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Shareholders Contemplate Court Action to Stop Unclaimed Dividends Fund

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Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Determined to stop the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from moving unclaimed dividends of 12 years to the proposed Nigerian Capital Market Development Fund (NCMDF), some shareholders are planning a court action.

The capital market apex regulator is planning to establish the NCMDF for dividends that have been unclaimed for 12 years and above. The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) provides that unclaimed dividends for 12 years are statute barred and are returned to the companies that paid the dividends.

However, SEC has proposed a new rule on application of 12 years and above unclaimed dividends.

“All companies and registrars shall not later than 30 days after the end of every calendar year forward to the Commission a report of unclaimed dividends in their custody, which shall specify compliance with Sub Rule (1) of this Rule. Companies shall disclose details of compliance with this Rule in their annual reports,” SEC said in the rule.

According to the commission in proposing the rule, it relied on provisions of Section 313(1)(n) of the Investments and Securities Act (ISA) 2007, which gives it powers to make rules for the orderly governance of the capital market.

Although some shareholders have kicked against the rule, investigations showed that the shareholders will resort to legal action should SEC decide to go ahead with the establishment of the NCMDF.

“We have been impressed with other recent efforts made by SEC to tackle the issue of unclaimed dividends in the market. But this new plan is not acceptable to us. We have registered our feelings with the commission. But if it goes ahead with the plan, we shall stop it in the law court,” the leader of shareholders’ said on Monday.

According to him, this is an unpopular move that has failed in the past, stressing that it will fail again.

The National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, had already said his group would resist the plan, which he described as “very offensive” attempt to take their private monies.

He said SEC and other regulators have sufficient funds and avenues to mobilise resources to perform their statutory roles of market development, noting that dividends belong to shareholders and the paying companies.

Also, co-founder of Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association (NSSA), Alhaji Gbadebo Olatokunbo, said the plan would lead to corruption and discourage investors from the domestic market.

“Unclaimed dividends belong to shareholders who are the owners of companies and their going back to the companies after 12 years is legitimate. We respectfully call on the federal government to urgently call the regulatory agencies to order, before they add more damage to our already sick economy,” Olatokunbo said.

However, President, Association for the Advancement of Rights of Nigerian Shareholders (AARNS), Dr. Faruk Umar, hailed the plan, saying it is a healthy development that would discourage sharp practices around the unclaimed dividends.

“The truth of the matter is that bulk of the unclaimed dividend that is more than 12 years belongs to people who are dead, multiple applicants who do not have bank account in their names, or small amounts of money that is not worth claiming. Someone that has not claimed his or her dividend in 12 years is unlikely to do so now. So, the Trust Fund should be established as this will discourage people from benefitting from the unclaimed dividend,” Umar said.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Markets

Black Friday Lull

We’re seeing subdued trading at the end of the week, with the absence of the US leaving markets lacking any notable direction.

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By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

We’re seeing subdued trading at the end of the week, with the absence of the US leaving markets lacking any notable direction.

This isn’t really unusual and at the end of the week too, it really makes sense. Barring a flurry of big headlines from elsewhere, we could now see equity markets just drift into the weekend with investors already having an eye on next week.

Perhaps today people are trading in their charts for some Black Friday deals, the outcome of which will certainly be on everyone’s radar. Going into the holiday season, we’ll get an early idea of the state of play for household spending in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

Of course, it will naturally be difficult to distinguish how much of that bargain hunting will prove to be holiday season shopping brought forward in an attempt to get the “best deals”. But if Black Friday shopping takes a hit this year, it won’t bode well for the rest of the holiday period which is so important to retailers.

PBOC cuts the RRR

The PBOC cut the RRR by 25 basis points this morning in a bid to support the economy which is once more going through a difficult period. How effective that will prove to be when cities are seeing restrictions and effective lockdowns reimposed is hard to say. But combined with other measures to boost the property market and ease Covid curbs, the cut could be supportive over the medium term when growth remains highly uncertain.

Oil pares losses as price cap talks continue

Oil prices are higher on Friday, continuing to pare losses after being hit heavily in recent weeks by surging Covid cases in China and discussions around the price cap on Russian crude.

Lockdowns in all but name appear to be popping up in major Chinese cities in an attempt to get a grip on record cases which will weigh heavily on economic activity once more and in turn demand. It’s now a question of how long they last but clearly investors’ enthusiasm toward the relaxation of Covid restrictions was a bit premature.

Talks will continue on a price cap but it seems it won’t be as strict as first thought, to the point that it may be borderline pointless. That’s hit oil prices again this week as the threat to Russian output from a $70 cap, for example, is minimal given it’s selling around those levels already.

