Business

Akeem ReachnaijaJuly 14, 2019
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2min830

Tania Omotayo, a fashion designer and new mom, has landed a new endorsement deal.

Tania, former girlfriend of superstar singer Wizkid who recently welcomed a baby, is the new face for ‘Omomi’ brand ambassador.

Sharing photos and the news, she wrote;

Say Hello to the newest Brand Ambassadors in town � @naomadagency is proud to announce the partnership between @omomi_ng (Omomi App) and Tania Omotayo. Omomi is excited to work with Tania because she embodies what Omomi stands for, which is growing a healthy society of moms and their children.”

“Aside from being a mom herself, Tania is an accomplished, award-winning entrepreneur who is redefining fashion in Nigeria. We are also delighted to work with Tania because as a mom herself, Tania is well aware of the importance of having a support system of fellow moms to navigate the challenges of motherhood. Tania also knows the importance of having convenient and accessible healthcare.”

“As an Omomi Ambassador, Tania will champion conversations on maternal and child health, as well as interact with mothers like herself to help them find answers to their health questions from medical experts on the app.”


Akeem ReachnaijaJuly 12, 2019
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8min630

Two measures rolled out in quick succession by the Central Bank of Nigeria could give impetus to the financial system and boost the flagging economy. A plan to compel a sweeping recapitalisation announced by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, was followed days later by a directive to banks to lend a minimum of 60 per cent of their deposits to businesses to stimulate productive activities and enhance job creation. As responses to the slowdown, these measures will, however, require strict supervision and collaboration with fiscal policy administrators to achieve their objectives.

Emefiele, unfolding his priorities for the next five years, said the depreciation of the naira (by over 300 per cent) since the last major recapitalisation in 2005 had eroded the value of the surviving 24 Deposit Money Banks by about $175 million on the average. When they were asked to raise their capital base from N2 billion to N25 billion, the exchange rate was just about N100 to US$1; today, it is N306 to $1 at the official window and N360 to $1 at the parallel market. From the roughly $250 million capital (at the prevailing exchange rate) in 2005 therefore, he said each DMB had only about $75 million as capital today. Combined, analysts put the capital erosion of the top 20 banks at $3.5 billion.

To meet the CBN’s ambition to push Nigeria’s big banks to the top 500 bracket globally in five years, they are to start prepping for another explosion in the system: the last quake saw a drastic reduction in the number of banks from 89 to 25 post-consolidation. Mergers, acquisitions, a few stand-alone reboots accompanied that exercise.

As the market digested this, the CBN came out with a stick: banks should lend 60 per cent of their deposits by the end of September this year and will be reviewed every three months. Those who fail will be penalised by having their Cash Reserve Ratio raised and the excess funds deposited at the CBN at zero interest.

Both policies seek to enhance the banks’ financial intermediation role and direct credit to the productive sectors. Analysts say this could free up to N1.5 trillion for credit. Efforts to channel credit substantially to businesses have failed over the years. Bloomberg recalls that our banks are particularly reluctant to lend to the productive sectors for reasons ranging from low returns, high risk to low repayment levels, as well as inadequate long term funds. Instead, they opt for government securities and naira-denominated bonds that, at over 14.3 per cent yields, are among the highest worldwide.  While Nigerian banks typically lend less than 60 per cent of their deposits, the average loan-to-deposit ratio in Africa is 78 per cent; it is about 90 per cent in South Africa and 76 per cent in Kenya. Guaranty Trust Bank, Nigeria’s biggest bank by market value, has a 53 per cent loans-to-deposit ratio. Total deposits were $82.12 billion (almost 25 trillion) in the country by December 2018, as recorded by the Census and Economic Information Centre, USA, while lending to agriculture, manufacturing, oil and gas and 15 other sectors was N241.87 trillion in the years 2015 to 2018, this newspaper reported.

Ensuring that small and medium enterprises, the mortgage sector, retail, consumers and the real sectors benefit from credit, the CBN will have, first, to ensure compliance with its directives. Banks should be compelled to meet set targets. The harder task will be bringing down interest rates and taming inflation, both of which make lending to these high job-creating sectors, very risky. The CBN’s own benchmark rate of 13.5 per cent is steep, while DMBs lend at between 20 per cent and over 40 per cent for mortgages. Unless the CBN is able to harmonise its policies with fiscal policies to expand and diversify foreign exchange sources away from its near monopoly and reduce interest rates, the banks may find it simply impractical to lend as directed. Inflation at over 11 per cent, will erode long-term funds, make profitability and repayment harder and push the banks into stress mode. The system is already grappling with high non-performing loans that stood at N2.24 trillion by September 2018.  Elsewhere, to realise its 12th five-year development plan, India’s Small Industries Development Bank guarantees 75 per cent repayment of loans to SMEs and does not demand collateral.

