NOVA Merchant Bank gets investment rating

NOVA Merchant Bank Limited has received an investment grade rating from both Agusto & Co (Bbb) and Global Credit Ratings (BBB-). The reasons given for the bank’s rating include the strength of the board and management team, robust capitalisation, prudent risk profile, good asset quality and strong liquidity.

This achievement follows the publication of the bank’s financial results where it declared a profit after tax of N1.15billion for the year ended December 31, 2018, an increase from N510.6million in 2017.

Its Managing Director/CEO, Anya Duroha, said:  “The award of investment grade ratings by two leading rating agencies is another significant milestone in the history of the Bank. It further assists us in our plans to scale up our operations this year and deliver value to our customers and all other stakeholders”.

Its Chairman, Mr. Phillips Oduoza, said: “These ratings are further validation of the strength of the foundation which has been laid for the continued future success of the Bank. On behalf of the Board, I will like to commend the management team for all their effort in achieving this milestone debut rating record.”

NOVA Merchant Bank will continue to focus on delivering on its overarching philosophy of “New Thinking, New Opportunities” to sustainably grow its business as it seeks to assist its clients achieve their strategic objectives and re-establish merchant banking as a key economic driver in the country.

Chams, Dangote Flour, 19 others push stock market higher

Chams Plc, Dangote Flour Mills Plc and 19 other companies pushed the stock market higher on Tuesday reversing the losses recorded on Monday.

Investors gained N85.4bn as the market capitalisation of equities listed on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange increased from N11.078tn on Monday to N11.173tn on Tuesday, while the year-to-date return moderated to -5.4 per cent.

The All Share Index advanced by 0.85 per cent to settle at 29,746.24 basis points due to major price appreciation in Nestlé Nigeria Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

Activity level increased as volume and value traded rose by 43.4 per cent and 158 per cent to 321.357 million units and N4.657bn, respectively.

The top traded stocks by volume were Union Bank of Nigeria Plc (134.1 million units), GTB (61.1 million units) and African Alliance Insurance Plc (15 million units) while GTB (N2.2bn), Union Bank (N912.2m) and Dangote Cement Plc (N323.7m) were the top traded stocks by value.

Performance across sectors was largely positive as four out of five indices closed on a positive note.

The oil and gas index emerged as the lone laggard, dipping by 0.1 per cent due to sell-offs in Oando Plc.

On the flip side, the banking index led the gainers, up by 1.7 per cent on the back of continued bargain hunting on GTB and Zenith Bank.

The consumer goods index gained 1.2 per cent on the back of major gains recorded in Nestlé and Dangote Flour Mills.

Similarly, the insurance index appreciated by 0.7 per cent as Custodian Investment Plc and Linkage Assurance Plc witnessed buying interest.

The industrial goods index closed flat with a bullish bias, marginally gaining one basis point.

Investor sentiment strengthened to 2.1x from the 1.5x recorded on Monday as 21 stocks advanced against 10 decliners.

The top five gainers were Chams, Dangote Flour Mills, Transnationwide Express Plc, Africa Prudential Plc and Sterling Bank Plc with respective gains of 10 per cent, 9.78 per cent, 9.33 per cent, 8.01per cent and 5.38 per cent.

The top five losers were John Holt Plc, Royal Exchange Plc, AG Leventis Plc, May and Baker Nigeria Plc and International Breweries Plc, whose respective share prices shed 9.62 per cent, 8.70 per cent, 7.14 per cent, 5.26 per cent and 2.13 per cent.

Analysts at Afrinvest Securities Limited said due to the positive sentiment in the equities market, they expected more sideways trading sessions.

They advised investors to continue guardedly hunting for bargains.

Bank of Industry provides N3bn to Jaiz Bank for MSMEs

The Bank of Industry on Tuesday provided a N3bn financing facility to Jaiz Bank Plc for the development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector of the economy.

The fund would be given as loans to small business operators to grow their businesses and create wealth for the economy.

The BoI’s Executive Director, Shekarau Omar, said part of the reasons for providing the facility to Jaiz Bank was BOI’s conviction that the funds would be disbursed to the target group.

He said BoI understood the importance of MSMEs to the development of the economy, adding that this was why the drive to provide the sector with the much needed funding.

In line with the conviction of the management of BoI that the MSME sector held the key to economic development, the bank was ready to work with financial institutions that are willing to support the sector to achieve its potential of job creation and poverty reduction.

He said: “We are ready to partner with institutions that are ready to support and develop areas that needed support.

“We are comfortable this N3bn will help Nigeria grow. Executive it and come for more.”