Gold establishing a range ahead of key data releases

Gold is marginally lower today but has been quite choppy throughout the session, and broadly lacked any real direction. We could be seeing a little profit-taking as the dollar edges higher following the relief rally that followed the Fed minutes.

The yellow metal is trading roughly in the middle of what may be a newly established range between $1,730 and $1,780, potentially now awaiting the next catalyst ahead of the December Fed meeting. With another jobs and inflation report still to come, a lot could change between now and when the FOMC next meets.

Bitcoin still extremely vulnerable

Bitcoin is edging lower again today after recording three days of gains. That dragged it off the lows but didn’t really carry it that far from them. It’s trying to stabilize around the $15,500-$17,000 region and weather the storm but I’m not sure it will be that easy. There’s likely more to come from the FTX collapse and the contagion effects, not to mention potentially other scandals that could be uncovered. This may continue to make crypto traders very nervous and leave the foundations supporting price extremely shaky. ​

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Crude Oil

Lack of Inflows, Revenue Shortage Plunge Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account By 89%

The ECB balance declined from $4.1 billion recorded in November 2014 to $472,513

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Weak foreign revenue inflow amid fluctuations in the global oil market has plunged Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) by 89% in the last eight years.

The Excess Crude Account (ECA) is an account used to save excess crude oil revenue by the Nigerian government.

The ECB balance declined from $4.1 billion recorded in November 2014 to $472,513 in the same period of 2022, according to a statement from the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.

Economists attributed the substantial decline to the nation’s persistent depreciation in foreign revenue inflows and the struggle with crude oil production amid global uncertainty.

According to Jonathan Aremu, professor of economics at Covenant University in Ogun State, the decline was a result of constant withdrawal without replenishment.

“For you to increase the ECA, the oil price must rise above the budgeted price. If it does not, nothing goes in.  Also, if what you are spending is higher than what goes in, it depletes. This is the situation,” he noted.

On Thursday, crude oil prices declined following the Group of Seven (G7) nations’ proposed plan to cap Russian oil at $65-70 a barrel.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, declined to $85 a barrel while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell by 0.6% to $77.48 a barrel.

Despite the fact that the benchmark price for oil in the 2022 budget was $57, the price of oil today is still about $30 higher. In spite of higher oil prices, the ECA has been on a decline since early 2022, suggesting that the issue is internal.

“Nigeria’s crude production plunged below 1 million barrels per day (mbpd) for the first time since Buhari became President this year and has averaged about 1.2 mbpd most part of 2022. Therefore, it is impossible to take advantage of the Russian-Ukraine war inflated oil prices like we did during the Gulf war under former president Ibrahim Babangida,” Samed Olukoya, CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd stated.

The government needs to address internal issues, revamp refineries, reduce oil theft and diversify the economy to reduce overexposure to global oil fluctuations.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Opens at $85 as G7 Nations Move to Cap Russian Oil

The Group of Seven (G7) proposed to cap Russian crude oil at $65-$70 a barrel

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Crude oil

Crude oil opened lower on Thursday, declining to a two-month low following the Group of Seven (G7) proposal to cap Russian crude oil at $65-$70 a barrel.

A greater-than-expected build in U.S. gasoline inventories and widening COVID-19 controls in China added to downward pressure.

Brent crude dipped 50 cents, or 0.6%, to $84.91 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell by 46 cents, or 0.6%, to $77.48 a barrel.

Both benchmarks plunged more than 3% on Wednesday on news the planned price cap on Russian oil could be above the current market level.

The G7 is looking at a cap on Russian seaborne oil at $65-$70 a barrel, according to a European official, though European Union governments have not yet agreed on a price.

A higher price cap could make it attractive for Russia to continue to sell its oil, reducing the risk of a supply shortage in global oil markets.

That range would also be higher than markets had expected, reducing the risk of global supply being disrupted, said Vivek Dhar, a commodities analyst at Commonwealth Bank in a report.

“If the EU agree to an oil price cap of $65‑$70/bbl this week, we see downside risks to our oil price forecast of $95/bbl this quarter,” Dhar said.

Oil and gas exports are forecast to account for 42% of Russia’s revenues this year at 11.7 trillion roubles ($196 billion), according to the country’s finance ministry, up from 36% or 9.1 trillion roubles ($152 billion) in 2021.

The G7, including the United States, as well as the whole of the European Union and Australia, are planning to implement the price cap on sea-borne exports of Russian oil on Dec. 5.

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