MTN signs N200bn loan facility with seven banks

MTN Nigeria Communications Plc has signed a N200bn medium-term loan facility with a consortium of seven banks.

The Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mr Ferdi Moolman, while speaking at the signing ceremony, stated that the loan facility would enable MTN to fund its evolving business opportunities while assisting with capital expenditure and working capital to deliver enhanced customer service.

The banks involved are Access Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

This loan facility follows the establishment of a similar N200bn loan facility signed by MTN last year as a part of its wider programme to raise domestic debt.

Moolman said, “This signposts MTN’s commitment to and confidence in Nigeria, and the strength of the strategic collaboration between MTN Nigeria and local financial institutions that will help deepen and broaden the provision of Information and Communications Technology services in Nigeria.

“This facility expands our existing successful domestic debt programme, which we are using to fund increased network capacity, and the expansion of both the voice and data services on our network to customers in new areas and with new next-generation services.”

He added that the company had enjoyed remarkable funding and support from financial institutions in Nigeria since its first facility in 2003.

Moolman said he was excited that the loan facility was coming after the company had listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

According to him, the loan facility is structured with a two-year moratorium and a repayment plan of seven years, denominated in Naira.

He disclosed that the loan facility was the eight syndicated facility signed by MTN since its inception 18 years ago.

Railway village: FEC approves N1.8bn for buildings’ rehabilitation

The Federal Executive Council has approved another N1.8bn for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of buildings at the Agbo Railway Village in Delta State.

The approval was made at the second FEC meeting held in the week, which ended on Thursday night.

The session was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday presided over the first FEC meeting for the week.

Another approval made by FEC was the sum of N743m for the procurement of security and safety equipment for the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.

Speaking with State House Correspondents on Thursday night, the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, explained that the procurement would commence and be completed within 12 months.

He also said another N391.8m was approved for the procurement of pavement marking machines.

Sirika spoke more on the safety equipment, “This is a visual aid for pilots for safe operations around our airports.”

He added that €1.1m was approved for the purchase of a total radar coverage track-on system reconditioning.

The minister explained, “This contract went to the manufacturer of the equipment for 1, 187, 960, 000 Euros, equivalent to N414, 543, 760.23, excluding taxes and it is for seven months’ completion.”

The Federal Capital Territory also benefited from the FEC approvals as it got N2.6bn for various contracts in the FCT, including the “provision of an access road to link very key anterior roads in the Central Business District, that is Ahmadu Bello Way and Sani Abacha Way, all in the FCT, in the sum of N670, 347, 909 with a completion period of six months.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of the FCT, Mr Mohammed Bello, defended the demolition of a night club, Caramelo Lounge, by the FCDA’s Department of Development Control.

The building was pulled down on Monday on the grounds of operating as a night club in a residential area.

The police had also arrested strippers at the club.

Bello defended the demolition, claiming that it was the last resort after the owner breached building regulations.

He noted that while the original approval was for a clinic, the owner converted it into a night club for strippers.

Bello spoke further, “I am quite interested also with the way I see the feedback from the wider community.

“I have had cause to discuss with many of your colleagues (journalists) where many people felt that this minister (Bello) has not been demolishing.

“As a matter of fact, he is not demolishing so he is not working’ – it is due process, my brother.

“If you check the record, you will be surprised how long it took to reach that painful decision of having to demolish that building.

“As a matter of fact, all the regulations were there – that property is no longer owned, it has been reverted to the government because it is very clear. Check any C-of-O, you will see the conditions.”

“If there is a flagrant abuse and there are no efforts to correct that abuse, it reverts back to the government.

“But I want you to rest assured that for every demolition you see, maybe a hundred were saved.”

NIGERIA’S EXTERNAL RESERVE HIT $44.69bn – Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed

