducing the debt service to revenue through a combination of debt substitution strategies,” she stated.

 

 

Concern over rising debt

 

 

Still, with data released by the Debt Management Office (DMO) showing that Nigeria’s external debt commitment jumped  from $10.32billion in June 30, 2015 to $22.08billion as of June 30 last year and further rose to N24.387trillion at the end of 2018, there has been growing concern in industry circles over the country’s rising debt profile.

 

Critics contend that the nation’s economic managers should focus on its abysmal debt servicing to revenue ratio rather than its healthy debt to GDP ratio.

 

 

Speaking at an event in Abuja last November, for instance, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Senior Resident Representative and Mission Chief for Nigeria,  Mr. Amine Mati, said that although Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio remained low at between 20 and 25 per cent, the country  was spending a high proportion of its revenue on debt servicing as a result of low revenue generation.

 

 

He disclosed that Nigeria’s debt servicing to revenue ratio was more than 50 per cent compared with about 10 per cent for sub-Saharan Africa, which according to the IMF official, was unhealthy for economic growth and development.

 

 

Mati said: “Security issues are exacting a significant human toll in a number of countries. Debt to GDP ratio is increasing in the past five years. Public debt is diverting more resources towards debt servicing.

 

 

“The interest rate has gone up to where they used to be around the year 2000 before the debt relief. The adjustment has relied on spending compression rather than revenues mobilisation. Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals will require stronger growth and more financing.”

 

 

Return stirs mixed reactions

 

 

Thus, when last week, Ahmed’s wish to be reappointed to her former position came true, as the Presidency announced that she is now to head an enlarged Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the news elicited mixed reactions in financial and industry circles. 

 

 

While civil servants in the Ministry seemed excited to see her back, analysts generally gave a muted reaction to the announcement.

 

 

Commenting on the subject in a chat with New Telegraph, MD/CEO BIC Consultancy Services, Dr. Boniface Chizea, said: The Finance Minister is returning to a familiar terrain given that it was her former portfolio. In recent times, the Finance Ministry’s role has been that of book keeping. However, it has a lot of key agencies such as the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), the Securities and Exchange (SEC) and so on, reporting to it. The Minister is a gentle lady and one feels that the position requires someone who can handle the rough and tumble that the job requires.

 

 

Also, in his reaction, the MD/CEO Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, in a note entitled, “The more things change, the more they remain the same,” stated: “We are of the view, that it will be presumptuous, to start speculating about the likely effectiveness of any or all of the ministers, as they need time to settle down to their daunting tasks. The biggest problem is that Nigerians have run out of patience and are not interested in stories about the past and what was inherited. They want results now.”

 

 

He predicted that under Mrs. Ahmed’s watch fiscal authorities would undertake additional Eurobond borrowing, stock market weakness would continue, there would be, “ more  forex restriction and economic patriotism” and an emphasis on infrastructure investment.

 

 

However, a Lagos-based financial analyst, Mr. Moses Eze, said he was optimistic that Ahmed and her team were up to the task.

 

He faulted the view in some quarters that the administration’s merging of the Finance and Budget and National Planning ministries would hinder the Finance Minister’s effectiveness.

 

 

He said: “Don’t forget that before she (Ahmed) was moved to the Finance Ministry, she was Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, so she is quite conversant with how that ministry operates. Also, the President has appointed Mr.  Clement Agba  as the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, so the Finance Minister will certainly not be overwhelmed by  her responsibilities.”

 

 

Last line

 

 

But even as reactions continue to trail the Finance Minister’s reappointment, the consensus in industry circles is that given the enormity of the task before her, Mrs.  Ahmed has little choice but to hit the ground running. According to analysts, preparation of the 2020 budget, ensuring fiscal, monetary policy coordination to shield the economy from the impact of dwindling oil prices, implementing tax reforms and introducing investor-friendly policies, are some of the issues the Finance Minister will have to urgently address if  she wants to succeed in putting the country on the path of sustainable and inclusive  growth.

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CBN: Consumer confidence index rose to 3.8 in Q3

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CBN: Consumer confidence index rose to 3.8 in Q3

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onsumers’ overall confidence index rose to 3.8 points in the third quarter of this year, up by 2.3 points compared with the index in the corresponding period of 2018, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Consumer Expectations Survey (CES) Q3 2019 report.