He stated that BoI was already in the partnership with 16 different financial institutions and so far had disbursed N3.8bn .

Receiving the cheque from the BoI, Jaiz Bank’s Managing Director, Hassan Usman, assured that the fund would be disbursed to the targeted beneficiaries

Hassan said, “Fundamental to the vision and mission of Jaiz Bank is to create wealth for MSMEs. I want to assure you that maximum benefits will be to the stakeholders.

“We have already started pilot financial inclusion drive. We are also going to use agency banking to reach those people in places where we are not physically present. We are also intervening to provide finance to women group.”

Customs begin recruitment of 3,200 officers

The Nigeria Customs Service will from Wednesday (today) begin the process of recruiting about 3,200 personnel to fill existing vacancies within the agency.

The move is part of on-going reforms being implemented in the last four years under the leadership of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (retd).

Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday at the headquarters of the service, the Acting Deputy Comptroller-General, Human Resources, Customs, Umar Sanusi, said the time had come when the human resources requirements for implementing the reforms needed to be addressed.

He said the recruitment had already received the backing of the Federal Executive Council, noting that those who meet the requirements irrespective of tribe, religion and state would be considered for employment.

Giving a breakdown of the 3,200 personnel to be recruited, he said that 800 Nigerians would be recruited as support staff for Superintendent Cadre while the balance of 2,400 would be employed under Customs Inspector and Customs Assistant cadre in the general duty categories.

He said, “Following the necessary approval from the Federal Executive Council, Nigeria Customs Service is now set to recruit officers and men to fill existing vacancies.

“Like all recruitment into positions in Federal Government agencies, applications for recruitment will be open to all eligible Nigerians who meet the requirements irrespective of their tribe, religion, state or any other consideration.

“In our bid to ensure equal and fair opportunity to all applicants, we are working every step of the recruitment process in compliance with the requirements of the Federal Character Commission.”

He assured that the service would conduct a recruitment exercise “that is credible, fair and transparent.”

Sanusi also said the Nigeria Customs service would also deploy all machineries within its powers to ensure that the integrity of the recruitment process was not compromised.

He said the recruitment exercise would be free for all participants as no application fees would be required from anyone.

AMCON MD Honoured By Arewa Youth Assembly

The  Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA) has presented the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr. Ahmed Lawan Kuru, with Heroes of Nigeria Platinum Leadership Award of 2019.

Speaking at the presentation at the corporate head office of AMCON Abuja recently, Comrade Mohammed Danlami, who led a nine-man delegation to the corporation, said that the AMCON MD was chosen for the award for his “integrity, unique leadership prowess that have come to bear at AMCON since he assumed office at the government recovery agency.”

 While presenting the award, which was received on behalf of the MD by the duo of Usman Abubakar, Head General Support Services and Mr. Jude Nwauzor, Head Corporate Communications, Comrade Mohammed said Kuru deserved the award because he was singled out as a leader who through his assignment at the corporation, is contributing to the socio-economic development of the country, by ensuring stability in the banking sector, the capital market, which are critical to the growth of the Nigerian economy

 Describing Kuru as the ‘epitome of good leadership and the ultimate symbol of a true and ideal Nigerian nation,’ Danlami said his ability to work and lead people from all walks of life; different religions and ethic differences without any bias, were some of the characteristics AYA considered before nominating him for the all-important honour. He said that AYA would forever admire Kuru’s contribution to nation building, youth empowerment, focused leadership, educational development and community mentorship.

 The AYA recognition is the third time the AMCON boss would be honoured in 2019. Earlier in January, he received the Businessday Excellence in Public Service Awards for distinguishing himself in the performance of his duties in 2018. Subsequently, he also received the Sir Ahmadu Bello Youth Council of Nigeria (ABYCN) Award for being a worthy representation of humanitarian service and exemplary leadership in the country.

Heritage Bank Honours Outgoing Chief Compliance Officer

It was rain of accolades for the outgoing General Manager and Chief Compliance Officer of Heritage Bank Plc, Mr. Adewumi Adeniyi, yesterday as management colleagues praised him for his exceptional contribution to the growth of the sector after an unbroken stint of 37 years of working in the banking industry.

Speaking at the send forth party at the corporate headquarters of the bank, Executive Director South West, Heritage Bank, Mr. Jude Monye,described the celebrant, fondly called Oga Wumi by his colleagues, as an embodiment of everything called Heritage Bank as well as being a consummate banker of note.

According to him, Adeniyi  is a man that will stand by anyone at any time and on any day because he has a caring heart.

 “He cares for his colleagues, both senior and junior members of staff of the bank and he is also full of compassion,” Monye said.

