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CBN Unveils N300bn Fund For Non-oil Exporters

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Godwin Emefiele on banking

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday unveiled a N300bn special intervention fund to boost non-oil exports in the country.

The announcement was contained in a communique issued at the end of a non-oil export conference conveyed by the CBN and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank.

The central bank stated in the communique that the intervention fund would be given to exporters at an interest rate of not more than nine per cent.

The communique read in part, “The governor of the CBN committed that the CBN will continue to play a catalyst role in improving exports.

“The CBN will also make N300bn as export stimulation intervention fund available to exporters at not more than nine per cent.”

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had earlier indicated that the country might be heading for tougher times because it recorded a decline of $6.14bn (N1.2tn) in non-oil exports receipts from $10.53bn in 2014 to $4.39bn in 2015.

This is coming against the backdrop of weak oil prices, which have seen a significant drop in crude prices from a peak of $114 barrel in July 2014 to as low as $28 currently.

The country’s reserves have also suffered great pressure from speculative attacks, round-tripping and front-loading activities by actors in the foreign exchange market, making it to decline from $37.3bn in June 2014 to about N28bn currently.

Emefiele blamed the decline on the low level of export loans from the banking sector.

He said available statistics showed that while credit to non-oil exports had been declining in the last five years, credit to the economy had been on the increase.

Emefiele, who put the total credit to the non-oil export sector at 0.6 per cent of domestic credit to the economy, explained that such level of funding could not unlock the potential of the non-oil sector.

He said the conference, with the theme, ‘Growing Nigeria’s non-oil exports’ was put together by the CBN and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank as part of measures aimed at increasing the sector’s contribution to economic growth.

He said, “Exports are an essential component in the national income and it have a very important role in supporting the nation’s economy against the backdrop of weak oil prices.

“It has been observed that while credit to non-oil exports is declining and currently at an average of 0.6 per cent of total domestic loans to the private sector in the last five years, the domestic credit to the economy has been on the rise.

“The low level of export loans has no doubt also contributed to a large extent to the decline in non-oil export revenue receipts from $10.53bn in 2014 to $4.39bn in 2015.”

Punch

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Finance

FG Borrowed $5.9B To Fight COVID-19 and Implement Budget – Minister of Finance

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Zainab Ahmed

The federal government borrowed about $5.9 billion in 2020, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and implement its budget. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, revealed this yesterday.

A statement issued by her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Mr. Yunusa Abdullahi, yesterday, indicated that the minister told the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) General Assembly during a webinar, that the federal government had to move quickly to save the economy.

Speaking on Nigeria’s fiscal response – short term interventions and impact on public finances, as an immediate fiscal response, Mrs. Ahmed said: “We did the following: Procured a $3.4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and about $2.5 billion in local currency from the domestic capital market to support the 2020 budget implementation), among others.”

She noted that the government then packaged a N500 billion for COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund in the 2020 revised budget, as part of a N2.3 trillion Economic Sustainability Plan.

Mrs. Ahmed said that the government had begun the process of moving the economy away from its primary dependence on oil for revenues and foreign exchange, and making steady gains in addressing infrastructure and human capital challenges before the pandemic hit the global economy.

With COVID-19, Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude oil price fell from a peak of US$72.2 per barrel on January 7, 2020 to below US$20 by April 2020.

She said, “In effect, the US$57 crude oil price benchmark approved in the 2020 budget became unrealistic triggering the need to adjust the following variables: reduction of crude oil benchmark price from US$57 per barrel to US$28 per barrel; reduction of daily crude oil production benchmark from 2.18 million barrels per day (mbpd) to 1.9 mbpd; adjustment of the official exchange rate to N360/US$1 from N305/$.”

Mrs. Ahmed revealed that part of the federal government Supplementary Budget on COVID-19 would be spent on the procurement of 29. 588 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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Banking Sector

Union Bank CEO, Godson Chukwuemeka Okonkwo Acquires 2.4 Million Shares in the Bank Ahead of Acquisition

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Union bank - Investors King

The Chief Executive Officer, Union Bank Plc, Godson Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, has purchased 2,431,917 ordinary shares of the bank, according to the latest disclosure filing from the lender.

The CEO acquired the 2,431,917 shares of Union Bank at N4.90 per share on Thursday 6th May 2021 from the floor of the Nigerian Exchange Ltd.

Okonkwo’s N11.916 million investment was after Investors King reported a possible acquisition of the bank by Zenith Bank or Access Bank following sources cited by Bloomberg.

Bloomberg said, “Atlas Mara Limited, the London Stock Exchange-listed pan-African banking group started by Mr. Bob Diamond has received a number of approaches for its 49.97 per cent holding in Lagos-based Union Bank of Nigeria.”

It also stated that Atlas Mara received interests from Nigerian and Middle Eastern lenders for its remaining assets on the continent, according to Bloomberg sources.

The sources claimed the banks in talks with Atlas Mara asked not to be identified as talks are private. But they mentioned Nigeria’s Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc and Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank as some of the banks that have so far expressed interests in acquiring Union Bank.

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Banking Sector

Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Others Express Interest in Acquiring Union Bank

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Atlas Mara - Investors King

Zenith Bank and Access Bank are some of the financial institutions in talks to acquire Atlas Mara Ltd.’s 49.97 percent stake in Union Bank Plc.

Bloomberg said, “Atlas Mara Limited, the London Stock Exchange-listed pan-African banking group started by Mr. Bob Diamond has received a number of approaches for its 49.97 per cent holding in Lagos-based Union Bank of Nigeria.”

It also stated that Atlas Mara received interests from Nigerian and Middle Eastern lenders for its remaining assets on the continent, according to Bloomberg sources.

The sources claimed the banks in talks with Atlas Mara asked not to be identified as talks are private. But they mentioned Nigeria’s Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc and Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank as some of the banks that have so far expressed interests in acquiring Union Bank.

Middle Eastern banks and private equity suitors have also shown interest, according to the people. Some potential buyers have indicated they may acquire all of Atlas Mara’s remaining assets in Africa, which would include its Zimbabwe unit, the people said.

Atlas Mara has been working with Rothschild & Co. to consider options for its Union Bank stake. No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said.

Representatives for Atlas Mara and Zenith Bank didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Attijariwafa Bank Managing Director Ismail Douiri and a representative for Access Bank declined to comment.

Speaking on the matter, Frontier and Sub-saharan Africa Banks’ Analyst, Renaissance Capital, Adesoji Solanke, on Thursday said this is good for Atlas Mara.

He said “Good for Atlas Mara if they’re able to exit successfully, as they’ve been selling a bunch of assets over the past year, to KCB and Access Bank respectively across different markets. Whether they get a good valuation for Union Bank is another thing.

“We don’t think it’ll be a transformational deal for Access or Zenith (Return-on-Equity dilutive for both), but could be a good way for the Middle Eastern banks to get a decent foothold in the market. We suspect getting the other private equity investor block to sell will be critical as we wouldn’t expect a strategic bank investor to desire a minority shareholding.”

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