The report, which was posted on the apex bank’s website yesterday, attributed consumers’ favourable outlook to, “improved family income and family financial situation.”

 

It also shows that the consumer outlooks for the next quarter and next 12 months were positive at 22.8 and 31.5 points, respectively and  attributed this to the “expected increase in net household income, an anticipated improvement in Nigeria’s economic conditions and expectations to save a bit and/or have plenty over savings in the next 12 months.”

 

However, despite their optimistic outlook, most respondents, according to the report, expect prices of goods and services to rise in the next 12 months, with an index of 25.0 points. It stated that the major drivers for the expected increase in prices include the purchase of appliances/ consumer durables, savings, education, purchase of car/motor vehicle, purchase of house and transportation.

 

Similarly, the report stated  that the overall buying conditions index for big-ticket items in the Q3’19 stood at 30.3 points, adding that this indicates that most consumers believed that the current quarter was not the ideal time to purchase big-ticket items such as  consumer durables, motor vehicles and houses.

 

 

Likewise, the overall buying intention index in the next twelve months stood at 36.2 index points, indicating, according to the report, “that most consumers do not intend to buy big-ticket items in the next 12 months.”

 

It added that the buying intention indices for consumer durables, motor vehicles and houses were below 50 points, an indication that respondents have no plans to make these purchases in the next twelve months.

 

On the borrowing and exchange rates outlooks for the next 12 months, the report stated that: “With indices of -6.2 and 13.9 points, consumers expect the borrowing rate to fall, but expect the naira to appreciate in the next 12 months.”

 

In addition, the report shows that the unemployment index for the next 12 months remained positive at 21.8 points in Q3 2019, indicating that consumers generally expect the unemployment rate to rise in the next one year.

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Lafarge refutes reports on alleged SEC probe

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Lafarge refutes reports on alleged SEC probe

C

ement company Lafarge Africa Plc has in a notification to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the investing public, debunked a purported investigation ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on its activities over alleged poor corporate governance practices and abuses.

 

In a statement, the General Counsel & Company Secretary, Adewumi Alode, said the cement firm was not in receipt of any letter from and SEC that would warrant the company to believe that an investigation has been launched against it.

 

One of the national newspapers, not New Telegraph, had reported that the apex capital market regulator had launched investigations into activities at Lafarge Africa Plc over allegations of poor corporate governance practices and abuses.

 

According to the report, documents obtained indicated that SEC’s investigation was sequel to a petition written by concerned shareholders of the publicly–quoted company.

 

 

Shareholders had raised several allegations of infractions and poor practices by the company, urging the SEC to act.

 

 

Shareholders called for forensic audit of Lafarge Africa to determine the propriety of acquisition of Lafarge South Africa, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim by Lafarge Africa Plc and the subsequent sale of same Lafarge South Africa to LafargeHolcim after many years of losses that negatively impacted Lafarge Africa. LafargeHolcim is the majority core investor in Lafarge Africa.

 

According to the petition, there is need to ascertain the veracity of the transactions to ensure the minority shareholders were not shortchanged as corporate acquisition of such magnitude ought to have involved comprehensive due diligence to forestall the subsequent round-tripping of assets.

 

The forensic audit is expected to focus on the nature and independence of due diligence on the transactions, share pricing and valuations, board’s oversight functions and insider dealings, interference of the majority core investor and the current composition of the board of Lafarge Africa.

petition alleged that the entire transactions on Lafarge South Africa were skewed in favour of LafargeHolcim, leaving the Nigerian minority shareholders with reduction in shareholding and avoidable losses.

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NSE: Bears overrun bulls

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NSE: Bears overrun bulls

 

LOW CONFIDENCE

Market breadth closed negative as Courtville led 12 gainers against 13 losers topped by Eterna Oil at the end of trading session

 

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rading activities on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange yesterday witnessed another drop in share prices as bears sustained their grip on the local bourse following sell-off that has persisted on the equities market.

Market breadth closed negative as Courtville led 12 gainers against 13 losers topped by Eterna Oil at the end of the trading session.

