Newrest ASL seeks to delist from NSE

Newrest ASL Nigeria Plc has filed application seeking to delist its entire shares from the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The NSE yesterday confirmed that it has received application from the board of directors of Newsrest ASL, kick-starting the formal regulatory approval process for a voluntary delisting of its shares from the Exchange.

In the application filed by Newrest ASL’s stockbroker, Helix Securities Limited, the company is seeking to voluntary delist its entire 634 million ordinary shares of 50 kobo each from the Daily Official List of the Exchange.

Head, Listings Regulation, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Godstime Iwenekhai, stated that the voluntary delisting was due to inability of Newrest ASL to meet up with the 20 per cent free float requirement of the Exchange.

The company stated that in line with the provisions of extant rules, it has opened and deposited sufficient funds to settle minority shareholders in an Escrow Account with Zenith Bank Plc to be managed by Meristem Registrars Limited.

Rule 1.10 of the Rules for Delisting of Equity Securities from the Daily Official List of the Exchange states that: the Issuer shall set aside funds sufficient to purchase the interest of all shareholders who expressed their dissent to the resolution to de-list the Issuer; and the funds shall be domiciled with a Registrar or a Custodian duly registered by and in good standing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that over N688.35 billion has been recorded as the value of moveable assets registered on the National Collateral Registry  platform since inception.

CBN Governor,  Godwin Emefiele made this disclosure yesterday in Abuja at the 11th Annual Banking and Finance conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

According to Emefiele, “since the commencement of active cooperation in May 2016, 552 financial institutions have registered 32,645 financing statements valued at over N688.35 billion, $33.4 million and €60 million on the platform.” The CBN Governor described the National Collateral Registry as one of the programmes that makes funds available to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sub-sector of the economy.

He said the National Collateral Registry “is a financial infrastructure introduced to support the crippling market by enabling micro enterprises to use their moveable assets as collateral for bank loans.”

He said, “I am very optimistic that the collateral registry will have tremendous impacts on MSME lending in Nigeria and in the foreseeable future. “This is especially considering with the recent launching of the economic recovery and growth plan which intends to leverage on the power of the private sector in its economic recovery and transformative growth by prioritizing all MSME’s in all critical sectors as a significant source of long term growth.”

Other intervention programmes initiated to support the development of MSME funding in the country he said include: Small and Medium Enterprise creative guarantee scheme; and the Entrepreneurship Development Center.

Godwin Emefiele then challenged banks and other financial institutions to come up with innovative ways to fund the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sub-sector of the economy.

The CBN governor urged all participants at the conference to debate constructively on the ways to further support MSMEs in Nigeria to be able to perform their primary role of enhancing economic growth and inclusive development.

Akwa Ibom acquires three aircraft for Ibom airline

As part of the industrialisation policy of the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration, the Akwa Ibom State has taken delivery of three aircraft for the take-off of Ibom Airline.

Speaking at the inauguration of the aircraft at the Victor Attah International Airport in Uyo yesterday,  Emmanuel said the airline was a monumental achievement in the state.

He said the aircraft, C-FWNK is only six years old with a sitting capacity of about 90 persons and constitutes the newest and modern fleet of the Canadian airbus.

He said  that Akwa Ibom is the only state in the country to run a state-owned airport and run an airline, adding that the government is running Ibom Air as a business.

He said Ibom Airline will operate routes that would give preference to Akwa Ibom people, and that the government would soon launch one of the best terminal buildings in the country.

He said the government is  focussing on development of the economy on land, air and water, saying so far, the government has constructed over 1,000 kilometers of roads across the state.

Governor Emmanuel said one other aircraft would arrive on Friday in addition to the already unveiled two, pointing out that the Ibom Deep Seaport will soon commence operations before the expiration of his second term in 2023.

He said the launching of Ibom Air is a monumental achievement in Akwa Ibom and indeed Africa. The journey to achieve Ibom Airline started in 2016 and today, it is a reality.

“If we were to search the minds of people, this day would have been frustrated but we give glory to God for making this day a reality.

“I want to charge my people that we can achieve a lot if we come together. This is the only state across the country that runs and operate an international airport. We are the only state that runs a category two runway.

“I want to reassure the former governor, Obong Victor Attah that very soon the MRO will be a place that will maintain fleet of aircraft across the country,” he said.