A report by the OECD in 2018 found that increasingly, in China, the United Kingdom and the United States, government interventions were making low interest loans more available to small businesses. In Singapore, where 99 per cent of its 220,100 businesses are SMEs, employing two-thirds of the workforce and providing 49 per cent of GDP, invoice financing is one of the instruments used to plug the credit gap. The CBN should explore such innovative complements to traditional bank lending to mitigate our difficult operating environment.

Making our banks stronger and healthier should be a priority. In 2005, the economy was awash in cash and many banks met new capital thresholds through initial public offers. But with unemployment at record highs and foreign investors fleeing (they pulled out $2.1 billion in 2018 and the bourse lost $50 million in value), that will not happen today. Much will therefore depend on how Emefiele and the Muhammadu Buhari government can lift the economy in the years ahead. The CBN should deploy cutting edge technology, improve its skills and, above all, adopt a zero tolerance culture for malpractices to ensure that the system is strong and resilient. The economy cannot afford bank failures at this time; it was the frequent recourse to the CBN’s overnight lending window that alerted the regulator to systemic stress in 2009, enabling it to intervene and save the system. Vigilance and swift policing are, therefore, crucial in the years ahead. Forty-five banks out of 48 in liquidation closed between 1994 and 2006, after their licences were revoked. Several more have gone down since then.

Hardly can the banking system thrive when the economy is on its knees. Buhari especially, needs to grasp the precariousness of Nigeria’s economic situation and assemble a team of capable technocrats and initiate market-oriented policies to rescue the economy and strengthen the financial system immediately.


Akeem ReachnaijaJuly 10, 2019
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1min610

According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, the billionaire industrialist is the 75th richest man in the world in 2019. In the last one year, Dangote has added another $6 billion to his wealth, maintaining his wealth status on the African soil at $6.5 billion as of July 5, 2019.

In the last one year, Dangote has added another $6 billion to his wealth, maintaining his wealth status on the African soil at $16.5 billion as of July 5, 2019.

Other Africans on the billionaires on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index for world’s 500 richest people include Natie Kirsh (South Africa) and Johann Rupert (South Africa). The Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranks of the world’s richest people daily using their net worth and their daily business stock activities.

Last year, the billionaire businessman had said that he wants to become the biggest philanthropist in Africa, asides being the continent’s richest man. He said the motivation gave birth to Aliko Dangote Foundation, on whose platform more than N2 billion had been disbursed across states.


Akeem ReachnaijaJuly 4, 2019
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2min550

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) provided about $3.6 billion foreign exchange (FX) to oil marketers to import petroleum products into the country contrary to claims by the marketers that they had no access to FX for imports. The Chief Operating Officer, Downstream of the NNPC, Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, said this yesterday at a panel session at the Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition in Abuja.

He said the claims by the marketers that their inability to import petroleum product was due to problems related to access to foreign exchange was not true. Although he did not mention the period the FX interventions were made, Obih said, “The truth is that the forex intervention scheme which was rolled out by CBN and co-managed by the NNPC has been extremely successful.”

“Since that scheme was set up, we have received applications from marketers for $7.2 billion worth of FX. In terms of actual disbursement, about 50 percent of the applications got funding. But the truth is that the FX that came through that scheme, especially for PMS, got potential funding for the majority of the applicants and FX was available to the marketers,” he said.

He said, however, that applications that came in for AGO (diesel), HHK (kerosene), ATK (aviation fuel) also got forex at 305 to a dollar. Daily Trust reports that private oil marketers were said to have stopped fuel importation in 2017 due to a shortage of foreign exchange and increase in crude prices, which they said had made it unprofitable to import petrol and sell same at N145 per litre.


Akeem ReachnaijaJuly 1, 2019
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6min700

The nation’s power grid recorded its eighth total collapse this year on Sunday, plunging consumers across the country into blackout for some hours.

The government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria, which manages the grid, blamed electricity distribution companies for the system failure, which it said occurred at 9.10 am.