…says FG to soon disburse N649.434bn Paris Club refunds to states
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, on Thursday, disclosed that Nigeria’s external reserve now stands at $44.69 billion as at May 13, 2019,  up from $28.3billion in 2015.
 The Minister disclosed this in a statement by her Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Mr Paul Ella Abechi, in her opening remarks at the quarterly World Press Conference, held in Abuja.
She said similarly, year-on-year inflation rates continue to improve from a high rate of 18.7 per cent in January 2017 to 11.37 per cent in April 2019.
The Minister also disclosed that states will soon receive their outstanding balance of the Paris Club debts refunds based on the verification made on a total sum of N649.434 billion by the Ministry.
“For the final phase of the Paris Club debts refunds, the total sum of N649.434 billion was verified by the Ministry as the outstanding balance to be refunded to the State Governments.
“The payments made by the CBN as at March 2019, is N691.560 billion. The increase in CBN payments partly arose from exchange rate differential at the point of payment. Although, some States still have outstanding balances, which will be refunded in due course.”
According to her through the implementation of policies in the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP) which the Buhari-led administration has developed in 2017 led to the economy’s exit from recession and move upwards on a path of sustainable, inclusive and diversified growth.
She further maintained that it is the resolve of the Ministry 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, and ultimately of co-creating a Nigeria where no one is left behind.
She said: “Our External Reserves on the other hand, grew from $28.3 billion in 2015 to US $44.69 billion as at May 13, 2019 representing significant improvement that has helped stabilize the economy, including our currency exchange rates. Our FX market remained relatively stable from 2017 with the convergence of the NIFEX and NAFEX windows witnessed by November 2018.
“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.
“As Minister of Finance, I have taken on the President’s important call to action, by prioritizing revenue generation, and formally launching in January 2019, the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives, a suite of comprehensive and cross-cutting interventions aimed at boosting revenue performance.
“I am pleased to share that we have made significant progress since launching the initiatives and I look forward to providing details later in my remarks.”
She also added that the Ministry has 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.”
However, the Minister acknowledged that the expenditure performance cannot be in isolation of revenues, which as a result expenditure outturn largely depends on government’s ability to generate budgeted revenues with deficits funded through borrowings.
“In 2018 our budgeted revenue was N7.2 trillion this is against the realised figure of N3.96 trillion, signifying a negative variance of 45%. Despite this shortfall we have been able to fully pay salaries and service 100% of our debt. We have also released seven months overhead for 2018, two months for 2019, and N2.079 trillion capital expenditure as at 14th May 2019.
“We have adopted a prudent debt management strategy which ensures that we invest what we borrow 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.”
The Minister maintained that on global risks, the Ministry will continue to remain focused on taking key mitigating actions to safeguard the economy and ensure it is “resilient to external shocks.”
“We will continue to monitor key global risks, and the Federal Ministry of Finance is focused on taking key mitigating actions to safeguard the economy and ensure it is resilient to external shocks.
“As anticipated, the global economy has slowed down in 2019 with a revised growth projection of 3.3%. This trajectory is mirrored in Africa, with the continent projected to grow slightly more at 3.5% in the same year.
“Commodity based economies including Nigeria are expected to continue recovery from the rapid commodity crash witnessed from 2014 to 2016.”
She further explained that, “This development represents challenging times amidst this year’s volatility in oil prices that has fallen from $86/barrel in October to $62/barrel in December when I gave my last Press Conference, and risen to a five-month high of above $71/barrel as at April 2019. While oil prices are expected to remain within the average range of $70/barrel, continued volatility is expected through the end of 2019.”
Speaking on ongoing reforms carried out by her Ministry at the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and the Joint Tax Board (JTB), she said with the reforms the country’s taxpayer database has been expanded to 35 million from 9 million in the four years of the Buhari-led administration.
“Through reforms at the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and the Joint Tax Board (JTB), we have been able to harmonize the Tax Identity Number (TIN) database to cover Federal, States and Local Governments to establish a unified identity number system for uniquely identifying tax payers.
“In essence, the country’s taxpayer database has been expanded to 35 million from 9 million at the beginning of the administration. It is anticipated that this figure will grow to 45 million individual and corporate payers when the ongoing integration of different biometric databases is completed”, she said.
AfDB seeks more investment in technology

African Development Bank (AfDB) Vice-president, Private Sector, Infrastructure and IndustrialiSation, Pierre Guislain, has advised Africa to explore the opportunities in digital economy and technology.

In a statement, he explained that with Africa’s digital economy taking off exponentially, the continent must ready itself to maximize the potential dividends of the Continental Free Trade Area agreement.

Key to this effort will be connectivity, data and digitization and innovation, among others, he told conference attendees.

“Africa can achieve a digital single market…It is a journey and we need to break it up into doable bits,  he said, adding that the European Union had demonstrated that it could be achieved.

Also, World Bank Digital Director, Boutheina Guermazi, said: “ICT and digital literacy is not a luxury. It is an integral part of how we view development,” adding that the foundations of the digital economy – connectivity, data and voice, would depend on a fully integrated digital infrastructure.

With the ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, the possibility of new markets offer tantalizing new avenues for tech start-ups and e-businesses and a combined GDP of over $600 billion.

