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Nigeria’s Promise Turns to Peril as Investors Head for the Exits – Bloomberg

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The promise of Africa’s biggest economy has turned to peril.

Companies drawn to Nigeria by the prospect of a population bigger than Germany and Turkey’s combined are retreating; those staying have publicly criticized the president, a military strongman in the 1980s who came back to power via an election last year; and foreign investors are pulling their money out.

The corporate tribulations that began with a slide in oil prices and accelerated after the imposition of capital controls are also entangled in a global emerging-market slump. In propping up the naira in a futile bid to contain inflation, officials have jacked up pressure on an economy running out of cash, deepening a black market in currency trading and causing shortages of imported goods from fuel to milk. U.S. officials said they will press their Nigerian counterparts to change tack during talks in Washington this week.

“Our clients, Fortune 500 and other multinationals, are all quite concerned by the state Nigeria finds itself in,” said Alexa Lion, a senior analyst at Washington-based Frontier Strategy Group, which advises companies looking at developing nations. “Sentiment has worsened. There’s a lot of anxiety.”

Frustration too.

After four years trying to gain traction, Truworths International Ltd., a South African clothing retailer, last month gave up. It closed its last two outlets in Nigeria, in the southeastern cities of Enugu and Warri. Willing to tolerate dilapidated infrastructure, complicated red tape and expensive rent, the company said the import and foreign-exchange restrictions caused it to throw in the towel.

‘Impossible’

“We were happy to lose money for a few years while we developed the business and opened new stores,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Mark said in an interview. “The straw that broke the camel’s back was not being able to get stock into Nigeria. You can’t have a clothes shop with no clothes. With all the other things, it just wasn’t worth it. It was impossible to do business.”

Nigeria’s appeal has faded as the price of oil, source of 90 percent of export earnings, has crashed. Growth slumped to 2.8 percent last year, the slowest since 1999, and will decelerate to 2 percent in 2016, according to Morgan Stanley. In dollar terms, the economy in 2019 will still be 17 percent smaller than its 2014 peak of $542 billion. Only two years ago, McKinsey & Co. said Nigeria had the potential to grow 7.1 percent annually until 2030 and build a $1.6 trillion economy.
As Nigeria lags, other countries in sub-Saharan Africa have gotten more appealing. Last month, Nigeria fell from first to fourth, behind Ivory Coast, Kenya and Tanzania, in a ranking of business prospects by the research unit of Nielsen Holdings Plc.

Portfolio investors including Aberdeen Asset Management Plc and Ashmore Group Plc, which together oversee about $450 billion of assets, have retreated from Nigerian markets. The main stock index is down 10 percent this year, while the MSCI Frontier Markets Index has lost 2.8 percent. Nigeria’s local-currency bonds are the only ones among 31 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg to have generated aloss this year. Foreign direct investment this year is set to be the lowest since the 2008-09 global financial crisis, according to data from the central bank.

For now, President Muhammadu Buhari and Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele say they aren’t budging from their strong-naira policy. While both acknowledge that businesses are struggling to source enough dollars, Buhari says that a devaluation and easing of capital controls would be akin to “murdering” the naira and send prices up. That’s already happening as manufacturers struggle to buy foreign inputs, with inflation accelerating to a three-year high of 11.4 percent in February.

Markets are betting Nigeria will be forced to follow oil exporters from Russia to Kazakhstan and Mexico and let the currency weaken. While the naira has been all but pegged at 197-199 per dollar since March 2015, forward prices suggest it will drop 29 percent to 280 in a year. The black market rate has weakened to 320.

Bruno Witvoet, the Africa President of Unilever, whose Nigerian subsidiary has seen its shares plunge 31 percent since Buhari came to power, said it would be “very insane” for the country to persist with the currency policies. Nestle SA says its local unit, which has fallen 18 percent in that period, has had to widen the number of banks it uses so that it can access enough foreign exchange.