 

 

Consequently, the All-Share Index dipped 24.25 basis points or 0.09 per cent to close at 26,365.83 index points as against 26.390.08 recorded the previous trading session while market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N12 billion from N12.846 trillion the previous day to N12.834 trillion as market sentiment remained on the negative territory.

 

 

However, turnover closes positive as volume moved up by +182.29 per cent as against -20.84 per cent downtick recorded in the previous session.

Meanwhile, a turnover of 694 million shares exchanged in 2,780 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.

 

 

 

The premium sub-sector was the most active (measured by turnover volume); with 392.3 million shares exchanged by investors in 1,193 deals.

Volume in the sub-sector was largely driven by activities in the shares of Zenith Bank Plc and UBA Plc.

 

 

Also, the banking sub-sector, boosted by activities in the shares of Fidelity Bank Plc and GTBank Plc, followed with a turnover of 64.4 million shares in 532 deals.

 

 

Further analysis of the day’s trading showed that in percentage terms, Courtville Business Solution Plc topped the day’s gainers’ table with 10 per cent to close at 22 kobo per share while Cutix Plc followed with 9.92 per cent to close at N1.44 per share. Cornerstone Insurance Plc added 8.57 per cent to close at 38 kobo per share.

 

 

On the flip side, Eterna Oil Plc led the losers with a drop of 9.52 per cent to close at N2.85 per share while Omomor Bank Plc shed 9.09 per cent to close at 50 kobo per share. May and Baker Plc trailed with 8.68 per cent to close at N2.00 per share.

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CBN grapples with rising cost of printing currency

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CBN grapples with rising cost of printing currency

O

ver seven years after it introduced the cashless policy as part of efforts to tackle the problem of printing cash, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seems to be making little headway in its struggle to reduce the costs, findings by New Telegraph show.

 

 

According to data obtained from the CBN’s Currency Operations 2018 Annual report released a few days ago, the apex bank spent a whopping sum of N231.27 billion to print currency between 2013 and 2018.

 

 

New Telegraph’s analysis of the report shows that the cost of printing currency has been rising steadily since 2016.

 

For instance, while the CBN spent the sum of N33.37billion to print currency in 2016, the amount increased to N49.52 billion and N64.04 billion in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

 

For 2013, 2014 and 2015, the report indicates that the regulator spent N31.10 billion, N23.13 billion and N30.09 billion respectively for the same purpose.

This means that between 2013 and 2018, the banking watchdog spent the highest amount (N64.04billion) to print currency last year.

 

Similarly, the report shows that the CBN approved an indent of 3,351.34 million pieces of banknotes of various denominations in 2018, which was 25.3 per cent higher than the level of the preceding year, to meet the currency needs of the economy.

 

 

It stated that although  the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) Plc was awarded the  contract for the entire indent, the company delivered 2,653.31 million pieces or 79.2 per cent of the total with an outstanding balance of 698.03 as at the end of December last year.

 

 

The 3.35 billion pieces of currency indent ordered from NSPM last year is, in fact, the highest the CBN has requested since 2014 when it ordered 1.76 billion.

 

 

Aside the massive amount it spent on printing currency last year, the CBN also disclosed in the report that it expended a total of N74.6 billion on currency operations, while  “the sum of N662.21 million was expended on currency notes disposal,” during the period.

It, however, said it generated an income of N7.9 billion from penal charges on unsorted bank notes deposited by deposit money banks (DMBs) and charges for authentication of foreign currency deposits that lenders deposited with it, during the period.

 

 

It would  be recalled that when the CBN,  then under the leadership of Sanusi Lamido,  introduced  the cashless policy in 2012, it said  the initiative, which is  aimed at curbing the use  of and handling (or abuse) of  naira notes, would also result in huge savings for the regulator with regard to the massive amounts it spends on printing  currency.

 

 

Indeed, as part of efforts to encourage better handling of the naira, the CBN on June 30, this year in Lagos, unveiled its “Clean Note Policy and Bank Note Fitness Guideline,” which, the bank said, provided a unified standard for the circulation of only clean and fit notes.

 

Speaking at the event, the Director of Currency Operations of the CBN, Mrs. Prinscilla Eleje, revealed that the apex bank no longer printed naira notes abroad as all currencies are now printed by the NSPMC.