We are running Ibom Air as a business, paying particular attention to Akwa Ibom people,” he said.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who was the first passenger that arrived the airport in the new aircraft, unveiled the airplane and commended the leadership qualities of the state governor, noting that he has been able to create an environment viable for development.

NCC, ONSA go tough on fraudulent mobile devices

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) have resolved to go after unscrupulous elements who use mobile devices to defraud unsuspecting telecoms subscribers.

To achieve this, the two agencies, working in collaboration with others, yesterday in Abuja, set up two joint committees. The committees are the Project Steering Committee (PSC), comprising the Infrastructure Concession & Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the Federal Ministry of Communications and the NCC; and the Project Delivery Team (PDT) which draws representation from the Federal Ministry of Communications, the ICRC, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the NCC.

The committees, with specific terms of references, are to work together to ensure the implementation of Mobile Devices Management Systems (DMS), a Public-Private Partnership project, aimed at combatting the proliferation of fake, counterfeit, substandard and cloned mobile communications devices in the telecommunication industry.

While inaugurating the committees in Abuja, CEO of NCC,  Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the move was in line with the mandate of the Commission, as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003, to type-approve all devices used in the telecommunications industry and to ensure that all devices used in the telecommunications industry are in line with agreed standards and specifications.

Oil rallies to $67

Oil prices hit new highs yesterday, bouncing back from a morning slump after the United States (U.S.) government said shale output would rise to a record next month.

Brent futures rose 79 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to $67.24 a barrel, surpassing Monday’s high for the year of $66.83.

U.S. futures were up 99 cents, 1.8 per cent, at $57.08 a barrel, after hitting a new intra-day high going back to late November.

Nigeria, which has $60 budget benchmark for this year, is willing to reduce oil output to help secure higher prices, spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement yesterday, after an envoy from Saudi Arabia called on the African nation to adhere to a deal on production cuts.

In January, the country pumped well above the quota it previously agreed to. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer.

Chevron bags NIPS awards

Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), operator of the NNPC/CNL Joint Venture, has won two awards at the   industry dinner and awards night, organised by the Nigerian Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) in Abuja. The awards were in recognition of the company’s outstanding performance.

The awards won by CNL are: “for contributions to the hydrocarbons industry, and the Foreign Investment Network’ (FIN)“.

CNL Chairman and Managing Director, Jeff Ewing, received the two awards. The first award was presented by the Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, while the second was presented by FIN Chief Executive Officer, Michael Dragoyevich.

The event was attended by dignitaries such as Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Petroleum Ministers from other countries, including Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Cote D’Ivoire, Chad, Niger Republic, Togo and Norway. There were others such as NNPC representatives, industry regulators, participants from other African countries, and other industry players.

CNL General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs (PGPA) Esimaje Brikinn, who spoke at the event, expressed joy over the awards.

He explained that the NNPC/CNL Joint Venture is a major oil and gas producer and has provided substantial revenue to NNPC, the Federal Government and state governments for over 50 years.

He also said the company is the leading domestic gas supplier and has made great strides in putting out gas flares and increasing supply to the domestic market through its integrated gas development projects.  “Chevron is the largest domestic gas supplier in Nigeria,” he said.

On corporate responsibility, Mr. Brikinn said CNL has demonstrated its commitment to the ideals of meeting the needs of the community in health, education, economic development areas.

“CNL has provided thousands of scholarship awards worth billions of naira to Nigerian students. CNL has also established the scholarship for the Blind to cater for the visually-impaired students,” he noted

Heritage Bank debuts ‘HB LAB’ tech start-ups to boost economic growth …As winner gets $25, 000 grant, other benefits

