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Cheques Can Now be Paid into Savings Accounts

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The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday released four new guidelines for the banking industry, top of which was an approval for bank customers to make cheque deposits into their savings accounts.

Prior to this development, bank customers could only make cheque deposits into their current accounts.

The new guidelines were contained in a circular posted on the CBN website and signed by the Director, Banking and Payment System, Mr. Dipo Fatokun.

The circular, which was directed to banks and other financial institutions, was dated July 28, 2016.

 Aside from this approval, the CBN also ordered banks and other financial institutions to remove fixed interest rate on credit cards.

The central bank directed the banks to henceforth begin to embed customers’ Bank Verification Numbers on their payment cards.

It also ordered the banks to discontinue actual address verification as a condition for account opening for customers with the BVN.

In approving cheque deposits into savings accounts, the apex bank limited the daily deposit to only N2m per customer in a day.

The CBN said the new guidelines were meant to strengthen the payment system and the banking sector.

The circular, with reference number BPS/DIR/GEN?CIR/03/005, read, “The Central Bank of Nigeria, in furtherance of its efforts at strengthening the Nigerian payment system, hereby issues the following directives: the removal of fixed interest on credit cards; and discontinuation of actual address verification in account openings for customers with the Bank Verification Number.

“Banks should begin to embed the BVN on all payment cards issued henceforth to facilitate off-line BVN verification and biometric-based customer authentication in such payment devices as the Automated Teller Machines, Point of Sale Terminal, kiosks etc.

“Savings account customers with the BVN should be allowed to deposit cheques not more than N2m in value into their savings account per, customer per day. Please, be guided and ensure strict compliance with the content of this circular.”

In another development, the CBN advised Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to beware of the unwholesome activities of some unlicensed International Money Transfer Operators in the country.

It said in a statement by its Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor, that the warning had become necessary because of the activities of some unregistered IMTOs, whose modes of operation were detrimental to the Nigerian economy.

Okoroafor stated, “All financial service providers in Nigeria, just as in other jurisdictions, are required to be duly licensed in order to protect both customers and the financial system as well as to ensure the credibility of financial transactions.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all licensed International Money Transfer Operators, in line with the CBN circular on the sale of foreign currency proceeds of July 22, 2016, are required to remit foreign currencies to their respective agent banks in Nigeria for disbursement in naira to the beneficiaries, while the foreign currency proceeds are to be sold to Bureaux De Change operators for onward retail to end users.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria will, therefore, not condone any attempt aimed at undermining the country’s foreign exchange regime.

“Accordingly, members of the public are advised to beware of the activities of such unregistered IMTOs for the greater economic good of Nigeria.”

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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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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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 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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