 

Eleje, who also disclosed that the CBN had reduced the cost of   replacing mutilated currencies from N50 to N5, urged banks to accept mutilated and over-circulated notes and bring them to the apex bank for replacement.

 

 

Industry sources told New Telegraph at the weekend that the need to encourage Nigerians to fully embrace the cashless policy, thereby reducing its currency printing costs, was one of the key reasons the CBN recently introduced new charges on deposits and withdrawals above certain thresholds.

 

Specifically, the CBN had in a circular released on September 17, this year, stated that  with effect from September 18, 2019,   a three per cent processing fee on withdrawals and two per cent processing fee would be charged on lodgments of amounts above N500,000 for individual accounts.

 

For corporate accounts, the CBN said that lenders would charge five per cent processing fees for withdrawals and three processing fee for lodgments of amounts above N3,000,000.

 

 

The statement, however, disclosed that the charge on deposits would apply in Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, and Rivers States as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

 

It added that the implementation of the cashless policy would take effect in other states from March 31, 2020.

However, in a circular it released last Friday, the CBN announced that it had exempted all embassies, diplomatic missions, multilateral and aid donor agencies in Nigeria, as well as revenue generating accounts of government agencies, from charges on cash withdrawal and deposits with regard to the implementation of the cashless policy.

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Lagos ports risky for vessels, seafarers

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Lagos ports risky for vessels, seafarers

All types of ships are now vulnerable to attack in Gulf of Guinea, which now accounts for 86 per cent of crew   hostage globally in 2019, BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports

 

 

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iracy has remained one of the biggest crimes in the maritime industry and  has caused immense financial and economic losses to ship owners and government as well as physical harm to crew members.

For more than one decade, Nigerian waters have been labeled as the hot spot for piracy,  armed robbery and kidnapping.

 

 

Piracy includes attacks on shipping on the high seas, which are more than 12 nautical miles off the coastline and not under the jurisdiction of any state.

 

 

Inside a country’s territorial waters and within port facilities, the attacks are defined as robberies at sea.

 

Report

 

Mostly affected in the last three months is the Lagos port, which has become the hotbed of armed robbery, especially in the third quarter of 2019.

 

It was learnt that 37.9 per cent or 11 incidents of the 29 incidents were recorded in 2019, the highest number in any port in the world were recorded in Lagos.

 

Although, for the first time in the first quarter of 2019, Nigeria experienced a decrease in reported piracy incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) report.

 

The country reported 14 incidents of piracy for Q1, 2019, in comparison to 22 incidents in Q1, 2018 because of government efforts to reduce robbery on the sea.

 

However, despite efforts to reduce robbery, Nigerian waters  have remained risky for vessels, especially the ports of Lagos and Rivers where some incidents have been reported between April and June this year

Attacks

 

Despite reporting more attacks than any other country, Nigeria has reduced Q3 piracy attacks from 41 in 2018 to 29 in 2019.

 

For instance in 2019,  no fewer than 119 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC)’s compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018.

The IMB’s report for the third quarter of 2019 revealed that the incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were fewer in the first nine months of 2018.

 

Overall, the bureau noted that 95 vessels were boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked.

 

Also, the number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.

 

According to the bureau, “incidents involving guns and knives remain consistent. There have been 24 knife-related and 35 gun-related incidents reported in 2019, compared to 25 and 37 for the first nine months of 2018. These statistics confirm IMB’s concerns over continued threats to the safety and security of seafarers.”

 

2019 incidents

This year, the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) accounted for 86 per cent of crew taken hostage and nearly 82 per cent of crew kidnappings globally.

 

In July, a general cargo vessel was hijacked approximately 120 nautical miles (nm) South West from Brass. Also, 10 crew members were kidnapped from the vessel and released four weeks later.

In August, a bulk carrier and a general cargo vessel were boarded within hours of each other at Douala anchorage, Cameroon and a total of 17 crew were kidnapped from the vessels. Within six weeks, all kidnapped crew were released.

This incident demonstrates the range of piracy activity in the Gulf of Guinea and that all types of ships are vulnerable to attack.

