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Interbank Overnight Rate Rises by 6%

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Interbank rate

The scramble for funds by commercial banks forced the interbank overnight rate to jump by six per cent to 13.33 per cent on Thursday, from 7.33 per cent the previous day.

Similarly, the open buy-back and overnight rate also rose to 12.75 per cent, from 6.75 per cent.

This came barely 48 hours after the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee increased the Cash Reserve Ratio for commercial banks to 22.5 per cent from 20 per cent, and the benchmark interest rate from 11 per cent to 12 per cent, as part of measures to curb rising inflation.

Similarly, customers’ deposits in the vaults of banks fell significantly on Thursday after the CBN withdrew about N400bn from the banking system to meet a new CRR on deposits, it was learnt.

The significant drop in the Deposit Money Banks’ deposits forced a number of them to the interbank market to borrow funds to cover their positions ahead of the Easter break.

Data posted on the FMDQ OTC website showed that the interbank overnight rate rose to 13.33 per cent from 7.33 per cent on Wednesday.

“We have had major fund placers in the market quoting between 20 and 25 per cent for overnight placement, while takers are quoting between seven and 10 per cent,” one dealer told Reuters, adding that no deals had yet been done on the rates being quoted.

Traders said there was additional cash outflow for premium payments to the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, which further put pressure on liquidity in the system and forced lending rates up.

On Wednesday, yields on Nigeria’s benchmark 20-year bond rose by 55 basis points to 12.7 per cent after the CBN unexpectedly tightened monetary policy.

The total commercial lenders’ credit balance with the central bank stood at N320.9bn on Thursday, up from N217bn last week.

However, traders said the level of cash in the banks’ vaults would have dropped significantly due to cash withdrawals to meet the new CRR and premium payments on customer deposits.

Commenting on the MPC decision, analysts at Afrinvest said, “The move to hike the CRR by 2.5 per cent to 22.5 per cent was in a bid to curb speculative activities in the foreign exchange market.

“We estimate this to quarantine the sum of N409.7bn from the system. However, we are of the view that this reflects the notion that previous decision to reduce the CRR by five per cent was largely premature given that the operating environment remains unattractive for loan growth.

“We do not expect a reversal in this tightening stance in the medium term as committee members would remain wary of the liquidity impulse from expansionary budget. In the interim, we expect to see a 100bps-200bps increase in yields in the fixed income market, while the cost of funds may likely rise for Tier-2 banks as the interbank market adjusts to the tightening of liquidity. However, assets repricing of fixed income securities and other risk assets will likely compensate for this.”

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.

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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Finance

Nestle Nigeria Reports N12.4 Billion Profit After Tax in Q1 2021

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Nestle Nigeria - Investors King

Nestle Nigeria Plc, a food and beverage specialty company headquartered in Lagos and majorly owned by Nestle S.A of Switzerland, grew revenue to N87.258 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021 from N70.329 billion filed in Q1 2020.

The company disclosed in its unaudited financial statement released in late April.

Gross profit stood at N34.743 billion in the quarter, up from N31.658 billion achieved in the same quarter of 2020.

Results from operating activities rose from N17.538 billion in Q1 2020 to N20.314 billion in Q1 2021.

While finance income contracted from N335.242 million in Q1 2020 to N123.340 million in Q1 2021. Finance costs rose to N1.435 billion in the quarter, up from N417.928 million recorded in Q1 2020.

Net finance income/cost stood at N1.312 billion, up from N82.686 million in Q1 2020.

Profit before tax rose to N19.002 billion in the quarter under review, better than the N17.455 billion achieved in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

Nestle Nigeria paid N6.602 billion as income tax for the period, slightly higher than the N6.259 billion paid in Q1 2020.

Profit after tax expanded to N12.400 billion in the quarter, up from N11.195 billion filed in Q1 2020.

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