Image result for Heritage Bank debuts ‘HB LAB’ tech start-ups to boost economic growth …As winner gets $25, 000 grant, other benefits
Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s most innovative banking service provider, adopts a focused approach that removes barriers and galvanizes the critical sector of the economy around a bold growth agenda with the launching of its innovation accelerator programme tagged, “HB LAB”.
The maiden edition of HB LAB is a 12-week programme, expected to provide technology startups with enabling environment, resources and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions with the potential to radically improve financial Inclusion/Intermediation, agriculture and other related problems affecting critical sectors of the economy.
The application portal which was launched on the 31st January 2019 closed on the 14th February 2019.
About 154 applicants who applied were reviewed and 24 of them scored above 60, whilsts the final selection will produce seven successful applicants, which the winner will emerge.
Speaking on the HB LAB, the MD/CEO of the bank, Ifie Sekibo explained that in Nigeria, technology startups still account for a relatively small share of all businesses, but they have an outsized impact on economic growth, because they provide better-paying, longer-lasting jobs than other start-ups, and they contribute more to innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.
He disclosed that the team with the most compelling solution will be awarded a $25,000 grant alongside access to workspace and IT infrastructure for solution testing and development for a defined period.
According to him, the HB Innovation Lab Programme is open to product development teams and technology driven startups across Nigeria.
Sekibo stated that the critical areas of focus are Fintech, agriculture, education, digital, security and power, whilst noting that the application requirements include names, age, gender, contact number, home and email addresses of the participants.
Meanwhile, for participants who have previously enlisted to participate in any entrepreneurial/innovation programme with a current website or demo reference point, were expected to discuss idea/solution not more than 140-character limit.
Also, such participant   discussed problem statement (not more than 140-character limit), ideation/solution stage (not more than 140 characters), target market (Max 150 words), any challenge(s) faced requiring professional intervention (Max. 150 words), introduced its team (Max 150 words) and upload business plan.
Declare Nationwide Data of Permanent Voters Cards Collection, BudgIT Tells INEC

Image result for Declare Nationwide Data of Permanent Voters Cards Collection, BudgIT Tells INEC

Without any travesty, the administrative and political tensions surrounding the 2019 general elections are manifest threats to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.

In the presence of contentious accusations of rigging – flying from both sides of the political divide – coupled with the abrupt ‘logistic’ failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), we are deeply worried about the secrecy in which the major data that can safeguard the elections from possible manipulations is being confined.

According to the electoral commission, there are 84 million registered voters for the general elections. However, questions from both local and international observers remain: What is the total number of collected voters cards across the country?

It is instructive that “84 million registered voters” is vague and susceptible to manipulation the very moment Nigerians are barred from the actual data of collected PVCs. Fifty-two million as of February 17, 2015, this data was published – regular updates in fact – in the last elections. The hesitation today by INEC to do the needful casts immense doubts around its integrity, therefore, the credibility of the upcoming elections.

We’re calling, once again, on INEC to publish immediately the total number of voters cards collected in all states. In the pursuance of fair elections, this is the right thing. Nigerians should, amidst many uncertainties, have data of expected votes.

NSE to launch new trading platform for mutual funds

Authorities at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) will this weekend launch a new trading platform for collective investment schemes (CIS), otherwise known as mutual funds.

The platform is expected to facilitate electronic transactions with seamless connection among key parties in transactions, including the Exchange, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), stockbrokers and fund managers.

The NSE said the new platform aims to improve and enhance access of listed mutual funds to investors.

“The overarching goal is to enhance visibility for the listed funds and promote financial inclusion, while stimulating retail investor participation in our market,” the NSE said.

The new platform is also expected to engender listing of more mutual funds at the Exchange.

The Nigerian mutual fund industry is a growing market as fund managers continue to float new funds to provide alternative investment windows for the investing public. Official report by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed that there were some 74 registered mutual funds in Nigeria with total net asset value (NAV) of about N552 billion as at April 20, 2018. There are 47 mutual funds listed on the Memorandum Quotation of the NSE.

A mutual fund is a pool of funds brought together by a professional fund manager from several investors to invest in selected underlying securities. The underlying securities can be one or a combination of the following: stocks, fixed income securities, real estate and commodities. A mutual fund portfolio is structured and maintained to match different investment objectives. The type of mutual fund an individual invests in depends on their financial objectives and appetite for risk.

As professionally-managed joint investment vehicles through which investors can pool funds and invest in chosen basket of securities, mutual funds have proven to be a veritable means to optimise returns and reduce risks. With track records of above-average returns and stable performance, mutual funds provide common window for all cadres of investors-high and low networth, to invest in the various segments of the Nigerian economy and earn competitive returns.