 

According to the Director of IMB, Pottengal Mukundan, the Gulf of Guinea  had continued to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency.

He noted: “It is important that shipmasters and owners continue to report all actual, attempted and suspected incidents to ensure that an accurate picture of these attacks emerge and  action is taken against these criminals before the incidents further escalate.”

 

Solution

However, the Federal Government has signed Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill into law to prevent and suppress piracy, armed robbery and any other unlawful act against a ship, aircraft and any other maritime thefts in the country’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.

 

Speaking on the new law, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, explained in  Lagos that the Act would ensure an increasingly safer and more secure environment for profitable maritime business especially at the very critical stage of the country’s  blue economy drive.

 

He listed some of the significant provisions of the Act as including a distinct definition of piracy, maritime offences/unlawful acts, punishment upon conviction for maritime crimes, restitution to owners of violated maritime assets or forfeiture of proceeds of maritime crime to the Federal Government and establishment of a Piracy and Maritime Offences Fund (MPOF) with prescribed sources of funding that will be utilised in the implementation of the Act.

 

 

Dakuku added that the law would empowers relevant authorities mentioned under the Act to seize vessels or aircraft used for maritime crimes anywhere in Nigeria and in international waters or in the jurisdiction of any country where the ship is reasonably believed to be a pirate-controlled ship or aircraft.

Last line

Government should beef up security around the ports to ensure that ships, crew and cargoes are protected.

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McKinsey: 50% global banks too weak to survive downturn

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ore than half of the world’s banks are too weak to survive a downturn, according to a survey from consultancy McKinsey & Co.

A majority of banks globally may not be economically viable because their returns on equity aren’t keeping pace with costs, McKinsey said in its annual review of the industry released Monday. It urged firms to take steps such as developing technology, farming out operations and bulking up through mergers ahead of a potential economic slowdown.

 

McKinsey, whose clients are some of the biggest corporations in the world, consults on topics ranging from strategy and technology to mergers & acquisitions, outsourcing and stock offerings.

 

In its report, the firm said banks risk “becoming footnotes to history” as new entrants change consumer behavior. Most recent attempts by banks to boost efficiency have been “business-as-usual.”

Banks allocate just 35 per cent of their information-technology budgets to innovation, while fintechs spend more than 70 per cent, McKinsey said.

 

 

Combined with regulatory factors lowering the barrier to entry — like open banking and looser requirements for startups — the environment is increasingly conducive for newer firms to take share from banks.

 

The report points to Amazon.com Inc. in the U.S. and Ping An in China as examples of technology firms that are capturing financial-services customers. To make matters worse for the old guard, the new players tend to go after the business areas that create the highest returns at banks — credit cards, for example.

 

Commenting on the findings, Kausik Rajgopal, a senior partner at McKinsey, said:  “We believe we’re in the late economic cycle and banks need to make bold moves now because they are not in great shape.” In the late cycle, nobody can afford to rest on their laurels.”

Lenders can cut costs and find funds for technology by outsourcing what McKinsey calls “non-differentiating activities,” including some trading and compliance functions. Banks “need to get much more comfortable with external partnerships and being able to leverage talent externally,” Rajgopal said.

 

Another way to free up money: get bigger. BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. said as much when they announced their decision to combine earlier this year — the biggest U.S. bank merger since the financial crisis. Rajgopal said he expects M&A to continue in the late cycle.

Going forward, scale will likely matter even more as banks head into an arms race on technology,” the report said.

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FMDQ reports N19.20trn turnover in September

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DEALS

Treasury bills and FX product segments persisted as the major drivers of turnover, jointly accounting  for  78.42 per cent

 

 

T

urnover in the Fixed Income and Currency (FIC) market for the month ended September 30, 2019 amounted to N19.20 trillion, representing a month-on-month (MoM) decrease of 17.28 per cent (N4.01 trillion) on   turnover  recorded  in August 2019 (N23.21 trillion)and a  year-on-year (YoY) increase of  15.32 per cent (N2.55 trillion) on the turnover recorded in September2018 (N16.65 trillion).

