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.”
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.
“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.”
Global Deal Activity Down by 4.5% in October 2020
A total of 6,304 deals were announced globally during October 2020, which is a decrease of 4.5% over the 6,598 deals announced during September, according to GlobalData, a leading data, and analytics company. An analysis of GlobalData’s Financial Deals Database revealed that the deal volume during October remained below the monthly average of Q3 2020.
Aurojyoti Bose, the Lead Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “After demonstrating growth for four consecutive months, the deal volume shrank in October. The decline in deal activity could be attributed to inconsistencies across different regions. The APAC region remained a weak spot, while deal activity remained mostly flat in North America, and the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region witnessed growth in deal activity.”
North America attracted the highest number of investments, followed by APAC, Europe, the MEA, and South, and Central America.
The uncertain global economic landscape lowered the deal volume in October for major markets such as the US, Germany, Australia, France, India, and China compared to the previous month. On the contrary, the UK, Japan, South Korea, and Canada saw growth of 15.6%,14.9%, 3.8%, and 2.2%, respectively, in October as compared to September’s deal volume.
Bose continued: “Most of the deal types witnessed a decline in volume during October compared to the previous month. Private equity, equity offerings, venture financing, debt offerings, and partnership deals volume decreased by a respective 2.4%, 9.1%, 9.8%, 14.6%, and 24.6% – while the deal volume for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) increased by 7.2%.”
Japaul to Invest in Chinese Firm H&H to Deepen Mining and Exploration Business
Japaul Gold & Ventures Plc (Japaul), formerly known as Japaul Oil and Maritime Services Plc, announced it has gotten approval in principle from H&H Mines Limited to invest in or acquire shares in the company once it concluded its fundraising exercise.
According to a statement released through the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), H&H Mines Limited has several licenses, which include two major Mining Leases for 25 years renewable.
The statement noted that extensive exploration has been done on the Mining properties and the last lap of the exploration works is core drilling. This, it said will allow Japaul knows the measured Minerals Reserve contained in the Mine, which it claimed contain Gold, Silver, Lead, Zinc, etc.
Japaul further explained that the need to get the drilling done was what led H&H Mining to engage the services of Xiang Hui International Mining Company Nigeria.
“Since Japaul will eventually be part of H&H Mines Limited, it was necessary that Japaul is carried along on the kind of Contract of Drilling to be entered into, and that was why the signing of the Drilling Contract between the Chinese Company and H&H Mines Limited was concluded at Japaul’s Head Office,” the company stated.
The drilling is expected to be concluded in the next 12 months and within this time, Japaul is expected to have concluded the Fund Raising and formalise her involvement in the Mining.
The company added that Canadian reports revealed that there are huge gold, silver, lead, etc deposits, but it is drilling that will show the actual reserve.
Africa Investment Forum (AIF) Rescheduled to Hold in 2021 – AfDB
Investment Forum to Now Hold in 2021 in a Bid to Curb Possible Second Wave of COVID-19
The Africa Investment Forum scheduled to hold in November 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa has been rescheduled to hold in2021 as a result of the ongoing global health pandemic.
This announcement was made in a statement by AfDB on Wednesday. The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Africa Investment Forum founding partners agreed to the postponement of the annual three-day investment market place.
Considering the negative effect of Covid-19 on the global economy, agreement by the two bodies was made after a careful assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on global travels, investments, observing the social distancing rules and curbing the likely possible risk of a second wave.
In the statement, the bank stated that through the forum innovative digital platforms, it would track investments, source for new deals, progress on financial closure of transactions and other existing deals.
“At the 2019 Africa Investment Forum, 57 deals valued at $67.7bn were tabled for discussions. Fifty-two deals worth $40.1bn secured investment interest.
“In July this year, the AIF Founding partners pledged to strengthen strategic partnership engagement and commitments for Africa Investment Forum Market Days 2021, to help ‘reboot investments in Africa.’ They underscored the need to boost local manufacturing while leveraging the continent’s vast resources to unlock investment.”
In the statement, Africa Investment Forum objectives are achieved through the forum’s four pillars; Closing, Connecting, Engaging and Investment Tracking.
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