Not all companies are gloomy. In January, Coca-Cola Co. agreed to pay about $240 million for a 40 percent stake in Chi Ltd., which is based in Lagos, and makes fruit juice and dairy products. Boston Consulting Group this month opened its first office in Nigeria.

“It’s an immense market,” said Geoffrey White, CEO for Africa at Kuwait-based Agility Public Warehousing Co K.S.C., which plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building four warehouse and logistics parks in Lagos and the capital Abuja by 2020. “You can’t really have an African policy without having Nigeria high up on the list.”

For Frontier Strategy Group’s Lion, Nigeria is too important for foreign companies to exit en masse.

“But a lot will depend on what happens with the currency,” she said. “For now, the opportunity cost of not being there is too high. That could change if the currency situations worsens. It’s definitely a pivotal time.”

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.

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Debt Management Office Releases Q1, 2022 Calendar

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Director General DMO - Investors King

The Debt Management Office (DMO) will, on January 16, 2022 issue N70 billion to N80 billion, four years and 20 years Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) bond, with an interest rate of 12.50 percent.

In its recently released calendar for the issuance of bonds for the first quarter of 2022 (Q1-2022), the DMO noted that this bond has an original tenor of 10 years and 20 years and will re-open in January 2026 and January 2042.

The DMO also revealed that it will issue three years, 11 months and 19 years, 11 months FGN bond of N70 billion to N80 billion on 16th of February.

This bond, according to the DMO, will carry an interest rate of 12.50 percent, to be re-opened in January 2026 and January 2042, and with original tenor of 10 years and 20 years.

Also on March 23, the DMO will issue three years, 10 months, and 19 years, 10 months, 70 billion to N80 billion FGN bond which would last for a period of 10 years and 2 years.

The bond has an interest rate of 12.50 percent, and will be re-opened in January 2026 and January 2042.

FGN Bonds are debt securities (liabilities) of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) issued by the Debt Management Office (DMO) for and on behalf of the Federal Government.

The FGN has an obligation to pay the bondholder the principal and agreed interest as and when due. When you buy FGN Bonds, you are lending to the FGN for a specified period of time.

The FGN Bonds are considered as the safest of all investments in domestic debt market because it is backed by the ‘full faith and credit’ of the Federal Government, and as such it is classified as a risk free debt instrument.

Prior to the establishment of the Debt Management Office (DMO) in 2000, Nigeria’s public debt was managed by a myriad of Government Agencies in an uncoordinated manner.

This diffusion created systemic and structural problems that brought about serious strain on the country’s debt portfolio and economic growth.

Hence, the establishment of the DMO marked the beginning of the institutionalization and professionalization of public debt management in Nigeria.

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Stanbic IBTC Enlightens Nigerians on Stockbroking

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Stanbic IBTC - investorsking.com

Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, recently hosted a virtual session to enlighten Nigerians on the potentials of investing in the stock market.

The virtual event themed: “You Don’t Know About Stocks? Come On Now,” featured stockbroking experts: Afolabi Gbenro, Head, Sales Trading and Benjamin Jesumuyiwa, Head, Mandate and Settlements, both of Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers with Tosin Olaseinde, founder of Money Africa, Jennifer Awirigwe, Certified Financial Educator and Solafunmi Oyeneye of Wealth Motley, a Personal Finance Educator as panelists.

The goal of the session was to acquaint individuals new to the stock market with basic stockbroking terms, useful tips for stock trading and how to use the Stanbic IBTC stockbroking app.

Afolabi stated the importance of diversifying investments in stocks. He listed factors that affect the prices of stocks which include supply, demand, news, and investor sentiments. The benefits of investing include dividend yield, capital appreciation, equity share holder privileges and utilising investments as collateral. He stressed the importance of research and advised Nigerians to conduct their own research and evaluate companies before investing.

On considerations before entering the stock market, he said, “You would need capital, investment objective, and risk profile assessment to determine the kind of investment you should venture into. You would also need to stay abreast of market updates.”