 

Treasury bills and FX product segments persisted as the major drivers of turnover, jointly accounting  for  78.42 per cent  of  the  total  FIC  market  turnover  in  September  2019 and representing a MoM decrease of 0.91 per cent in the joint contribution recorded in August 2019 (79.33 per cent), driven by an increase in the contribution of Repurchase Agreements/Buy-Backs and Unsecured Placements/Takings to 15.05 per cent and 1.45 per cent respectively.

 

In a report obtained by New Telegraph, FX  market  turnover  in September 2019  was  $18.12 billion (N6.56 trillion),  representing  a 29.47 per cent ($7.57 billion) MoM decrease from August 2019.

 

Analysis of FX market turnover by trade type indicates MoM decreased across all categories, with Member-CBN trades  recording  the  highest  percentage  MoM decrease  at 47.61 per cent ($3.32 billion),  while  member-client  trades  recorded  the  highest  MoM decrease  in  dollar (nominal) terms, at $4.12 billion (26.77 per cent).

 

 

Further  analysis  by  product  type  indicates  that  the  MoM decrease  in  FX  turnover  was mainly driven by a 21.20b per cent ($3.04 billion) and 39.90 per cent ($4.53 billion) MoM decrease in FX Spot and FX Derivatives turnover respectively.

 

In September 2019, the naira-settled OTC FX Futures Contract (NGUS SEP 18 2019) with a total open contract value of $1.29 billion matured and was settled, and a new contract, NGUS OCT 28 2020 for $1.00 billion at $/N365.50 was introduced.

 

This brings the total value of open OTC  FX  Futures  Contracts to $10.24 billion,while  the  total  value  of  contracts settled  since inception to date at $19.58 billion.

 

 

In September 2019, the CBN Official Spot rate for US$/N remained constant at $/N307.00.

Similarly,  the  parallel market rate remained constant at $/N360.00, while the naira appreciated against the US Dollar at the Investors’ and Exporters’ (I&E) FX Window by $/N0.70 to close at $/N362.23 in September 2019 Fixed Income Market (T.bills and FGN5 bonds).

In September 2019, total OMO bills issued was N15.22 trillion, representing a MoM increase of 0.53 per cent (N0.08 trillion), whilst average T.bills outstanding remained constant at N2.58 trillion.

 

Furthermore,  average  outstanding  FGN  bonds  recorded  a  MoM increase  of 0.68 per cent (N0.06 trillion) to close at N8.83 trillion in September 2019 from N8.77 trillion reported in August 2019.

 

Trading intensity  for  T.bills  decreased  to  0.48  in  September  2019  from  0.51  recorded  in August 2019, similarly, trading intensity for FGN bonds decreased from 0.14 in August 2019 to 0.11 in September 2019.

 

YTD trading intensity for T.bills and FGN bonds stood at 4.09 and 1.22 respectively compared to 3.99and 1.20 recorded in the corresponding period in 2018.

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Lender partners Rhiza Africa on agric technology

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tandard Bank has partnered Rhiza Africa to boost agricultural produce and increase famers’ yield, through innovation, driven by digital intelligence.

 

 

Standard Bank’s satellite hosted-remote sensing innovation is delivered in partnership with service provider Rhiza Africa and backed by Origin Enterprises PLC and the European Space Agency.

 

 

Speaking on the partnership, Abrie Rautenbach, Head, Agribusiness, Business Banking for Africa Regions at Standard Bank, said: “Information is the key to realise Africa’s vast agricultural potential. Digital technologies are merely the tools that will deliver the information.”

 

 

According to Rautenbach, as  a result of the partnership, farmers and agronomists can take advantage of digital tools developed for the agricultural sector.   

 

Also commenting on the partnership, Danie Swart, General Manager for RHIZA Africa, said: “Contour is an aggregated remote sensing information platform with a complete suite of farm monitoring tools for farmers, whereas GRID is a digital service for financial partners and farmers that helps them grow together.”

 

“Clients can use the information to understand the health of a crop; do fertilizer and spray planning; identify flooded areas; understand ground conditions – such as soil health and moisture levels – and monitor historical weather,” Swart added.

 

 

“It is important for Standard Bank to be able to assist farmers to improve yield through relevant information that can provide a view on plant health or development issues with a specific crop.