Most mutual funds are open-ended investment schemes. This means that the fund manager can create additional units for new investors on demand. The fund manager is also able to provide active liquidity by redeeming units from existing investors who want to sell units for cash. Through this pool of funds, an investor creates wealth over a long period of time by making the money work for him through regular saving and investment.

In addition to liquidity, mutual funds offer a range of benefits to investors, including portfolio diversification and lower transaction costs. The existence of a Trustee and Custodian to a mutual fund ensures the safety of investments, as the Trustee ensures that the fund is managed in line with approved investment guidelines, and the Custodian holds the fund assets.

Mutual fund investments are affordable for low-income investors, as some funds require an initial investment of only N5,000. The mutual fund assets in Nigeria have grown significantly in the last five years. This is an indication of the growing interest in this class of investment.

Data from SEC on the Net Asset Value (NAV) of all registered mutual funds in Nigeria showed that the collective NAV grew by 349 per cent between November 01, 2013 and November 02, 2018. This translated to a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 35 per cent during the period.

However, participation in the Nigerian mutual fund industry has been low, partly due to generally low level of investor education and awareness and particularly, the absence of good understanding and awareness about the mutual fund industry.

CBN directs banks to cut appetite for govt’s securities, oil assets

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday directed commercial banks to moderate their appetite for investing in government securities and oil and gas assets.

Government securities include Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Bonds and Treasury Bills (TB).

Its  Deputy Governor, Edward Lametek, who spoke at the last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting released by the apex bank, said moderating demand for government securities and oil assets  assist the lenders to rebalance their portfolios.

According to him, banks also needed to lend more to the economy for sustained economic growth.

He said the CBN’s  interventions in agriculture have clearly shown the immense prospects with properly directed credit.

He said: “Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) need to step up credit delivery to the growth poles – agriculture, manufacturing and services. The last couple of months have witnessed a sustained improvement in banking sector resilience – industry capital adequacy and liquidity ratios have grown, while the non-performing loans (NPLs) ratio is on the decline.

“This should translate to improved intermediation to be relevant. While monetary policy has to accommodate the need to sustain current improvements in banking industry Financial Soundness Indicators (FSIs), the DMBs would need to moderate their appetite for government securities and oil & gas assets in order to gradually re-balance their asset portfolios.”

He said developments in the inter-bank market somehow suggest that the sterilisation actions of the bank have remained very effective in reining-in excess liquidity.

Lametek said it is important that such actions should continue to be a component of monetary management in this year as liquidity threats do not appear to be abating any time soon. Keeping domestic liquidity in check is important not only for inflation, but also for the stability of the naira exchange rate.

“Overall, my assessment is that risks to inflation have remained tepid notwithstanding the year-on-year increase in headline inflation in December 2018. This could change depending on the short to medium-term evolution of fiscal policy. Given elections in February and March, the fiscal outlook should become clearer as from April 2019,” he said.

According to him, the outlook for economic growth is a bit dicey concerning given the indications from the oil sector (especially the volatility in crude prices) and sluggish consumption demand.

“I view the balance of risks to economic growth tilting to the downside, which suggests that there is a more urgent need to support growth or in the minimum delay any policy action that might further tighten credit conditions. It is important to stress nonetheless that a supportive monetary policy orientation alone will not be sufficient to lift economic growth to the historical levels of 5-6 per cent. Other policies of government, particularly fiscal and sector policies have to be in the same mode,” he said.

Also, a member of the MPC, Adenikinju Festus, said with respect to the banking and financial system, there is positive trend in all financial system indicators (FSI) between November last year and January this year.

He said the NPLs ratio continues its downward trend, capital adequacy ratio of the banking sector improved three consecutive months, liquidity ratio inched northward, aggregate assets and deposits of the banking sector also rose over the same period.

However, the monetary authority should not lower its guard and must continue to monitor the banks and implement policies to consolidate and further improve the FSI.

“Aggregate credit expansion to the real economy continues to pose serious challenges. Net credit growth to the private sector is lower than provisional benchmark for 2018. The high-interest rate spread and the high lending rates are challenges that require new and innovative approaches,” he said.

According to him, the proposed National Microfinance Bank, strengthening of existing Micro Finance Banks, and other initiatives by the CBN to promote financial inclusion, access to credit by those in the rural areas, semi/urban and even the poor areas in the cities across the country at affordable interest rates would boost real sector activities at the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) level.