Benjamin Jesumuyiwa, Head, Mandate and Settlements, Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers, urged Nigerians to invest in stocks to reap long term rewards. He said: “The stock market makes it easy to buy shares of companies and they can be purchased through a broker or via online platforms. Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers offers a discounted rate of 0.7% on brokerage fees. Once you have set up an account, stocks can be purchased in minutes.”

Benjamin talked about the ease of using the Stanbic IBTC web and mobile applications platforms, stating that the platforms have been designed to allow customers sign up themselves, with direct access to the market.

Tosin Olaseinde commended Stanbic IBTC for making stock trading accessible and affordable for Nigerians, as individuals can open a stockbroking account with zero naira. She advised beginners to invest while gaining knowledge about the stock market and recommended Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) as an entry point especially for people who have an aversion to high-risk investments. She said: “As a beginner, the best place to start is the Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). It is a mixture of different equities in one stock. It offers you the opportunity to participate in a couple of stocks without buying everything individually.”

Solafunmi Oyeneye mentioned liquidity and dividends over a long period of time as advantages of trading stocks, encouraging beginners to access the Stanbic IBTC stockbroking app through their smartphones for convenience and less paperwork.

Jennifer opined that the stock market is a good place to invest because it is highly regulated, and the risks can be easily assessed. She also recommended the Stanbic IBTC Stockbroking app for trading stocks for ease of use and speed.

The stockbroking investment series by Stanbic IBTC further reaffirms the commitment of the financial institution to equip individuals with essential information required to make informed investment decisions.

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Why Every Investor Should Now Include ESG: deVere CEO

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Every investor needs exposure to environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments to build wealth over the long-term, says the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.

The observation from deVere Group’s Nigel Green, a long-term advocate of impactful investing, comes as it is revealed that global sustainable fund assets almost doubled in the six months through to September.

Global ESG assets are on track to exceed $53 trillion by 2025, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, representing more than a third of the $140.5 trillion in projected total assets under management.

Mr Green says: “In January 2020, we identified that ESG would be this decade’s ultimate investment megatrend.

“Of course, that was before the pandemic that has acted as a catalyst for the sustainable investing boom.

“The health of our planet and how it affects human health which, in turn, affects the way we all live, interact and do business, dramatically came to the fore.”

He continues: “Previously, ESG investments were often considered a ‘quirk’ or ‘nice to have.”

“But now we believe that they should be a part of everyone’s investment portfolio for several key reasons.

“First, they typically deliver a legitimate diversification tool – which is how investors can seize opportunities and mitigate risk, especially during periods of higher volatility.

“Second, funds investing in entities with robust ESG credentials have outperformed their benchmarks over recent years. From a risk management point of view, including these companies in your portfolio is, clearly, a sensible decision to take.

“Third, ESG represents a revolution of investment strategy itself. A seismic shift has occurred in corporate behaviour. How firms approach ESG factors and the value they place on them compared to other considerations has already changed forever.  The ESG themes are already embedded in the global economy as this is only set to grow in the years to come – and, of course, investors should embrace the concept of having early advantage.

“And fourth, the last 18 months have underscored how we have a moral obligation to back and fund entities that support the wellbeing of the planet and society”

In October, deVere announced that it will double its commitment to position $2 bn of assets under advisement into ESG investments.

This follows a similar announcement earlier this year when it said it would aim to have $1bn in socially responsible investment vehicles within five years.

As well as its commitment, deVere is one of 18 founding signatories of the UN-backed Net Zero initiative, the international alliance of finance powerhouses that will help accelerate the transition to a net-zero financial system. Its membership means it is committed to “aligning all relevant products and services to achieve net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050 and to set meaningful interim targets for 2025.

Other founding signatories include BDO, Bloomberg, Campbell Lutyens, Deloitte, EY, Grant Thornton, KPMG, The London Stock Exchange Group, Minerva Analytics, Moody’s, Morningstar, MSCI, PwC, SGX, Solactive, S&P Global and SSE.

Mr Green concludes: “The case for now having exposure to ESG in your investment portfolio is undeniable.

“We believe that a failure not to seek profits with purpose could negatively impact your long-term accumulation of wealth.”

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