Total generation stood at 3,825 megawatts as of 6.00 am on Sunday, compared to 3,260.9MW on Saturday, the data obtained from the Nigeria Electricity System Operator, an arm of the TCN, showed.

The grid suffered four total collapses in January and one each in February, April and May, according to the system operator.

Enugu Electricity Distribution Plc had announced on its Twitter handle on Sunday afternoon that “the present loss of supply in the entire South-East is as a result of a system collapse which occurred at 09.21 am of today, 30th June, 2019.”

“This is as a result of a fire outbreak on Benin 330KV transmission line reactor. As a result of this unfortunate development, there is zero supply to all customers in our franchise areas as all our injection substations are affected,” it added.

Another Disco, Kaduna Electricity Distribution Plc, also informed its customers about the system failure from the national grid.

“We are currently experiencing a system collapse from the national grid, hence the power outage in our franchise states. Normal supply to our customers will resume as soon as the national grid is back up and stable,” it said on Twitter.

The TCN, in a statement made available to our correspondent around 6.28 pm, said the national grid experienced a system collapse today at 9.10 am due to high voltage following a massive drop of load by the electricity distribution companies.

It said the high voltage also caused a fire incident in the 75MX reactor in the Benin Substation, Sapele Road in Benin City, Edo State.

“The massive load drop led to high voltage in the system, which shattered the lightning arrester in close proximity to the 75MX reactor in Benin Substation. The shattered lightning arrester porcelain hit the reactor bushing, causing a further explosion on the reactor and resulting in a fire outbreak.”

The TCN said the restoration of the grid commenced immediately and as of 1.30pm, bulk power supply to most parts of the nation had been restored.

The company said it had commenced the movement of another reactor to Benin City to replace the burnt reactor and ensure voltage stability in the city as well as prevent a re-occurrence.

It said, “Management would also ensure a review of the entire protection and earthing system nationwide. This is done in addition to the overall upgrading of the system through the TREP programme being financed by multi-lateral donors.

“The installation of three reactors on the Ikot-Ekpene-Ugwuaji–Jos line has reached an advance stage. It is expected that once these three reactors are installed and inaugurated, the grid would be further stabilised. TCN management wishes to assure Nigerians that it is doing everything possible to modernise, upgrade and stabilise the national grid.”

Meanwhile, the TCN has said it may expel some Discos from the market as a result of their inability to provide their security cover.

Last week, the Market Operator, an arm of the TCN, ordered the suspension of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company and Eko Electricity Distribution Company from the MO-administered markets for failing to renew their security cover.

According to the TCN, security cover when so required of an amount established by Market Operator to serve as a form of guarantee of payment for all amounts due from the participant to the MO.

The Managing Director, TCN, Mr Usman Mohammed, in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Sunday, said Enugu Disco was given a disconnection notice while Ikeja and Eko Discos only got a notice of suspension from the market.

He said if they don’t make good within a certain period of time, the next thing that will happen is that they will be expelled, and when they are expelled, it means that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission will be notified that those people are incapable of meeting their responsibilities in the market, so NERC should invoke its business continuity regulation to ensure that they are replaced.

“We did not disconnect Eko and Ikeja Discos because the gravity of their offence did not warrant that. But in Enugu, we disconnected some lines. When they (Enugu Disco) make good, they will be restored to the market. But if they don’t, they will go to the next level, which is expulsion.”


Akeem ReachnaijaJune 29, 2019
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2min390

In continuation of its intervention in the inter-bank foreign exchange market, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Friday, June 28, 2019, injected the sum of $242.04million into the retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) and CNY 32.3million in the spot and short tenored forwards segment of the inter-bank foreign market.

The Bank’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okorafor disclosed that the intervention was for requests in the agricultural and raw materials sectors, adding that the Chinese Yuan, on the other hand, was for Renminbi-denominated Letters of Credit.

Mr. Okorafor further expressed satisfaction over the stability of the foreign exchange which according to him, was largely due to sustained intervention by the Bank. He assured that the apex Bank Management would remain committed to ensuring that all the sectors of the forex market continue to enjoy access to the needed foreign exchange.

He reiterated that with improved inflow of foreign exchange, the exchange rate had remained stable around N360/$1 for the past 27 months.

It will be recalled that the Bank on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, offered authorized dealers in the wholesale segment of the market the sum of $100million, while the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the invisibles segments each received the sum of $55 million.

Meanwhile, $1 exchanged for N361 at the Bureau de Change (BDC) segment of the foreign exchange market, while CNY1 exchanged at N55 on Friday, June 28, 2019.


