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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.

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.

Crude Oil

Oil Posts 2% Gain for the Week Despite India Virus Surge

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Crude Oil - Investors King

Oil prices steadied on Friday and were set for a weekly gain against the backdrop of optimism over a global economic recovery, though the COVID-19 crisis in India capped prices.

Brent crude futures settled 0.28% higher at $68.28 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude advanced 0.29% to $64.90 per barrel.

Both Brent and WTI are on track for second consecutive weekly gains as easing restrictions on movement in the United States and Europe, recovering factory operations and coronavirus vaccinations pave the way for a revival in fuel demand.

In China, data showed export growth accelerated unexpectedly in April while a private survey pointed to strong expansion in service sector activity.

However, crude imports by the world’s biggest buyer fell 0.2% in April from a year earlier to 40.36 million tonnes, or 9.82 million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest since December.

In the United States, the world’s largest oil consumer, jobless claims have dropped, signalling the labour market recovery has entered a new phase as the economy recovers.

The recovery in oil demand, however, has been uneven as surging COVID-19 cases in India reduce fuel consumption in the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer.

“Brent came within a whisker of breaking past $70 a barrel this week but failed at the final hurdle as demand uncertainty dragged on prices,” said Stephen Brennock at oil brokerage PVM.

The resurgence of COVID-19 in countries such as India, Japan and Thailand is hindering gasoline demand recovery, energy consultancy FGE said in a client note, though some of the lost demand has been offset by countries such as China, where recent Labour Day holiday travel surpassed 2019 levels.

“Gasoline demand in the U.S. and parts of Europe is faring relatively well,” FGE said.

“Further out, we could see demand pick up as lockdowns are eased and pent-up demand is released during the summer driving season.”

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Commodities

Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange to Commence Gold Trading

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gold bars

With the admission of Dukia Gold’s diversified financial instruments backed by gold as the underlying asset, Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange is set to commence gold trading.

According to Dukia Gold, the instruments will be in form of exchange-traded notes, commercial papers and other gold-backed securities, adding that it will enable the company to deepen the commodities market in Nigeria, increase capacity, generate foreign exchange for the Nigerian government to better diversify foreign reserves and create jobs across the metal production value chain.

Tunde Fagbemi, the Chairman, Dukia Gold, disclosed this while addressing journalists at Pre-Listing Media Interactive Session in Lagos on Thursday.

He said, “We are proud to be the first gold company whose products would be listed on the Lagos Futures and Commodities Exchange. The listing shall enable us facilitate our infrastructure development, expand capacity and create fungible products.

“This has potential to shore up Nigeria’s foreign reserve and create an alternative window for preservation of pension funds. A gold-backed security is a hedge against inflation and convenient preservation of capital.”

“As a global player, we comply with the practices and procedures of London Bullion Market Association and many other international bodies. Our refinery will also have multiplier effects on the development of rural areas anywhere it is located,” he added.

Mr Olusegun Akanji, the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, Heritage Bank, said the lender had created a buying centre for verification of quality and quantity of gold and reference price to ensure price discovery in line with the global standard.

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Crude Oil

Oil Nears $70 as Easing Western Lockdowns Boost Summer Demand Outlook

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Crude oil

Oil prices rose for a third day on Wednesday as easing of lockdowns in the United States and parts of Europe heralded a boost in fuel demand in summer season and offset concerns about the rise of COVID-19 infections in India and Japan.

Brent crude rose 93 cents, or 1.4%, to $69.81 a barrel at 1008 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 85 cents, or 1.3%, to $66.54 a barrel.

Both contracts hit the highest level since mid-March in intra-day trade.

“A return to $70 oil is edging closer to becoming reality,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

“The jump in oil prices came amid expectations of strong demand as western economies reopen. Indeed, anticipation of a pick-up in fuel and energy usage in the United States and Europe over the summer months is running high,” he said.

Crude prices were also supported by a large fall in U.S. inventories.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) industry group reported crude stockpiles fell by 7.7 million barrels in the week ended April 30, according to two market sources. That was more than triple the drawdown expected by analysts polled by Reuters. Gasoline stockpiles fell by 5.3 million barrels.

Traders are awaiting data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday to see if official data shows such a large fall.

“If confirmed by the EIA, that would mark the largest weekly fall in the official data since late January,” Commonwealth Bank analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.

The rise in oil prices to nearly two-month highs has been supported by COVID-19 vaccine rollouts in the United States and Europe.

Euro zone business activity accelerated last month as the bloc’s dominant services industry shrugged off renewed lockdowns and returned to growth.

“The partial lifting of mobility restrictions, the expectation that tourism will return in the near future, and the lure of the psychologically important $70 mark are all likely to have contributed to the price rise,” Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.

This has offset a drop in fuel demand in India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, which is battling a surge in COVID-19 infections.

“However, if we were to eventually see a national lockdown imposed, this would likely hit sentiment,” ING Economics analysts said of the situation in India.

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