The newly appointed Chief Compliance Officer for Heritage Bank, Mrs. Oluwatomi Ojo, in her remarks on the occasion, described Oga Wumi in glowing terms.

“Our relationship was very cordial. He is someone who has extensive banking experience in various areas. He is also someone that is extremely matured, calm, thinks rationally and very strategic.

“People that worked with him also received the fatherly touch but he is also a firm professional who is not afraid to take the unpopular decision when circumstances call for it. He is a well-rounded leader and very compassionate to his colleagues both at personal and official levels.”

In his remarks, Mr. Adeniyi appreciated the board and management of the bank for the honour and also thanked God for such a memorable day.

While assuring his now former colleagues that he is just a phone call away, Mr. Adeniyi encouraged them to carry on professionally and to occupy the space that God has given them. He noted that the send forth party appears to be more elaborate than any other he had experienced as a worker in the bank.

Saying he would greatly miss the people who worked with him, he encouraged them to continue to provide leadership for the bank and to work towards the achievement of the common goals of the organisation so that customers and shareholders of the bank could continue to enjoy better services and returns on their investments.

Adeniyi who is also a council member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) went down memory lane saying, “My banking experience has been very exciting. I started my career with UBA in 1982. I have spent 37 years in the industry, passing through the various phases that characterise the industry during the period and one is still standing. Surely, it is by God’s grace.”

Nigeria’s Inflation Decelerates To 11.25% In March

Stories by Udo Onyeka, Lagos

Nigeria’s consumer inflation decelerates to 11.25 percent in March, compared with 11.31 percent in February.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) yesterday reported that Nigeria’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation rate, dipped to 11.25 per cent (year-on-year) in March, representing 0.06 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in February.

The Bureau in its “CPI and Inflation Report’’ stated that  increases were recorded in all Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP) divisions that yielded the Headline index for the month.

A further analysis of the CPI on a month-on-month basis, showed that the Headline Index increased by 0.79 per cent in March 2019, this higher than the 0.73 percent rate recorded in the preceding month.

According to the agency, the percentage change in the average composite CPI for the period of 12 months ending in March over the previous 12 months was 11.40 percent, indicating 0.16 percent point from 11.56 per cent recorded in February.

The report indicated further that the urban inflation rate increased by 11.54 per cent (year-on-year) in March from 11.59 per cent recorded in February while rural inflation rate increased by 10.99 per cent in March from 11.05 per cent in February.

On a month-on-month basis, the NBS stated that the urban index rose by 0.81 per cent in March, up by 0.05 from 0.76 percent recorded in the preceding month. In addition, it disclosed that the rural index rose by 0.77 per cent in March, up by 0.06 from the rate recorded in February (0.71) per cent.

By implication, the corresponding 12-month year-on-year average percentage change for the urban index stood at 11.78 per cent in March, lower than the 11.95 percent recorded in February. Also, the corresponding rural inflation rate in March was reported by the Bureau as 11.08 percent compared to 11.23 percent recorded in February.

The CPI measures the average change over time in prices of goods and services consumed by people for day-to-day living in a country.

AGF Assures On Payment Of Promotion Arrears

Image result for AGF Assures On Payment Of Promotion ArrearsStories by Udo Onyeka

….Over  N37bn Saved From Measure Taken Plug leakages

The Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris has reassured civil servants in the Country of the commitment of Office of the Accountant –General of the Federation to the continued payment of promotion arrears owed Federal civil servants as  directed by the President.

Idris gave this assurance recently in Abuja when he played host to the National Executive of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria who were on a courtesy visit.

The Nation’s  Treasurer, revealed that following Mr. President’s directive that N10 billion be set aside monthly, commencing from May 2017 to offset backlog of Promotion Arrears, that the  OAGF inaugurated an in-house committee to verify MDAs’ claims and submissions.

According to him “the Committee has saved over N37 billion from misapplications, paddings, mistakes and non-compliance by MDAs to the agreed template.  So far, the committee has paid out the sum of N42 billion, out of the N55 billion released leaving an outstanding of N13 billion in cash while a total of N35 billion is yet to be released to the office”.

Furthermore, the AGF promised that he will bring the concerns of the Association to the notice of the Minister of Finance and will also dialogue with the Director General  Budget Office, to ensure that Government continues to keep its part of the agreement reached with Association in order to ensure industrial harmony.

He commended the leadership of the Association of Senior Civil Servants for their understanding and support in the implementation of government plans and programmes, saying without industrial harmony no meaningful development can be achieved.