The internet has opened doors to access information and technology, a key component of accelerating the pace of the digital economy and connecting markets. Interconnection and interoperability create bigger markets which in turn attract investors.

The mobile phone industry is an example of the dynamism of the sector in Africa. Mobile phone subscriptions have grown in Africa from 87 million in 2005 to 760 million in 2017, growing 20 per cent per annum. This is the fastest growing market in the world as well as the one with the most potential. Mobile network coverage ranges from 10 to 99 per cent in Africa – an average of 70 per cent.

Africa’s pioneering efforts in the FinTech space are illustrated by the fact that around half the world’s mobile money providers operate in sub-Saharan Africa, where as many as 80 per cent of adults have a mobile phone. By 2020, the value of Africa’s mobile money industry is projected to top $14 billion.

Single window schemes and One Stop Border Posts will accelerate intra-African trade, Guislain said, but openness and competition need to be promoted and defended, he added.

NACCIMA EMPOWERS OVER 50,000 YOUTHS ENTREPRENEURS 

From right:Temutope And, PRO, NACCIMA Export Promotion Group,  DG of NACCIMA, Outgoing President,Alaba Lawson, Member Export Promotion Group of NACCIMA, Oladapo And and others at the Ide John C. Uduagbala Business Centre at NACCIMA's head office in Lagos
From right:Temutope And, PRO, NACCIMA Export Promotion Group, DG of NACCIMA, Outgoing President,Alaba Lawson, Member Export Promotion Group of NACCIMA, Oladapo And and others at the Ide John C. Uduagbala Business Centre at NACCIMA’s head office in Lagos
National Association of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture,NACCIMA, outgoing President, Alaba Lawson has expressed satisfaction with her tenure in NACCIMA.
Speaking with Commerce and Industry Correspondents during the commissioning of Ide John Udeagbala Business Center at NACCIMA Head office in Lagos she said the most memorable achievement of her two year tenure was the inauguration of NACCIMA Youth Entrepreneurs.
She noted that the unemployment rate is still high and there are few white collar jobs hence the move to catch them young and teach them how to become entrepreneurs using their talents.
“The white collar jobs are no longer there. So I inaugurated them and put some of them in place of position to mentor them, to make sure they use their talents. We linked with some Agencies like FIIRO, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, amongst others to build their capacities, training, workshops which brought out their talents”she said.
 Lawson stated that the youth Entrepreneur centre are currently in 17 states and training over 50 thousand youth Entrepreneurs, while more are still joining.
She added that another great achievement of her time in office was ensuring that NACCIMA Export Promotion Group was result oriented.
“Another thing is that NACCIMA Export Promotion Group is doing extremely well. To improve our Gross Domestic Project, GDP, you need to have very good strong export group that will obey the rules and regulations of each country, so that we can compete favourably all over the world,” she said.
Lawson however called on standards agencies of the government like National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, and Standards Organization of Nigeria, SON, to ensure that the quality of Nigerian products are of international standard and can compete favourably with others in the global market.
She said the move will ensure Nigerian goods are e
xportable.
Stanbic IBTC to invest in steel industry

Stanbic IBTC and Standard Chartered Bank are set to invest in Nigeria’s steel and solid materials industry.

Team leader of the Stanbic IBTC and Standard Chartered Bank team, Mark Buncombe, explained that the bank is looking for opportunities to invest in the mining sector.

He spoke yesterday in Abuja when the team paid the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bwari, a visit.

He said: “The main aim of coming is to get a better understanding from the minister on the mining Industry, and the particular products that we should be looking out for as a bank especially iron ore and coal, and the additional opportunities that he will like the banking industry to support to grow the industry.”

Bwari informed the team that Nigeria has about 44 minerals that have been identified like gold, barite, limestone, tin, lithium, pantalite and manganese, among others.

The Minister also added that iron ore has been discovered in Katarogo, Kaduna State and that Nigeria has attained self-sufficiency in cement production, which it presently exports.

The minister said: “This is what we have been looking for to fund the industry in Nigeria. Today, we are trying to find out how much minerals we have in commercial quantities. We presently have a project, the integrated exploration project, where we prioritise some minerals like gold, tin, among others to ascertain their commercial value so that we can have bankable data that can attract investors.

“We have about 44 minerals that we have identified like gold, barite, limestone, tin, lithium, pantalite, and manganese, among others.