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Border closure: Importers reroute cargoes from Cotonou to Lagos

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F

ollowing the closure of land borders in the country, importers are now rerouting Nigeria bound cargoes to Lagos ports from Cotonou.

 

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Adam Jatto, said  in Lagos that the seaports had the capacity to handle increased cargoes coming into the ports.

He stressed that terminal operators had  the required equipment to meet the increased cargo throughput.

 

Also, the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Boniface Aniebonam, explained in Lagos that the impact of the land borders, closure would lead to increased cargoes at the seaports.

He  explained that some of the goods were being re-routed back to Nigerian ports through the normal process.

 

 

Already, Nigerian ports had handed a cargo throughput of 38.5 million metric tonnes in the first half of 2019.

According to records, Delta Ports had handled 300 vessels compared to the 268 vessels handled by the port in the first six months of 2018.

Also,  Rivers Ports handled 160 vessels, while Calabar Port took delivery of 82 vessels during the period.

 

It added that cargo throughput at the Delta Ports rose by 52.2 per cent year-on-year from 2.89 million metric tonnes recorded in the first half of 2018 to 4.41 million metric tonnes recorded in the first half of 2019.

Cargo throughput at the Tin Can Island Port in the first half of 2019 stood at 7.79 million metric tonnes; a growth of 12.7 per cent over the 6.92 million metric tonnes handled in the corresponding period of 2018.

The number of ocean-going vessels that called at the nation major seaports within the period also increased from 2,008 to 2,111, representing 5.2 per cent growth.

 

According to the report, the gross registered tonnage (GRT) of ocean-going vessels completed in the first half of 2019 stood at 67 million metric tonnes or an increase of 3.3 per cent over the 64.89 million metric tonnes handled at the ports from January to June 2018.

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UBA grows PAT to N82bn in 9 months

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UBA grows PAT to N82bn in 9 months

United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) has recorded a 32.30 per cent growth in profit after tax to N82.628 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2019 as against N61.698 billion in 2018.

The group in a filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) also reported a pre-tax profit of N98.233 billion during the period under review in contrast to N79.111 billion posted a year earlier, accounting for a growth of 24.17 per cent.

Its interest income also firmed up by 10.77 to N297.903 billion from N268937 billion reported in 2018.

The pan-African financial institution had delivered double digit growth in its profit before tax as it rose by 21 per cent to N70.3 billion for the half year to June 2019, up from N58.1 billion recorded in the similar period of 2018, just as the profit after tax also improved to N56.7 billion, a 29.6 per cent growth compared to N43.8 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2018.

The profit for the first half of the year translated to an annualised return on average equity of 21.7 per cent.

According to the results filed with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, UBA recorded a 14 per cent year-on-year rise in top-line, with gross earnings of N293.7 billion, compared to N257.9 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2018.

Analysts say that this result emphasises the capacity of the group to deliver a strong performance through economic cycles in spite of the overall challenging business environment.

As at  June 30, 2019, the bank’s total assets grew by 4.8 per cent, crossing the N5 trillion mark to N5.10 trillion. Customer deposits also rose by 4.8 per cent to N3.51 trillion, compared to N3.35 trillion as at December 2018.

The growth trajectory underscores UBA’s market share gain, as it increasingly wins customers through its revitalised customer service culture coupled with innovative digital banking offerings. The bank’s shareholders’ funds remain strong at N542.5 billion, reflecting its strong capacity for internal capital generation.

In line with its culture of paying both interim and final cash dividend, the board of directors of UBA Plc declared an interim dividend of N0.20 per share for every ordinary share of N0.50 each held by its shareholders.

Commenting on the results, the Group Managing Director/CEO, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, said: “I am pleased with the half performance of the group, having delivered 14 per cent growth in gross earnings and 21 per cent growth in profit before tax. Despite the subdued yield environment in some of our large markets, we achieved a nine per cent growth in interest income and defended the net interest margin.

“We also achieved a 39 per cent growth in our electronic banking revenues, as we broaden and deepened our digital banking play across Africa. Revenues from our remittance and funds transfer businesses grew 69 per cent and 53 per cent respectively. All these factors attest to the efficacy of our strategies and the resilience of our business model.

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