The AGF equally commended the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation’s arm of the Association for their understanding and support assuring them of his continued commitment to improving the welfare of the Staff through the implementation of people oriented programme.

Earlier, the National President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria,( ASCSN), represented by the National Vice President,  Comrade Bola Audu Innocent,  extolled the leadership qualities of Mr. Ahmed Idris, saying he had  displayed professionalism in managing the Nation’s Treasury.

 “ We as a Union, that Unionizes Senior Staff in public service is proud of your achievements and contribution to nation building at this level”  Comrade Bola Audu emphasized.

He however informed the AGF that their visit was necessitated by recent developments  from the payment of outstanding promotion, salaries, and other arrears owed civil servants in the  public service, where the association understood that concerns raised by DG Budget Office is leading to delay in the continued payment of the arrears.

Comrade Bola Audu explained  that failure of the Government to continue to honour the agreement signed in May 2017, may lead to industrial unrest.

Banks’ secured credit to household rose in Q1 — CBN

The availability of secured credit to households increased in the first quarter of 2019 and was expected to increase in the next quarter, according to the Q1 2019 Credit Conditions Survey Report by the statistics department of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

According to the survey, improving economic outlook was the major factor for the increase in secured credit.

Lenders reported that the availability of unsecured credit to households increased in Q1 2019, but it was expected to contract in Q2 2019.

Most lenders adduced higher appetite for risk for this increase, according to the survey.

The overall availability of credit to the corporate sector increased in Q1 2019 and was expected to increase in the next quarter.

Demand for secured lending for house purchase decreased in Q1 2019, but more lenders expected demand for secured lending to increase in the next quarter.

The survey said the proportion of loan applications approved increased even though lenders tightened the credit scoring criteria.

Demand for total unsecured lending from households increased in Q1 2019, and was expected to increase in the next quarter.

Despite lenders’ resolve to leave the credit scoring criteria unchanged, the proportion of approved unsecured loan applications decreased in the current quarter but was expected to increase in the next quarter.

Lenders reported increased demand for corporate credit from all firm sizes in Q1 2019.

They also expect increased demand from all firm sizes in the next quarter.

According to the survey, secured loan performance, as measured by default rates, improved in the review quarter, and lenders still expect lower default rates in the next quarter.

Total unsecured loan performance to households, as measured by default rates, deteriorated in Q1 2019 but was expected to improve in the next quarter.

Corporate loan performance improved across all sizes of firms in the current quarter.

Lenders generally expected lower default rates for all firm sizes in the next quarter.

It stated that lenders reported that the overall spreads on secured lending rates on approved new loans to households relative to MPR remained unchanged in Q1 2019, and was expected to narrow in the next quarter.

“The overall spreads on unsecured lending widened in Q1 2019 but were expected to remain unchanged in the next quarter,” it stated.

We’ve saved $21bn on food imports, says FG

The Federal Government on Tuesday announced that Nigeria saved $21bn on food imports in the last three and half years.

It also stated that the country increased the export of its agricultural produce by 500 per cent within the period under review.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this in his office in Abuja while playing host to officials of the Bank of Agriculture, as well as those from the Bureau of Public Enterprises.

The government officials and other participants at the meeting also discussed how to recapitalise the BOA in order make it efficient and effective in the agricultural sector.

Ogbeh said, “Two banks in Nigeria announced that we have actually saved $21bn on food imports in three and half years, and the National Bureau of Statistics has affirmed that agriculture exportation has gone up to 500 per cent since we came in, and we are just beginning.”

The minister said the country needed value addition and cottage industries, as these would help decongest most cities in Nigeria.

“This is important so that young people can be comfortable in their rural environments, make money and live a good life. We want to minimise the tendency of our young people crossing the desert to Europe in search of happiness which does not exist there,” Ogbeh added.

On the move to recapitalise the BOA, the minister expressed optimism that the bank after its recapitalisation would be large enough and would comfortably provide loans to farmers.

Ogbeh said, “We have a new vision for agriculture here; we want to create the farmers’ bank. This is their chance to become co-members and owners of the bank. It has a chance of becoming a very large bank in the future, just like the one in China.

“Failures in agriculture have been caused by a number of factors, sometimes the excessive interest rate and sometimes agronomic practices which are not in place or properly aligned, then, of course, there is the issue of management.”

He added, “The Ministry of Agriculture is also going to make sure that it gives support to the bank so that failures are minimised. If this structure we want to put in place now starts working successfully, and we raise a capital base of anything between N200bn to N250bn and farmers can access credit at the lower end of the single digit (lower than six or five per cent), we hope to achieve a lot of things.”