Seplat assures shareholders of higher returns

The board and management of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc have assured shareholders that the growth in the operations of the leading indigenous oil and gas company will lead to increased dividend payouts and share price appreciation in the years ahead.

At the annual general meeting yesterday in Lagos, the company reiterated its commitment to stronger growth in the oil and gas sector and increased returns to its shareholders.

Addressing the shareholders, Chairman, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc,  Dr Ambrose Orjiako, said the company’s 2018 operational and financial performance reflected the significantly higher levels of production uptime at its core oil producing assets combined with a firmer, albeit still volatile, oil price and increased contribution from the company’s gas business.

He noted that the company’s results from the previous two years were characterised by  the extended period of force majeure at the Forcados terminal from February 2016 to June 2017, pointing out that stable operations have positioned the company to deliver better results.

“As we enter 2019, our reliable production base, low unit cost of production and discretion over capital commitments will allow the business to remain highly free cash flow generative and profitable. In the absence of any major interruption or force majeure event, this will enable Seplat to honour its dividend policy and provide an attractive yield to our shareholders in addition to the potential for capital appreciation,” Orjiako said.

He said the company would selectively invest in low risk oil production drilling opportunities within the existing portfolio and the continued expansion of the gas business, with 2019 set to be the year that activity intensifies at the large scale Assa-North and Ohaji-South (ANOH) gas and condensate development.

According to him, Seplat remains an ambitious growth-orientated company that is in a position of strength to capture inorganic opportunities where it can leverage its competitive advantages to seek out carefully considered, price disciplined and value accretive acquisitions.

Chief Executive Officer, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, Mr. Austin Avuru, said Seplat has delivered an excellent operational and financial performance resulting in robust profitability and cash flow generation providing us with an extremely solid foundation for growth in the coming years.

According to him, at the company’s core assets in the West, OMLs 4, 38 and 41, the extension of the license to 2038 means that it can confidently plan and invest long into the future to realise the full potential of those blocks.

He outlined that as the company continues to enhance production and revenue diversification with new wells scheduled at OML 53 in the East, the board had taken the final investment decision to invest in the large scale ANOH gas and condensate development which will form the next phase of transformational growth for its gas business.

According to him, disciplined capital allocation continues to remain at the core of the company’s activities evidenced by its continual deleveraging of its debt levels to the current balance of $350 million.

“In 2018, Seplat reinstated the dividend, increased capital investments and with the resources and headroom in our capital structure, we are equipped to capitalise on organic and inorganic growth opportunities as they may arise,” Avuru said.

He also announced that Seplat board has taken the final investment decision for the ANOH and Amukpe to Escravos alternate export pipeline which will be completed and fully commissioned in second quarter of 2019.

“These projects are part of the future expansion initiatives of Seplat in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry,” Avuru said.

Seplat posted N228 billion turnover in the year ended December 31, 2018, 65 per cent growth on N137 billion recorded in the 2017. Profit before differed tax stood at N73 billion, indicating 480 per cent increase on N13 billion recorded in 2017. A review of Seplat 2018 results indicated positive performance across most financial indices, confirming the company’s position as one of the well managed indigenous oil firms in Nigeria. Gross profit grew by 84 per cent to N120 billion from N65 billion reported in 2017. Operating profit stood at N95 billion, representing a growth of 177 per cent on N34 billion recorded in 2017. Seplat’s net profit after tax however dipped by 45 per cent from N81 billion to N45 billion.  in December 2018. Seplat is paying a final dividend of $0.05 per share to all its shareholders.

Equities rebound on MTN listing

After eight consecutive negative trading sessions, the listing of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc yesterday at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) lifted the market to a gain of 0.54 per cent. A total of 20.35 billion ordinary shares of MTN Nigeria were listed by way of introduction on the premium board of the Exchange at N90 per share.

The scramble for the shares of the telco giant boosted the overall market position, although the general market performance remained bearish.  With initial listing value of N1.83 trillion and net capital gain of N183 billion, MTN Nigeria overwhelmed the bears to lift the aggregate market value of all quoted equities from its opening value of N10.627 trillion to close at N12.899 trillion. The All Share Index (ASI)- the main index that tracks share prices recovered from  its opening index of 28,286.08 points to close at 28,438.19 points. The negative average year-to-date return improved to -9.42 per cent.

A total of 5.54 million ordinary shares of MTN Nigeria valued at N548.6 million were traded in 15 deals.