Akeem ReachnaijaJune 25, 2019
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2min370

The depreciation of the naira between 2004 when the last banking sector recapitalisation took place and now has cut the value of the capital of each Deposit Money Bank by about $175m.

The recapitalisation of the banking sector, which was done in 2005, required the banks to raise their capital base from N2bn to N25bn.

The exercise then saw the emergence of 24 Deposit Money Banks following the merger of some of them as well as the acquisition of many that could not raise the required capital.

Speaking on Monday in Abuja during the unveiling of his economic agenda for the next five years, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, noted that the drop in the value of the naira to the dollar had weakened the capital of banks.

For instance, the apex bank boss recalled that in 2004 when the banks were last asked to recapitalise, the value of a dollar to the naira was about N100.

This, he explained, meant that the N25bn capital base of banks when translated into the dollar was about $250m.

However, due to the drop in the value of the nation’s currency which now exchanges for N360 to a dollar, the governor put the translated value of N25bn at just about $75m.

Going by this, it, therefore, means that the value of the capital of each bank had been reduced by $175m.

Based on the number of Deposit Money Banks in the country which stands at 20, the total value of the capital base may have been eroded by about $3.5bn.

Emefiele said going by the huge developmental role the apex bank would want the banks to play in the next five years, it had become imperative to demand their recapitalisation.


Akeem ReachnaijaJune 23, 2019
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1min740

The Lagos State Branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, has told Nigerians to expect a 100% increase in drug prices.

PSN chairman in Lagos Mrs Bolanle Adeniran, who spoke at an event organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries on Thursday, stated that Nigerians should expect a 100% increase in drug prices in about six months from now if the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control does not reverse the 350 per cent levy it imposed on drug and product registration in the country.

Punch reported that she said that NAFDAC also needed to eliminate the delay associated with registration of drugs and related products, adding that the registration could take over two years in bizarre instances.


Akeem ReachnaijaJune 20, 2019
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3min500

Months after news first emerged that billionaire Femi Otedola was divesting his 75percent direct and indirect shareholding in Forte Oil’s downstream business with the transaction expected to close in the first quarter of 2019 subject to the satisfaction of various conditions and receipt of applicable regulatory approval, The Capital can reveal authoritatively that the deal has now been finalized.

Otedola has effectively ceased to be involved with the company. The new owner is Abdulwasiu Sowami, the businessman behind Prudent Energy and Services Ltd. Sowami, who lives in Ogba, Lagos, was virtually unknown in Nigeria until his name propped up as the new proprietor of Forte Oil.

Indeed, it is the end of an era for Otedola and Forte Oil, the company that has become synonymous with his mammoth wealth. Originally founded in 1964 as British Petroleum before becoming known as African Petroleum, Otedola was appointed its chairman and chief executive in 2007 after the acquisition of a controlling stake in the business by his petroleum products marketing and distribution company, Zenon Petroleum.

In 2010, the company rebranded to Forte Oil with a focus on technology and improved corporate governance. Over the years, Forte Oil established presence in the 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja, operating a network of 500 retail outlets spread across the country and in Ghana, with major fuel storage installations at both Apapa (Lagos State) and Onne (Rivers State), an aviation joint users hydrant in Lagos, and joint aviation depots in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, serving the aviation industry.

The company markets premium motor spirit (PMS), automotive motor oil (Diesel), dual purpose kero (DPK), fuel oils and Jet A-1 fuel amongst others. It also manufactures and distributes a range of lubricants, some of which include Super V, Visco 2000 etc. at its lubricating oil blending plant at Apapa, Lagos. It also provides well production chemicals and drilling fluids to Nigeria’s petroleum upstream operators through its upstream services subsidiary, Forte Upstream Services.

With Forte Oil, the successful businessman achieved a different level of prosperity so much that by 2015, he was listed as the 16th richest man in Africa by Forbes. But the adventurous billionaire seems bored with the oil business as he has now set his sight on conquering the power sector. In 2013, Forte Oil purchased a controlling stake in the 414 MW Geregu Power Plant under a government-led privatisation programme in the power industry. A major overhaul of the plant commenced in 2015 and was completed in 2016, increasing the combined capacity to 435MW.

Otedola is now set to take his Mojo and Midas Touch to the power sector and if the cosmos align with his plans, become king as he did in the oil and gas industry.