With 25 losers against 11 gainers, the market remained largely bearish. All sectoral indices closed negative. The NSE Banking Index dropped by 1.71 per cent. The NSE Industrial Goods Index declined by 0.97 per cent. The NSE Consumer Goods Index dipped by 0.83 per cent. The NSE Oil & Gas Index slipped by 0.56 per cent while the NSE Insurance Index dipped by 0.05 per cent.

MTN Nigeria led the gainers with a gain of N9 to close at N99. Unilever Nigeria followed with a gain of N1 to close at N32. NPF Microfinance Bank placed third with a gain of 13 kobo to close at N1.47 while Union Bank of Nigeria added 10 kobo to close at N6.85 per share.

Nigerian Breweries led the losers with a drop of N2.50 to close at N62.50. Dangote Cement followed with a loss of N2 to close at N176. Guinness Nigeria declined by 95 kobo to close at N49.05. Guaranty Trust Bank lost 60 kobo to close at N31 while Zenith Bank dropped by 45 kobo to close at N19.55 per share.

“We reiterate our cautious trading pattern in the short term. Meanwhile, we believe stable macroeconomic fundamentals and compelling valuation remain supportive of recovery in the mid-to-long term,” Cordros Capital stated.

Total turnover stood at 312.4 million shares valued at N2.81 billion in 3,933 deals. The most active stock was Transnational Corporation of Nigeria with a turnover of 105.5 million shares. Access Bank followed with 23.5 million shares while FCMB Group placed third with 23.2 million shares.

Analysts at Afrinvest Securities said significant buying interest on the newly listed MTN Nigeria will help the market to maintain bullish performance as investors look to extend trade in MTN’s fundamentally sound stock.

 

Dia joins UBA Group Board

The United Bank for Africa(UBA) yesterday announced that Abdoul-Aziz Dia will join the bank’s Board of Directors subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Dia, a Senegalese citizen, has over 25 years of banking experience garnered from several countries across the globe including the United Kingdom, France, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Kenya and Cote D’Ivoire.

He has worked in senior management positions at international financial institutions such as the African Development Bank, Citigroup, Standard Chartered, Ecobank and UBA.

Dia has served in the capacity of Executive Director on various company Boards in Africa and in Europe and now joins the UBA Group as a non-Executive Director of the Board. He holds a Master’s Degree in Statistics and Financial Mathematics from ENSAE in Paris, France. He is fluent in six languages (French, English, Romanian, German, Wolof and Fulani).

‘Abdoul-Aziz Dia is a seasoned banker with a wealth of experience. He joins the UBA Board with a global outlook and I am confident that he has a vital role to play in the future of UBA and will add enormous value to the Group’s growth strategy’ said the UBA Group Chairman, Mr Tony Elumelu.

Reps, NPA differ on revenue loss at ports

The House of Representatives and the Nigerian Ports Authority have disagreed on the cause of the reduction in the number of cargoes arriving the country and the drop in revenue generated at the ports.

The Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Usman, while appearing before the House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways in Abuja on Thursday, said Federal Government policies were mostly responsible for the low traffic at the ports.

The Chairman of the committee, Pat Asadu, however, disagreed with Usman, saying she was just scratching the surface with her prognosis, stressing that there were more and stronger reasons for the country’s loss of revenue at the ports.

The NPA boss, however, said several items that used to be imported and consumed in Nigeria were now being produced in Nigeria, while others had been banned from importation to encourage local production and consumption.

Usman said, “We have noted a reduction in traffic coming into our ports. We attribute this to the fact that Nigeria has been advocating for self-sustenance in terms of manufacturing and consuming what it produces. And so, this attendant reduction in cargo, in our understanding, is attributable to that. Because some of the items that constitute this drop include, for example, the automobile policy which has increased the cost of importation of automobiles from 30 to 70 per cent, in order to stimulate manufacturing in Nigeria. So, there is a steep decline in the importation of vehicles.

“We also have an additional list of items that have been banned for importation. This is to try to stimulate production of certain items in the country and ensuring that most levels of agricultural produce are produced and consumed in Nigeria.

“So, you can see the number of ocean-going vessels is reducing. The agencies that work around revenue generation for the importation of cargo will be seen not to have performed.”

Not satisfied with the explanation, Asadu said, “I don’t want us to just dismiss this. You may want to look to see what other things are going on. I think, maybe, we should look at things like the efficiency of cargo clearance. We know what is going on with the congestions at the ports. I have no doubt in my mind that there are a lot of other factors.”

The lawmaker added that the euphoria that the country was producing more than importing certain items should not frustrate the efforts to seek proper solutions to the problems.