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Banks to Close Branches as Recession Bites Hard

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Recession bites

A number of Deposit Money Banks in the country will close many of what they described as unprofitable branches as the economic recession continues to bite harder, investigation by our correspondent has shown.

It was similarly gathered that most of the banks would lay off hundreds of workers between now and December.

The revelation came barely 24 hours after Unity Bank Plc laid off about 300 workers, more than the 220 that was mentioned last week.

Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank and Skye Bank Plc had earlier in the year sacked over 3,000 members of their workforce.

It was learnt that following the economic downturn in the country, a number of bank branches could no longer justify their existence as cost analysis had shown that the financial institutions were spending more on salaries and overheads than the income from the branches.

Some top bank executives, who confirmed the development to our correspondent under the condition of anonymity on Monday, said some lenders might be forced to relieve more workers of their duties before the end of this year.

An executive director in one of the banks that recently asked some of its workers to go said, “We have laid off some of our staff members but that it still not enough. Many branches are just existing for the sake of being there. They are not generating enough income. What they are bringing in is far less than what the bank is incurring as costs on them.

“We may have to close such branches before the year ends. I know a number of other banks that are planning something similar.”

Commenting on the development, an ex-banker and Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, described branch closure as an ongoing action in the banking sector, especially in times of economic downturn.

He, however, noted that banks were required to notify the Central Bank of Nigeria before closing any branch.

“It is an ongoing administrative thing in the banking industry. Banks will want to rationalise branches, especially in a difficult economy. Banks are planning to cut costs. Branch rationalisation is normal but the CBN has to be notified,” Chukwu explained.

The banking sector has been facing a number of challenges following the downturn in economic activities.

The slowdown in the economy, which has led to a high rate of non-performing loans in the banking system, made four lenders to lose at least N17bn in profits in the first quarter of this year.

Specifically, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc recorded a combined decline of N17bn in their profits before tax for the three months ended March 31, 2016, when compared with the corresponding period of 2015, according to the results of the financial institutions posted on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

When compared with the PBT of N30.52bn, N32.65bn, N4.26bn and N7.94bn recorded by the banks in the first quarter of 2015, the combined PBT of the four banks dropped by N17bn from N75.4bn in the first quarter of last year to N58.4bn in the same period of this year.

While Ecobank’s PBT fell from N30.52bn in the first quarter of 2015 to N20.63bn in a similar period of this year, GTBank’s dropped from N32.65bn to N30.68bn. That of Unity Bank dropped from N4.26bn to N1.05bn, while Diamond Bank’s came down from N7.94bn to N6.04bn.

In terms of their profit after tax, the four banks recorded a decline of N14bn.

Banks in the country had been posting sharp increases in profits before tax and profits after tax since 2011 after the establishment of the Asset Management of Corporation of Nigeria in 2010 following the banking sector crisis in 2009.

However, consistent drop in the global prices of crude oil, Nigeria’s main foreign exchange earner, since June 2014, caused banks’ profits to start declining at the end of 2015.

Majority of the 15 banks listed on the NSE recorded declines in their full-year profits in the 2015 financial year. However, a few ones such as Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and GTBank outperformed the market despite sizeable volume of bad loans.

In the first quarter of 2016, 13 out of the 15 banks posted a combined PBT of N135.36bn, compared to N148bn in the corresponding period of last year.

Similarly, the 13 banks posted profits after tax of N116.6bn in the first quarter of 2016, compared to N126.4bn in the first quarter of 2015.

The 13 banks are Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, GTBank, FCMB Limited, Sterling Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, UBA Plc, Unity Bank, Wema Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

Skye Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC Bank have yet to release their full-year 2015 and first-quarter 2016 financial results.

An economic analyst and Head, Investment Advisory, Afrinvest West Africa Limited, Mr. Ayodeji Ebo, said the declining profit in the financial services sector was a reflection of the challenges facing the Nigerian economy.

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

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MicroStrategy Rally Crushes Short Sellers, Wiping Out $1.92 Billion

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MicroStrategy- Investors King

Short sellers betting against MicroStrategy found themselves facing significant losses as the company’s rally wiped out $1.92 billion since March.

This development comes amidst a rally that has seen MicroStrategy’s stock outperform bitcoin, causing a considerable hit to those who had taken a bearish stance on the tech firm.

According to data from S3 Partners, short sellers have been on the losing end since March, as MicroStrategy’s stock surged, highlighting the impact of the rally on those betting against the company’s success.

This loss underscores the challenges faced by short sellers in a market where certain stocks experience rapid and unexpected price increases.

The rally in MicroStrategy’s stock is attributed to several factors, including the approval of several spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier in the year.

This move by the SEC brought bitcoin, a once-nascent asset class, closer to the mainstream and fueled investor interest in companies like MicroStrategy, known for their significant holdings of the cryptocurrency.

MicroStrategy, which held nearly 190,000 bitcoin on its balance sheet as of the end of 2023, has indicated its intention to continue increasing its exposure to the digital currency.

The company’s decision to sell convertible debt to raise money for additional bitcoin purchases further bolstered investor confidence and contributed to the stock’s rally.

Analysts at BTIG noted that the premium for MicroStrategy’s stock reflects investors’ desire to gain exposure to bitcoin indirectly, especially those who may not have the means to invest directly in the cryptocurrency or ETFs.

The company’s ability to raise capital for bitcoin purchases is seen as a positive sign for shareholders, adding to the optimism surrounding its stock.

However, despite the recent rally and optimism surrounding MicroStrategy, the crypto industry as a whole continues to be heavily shorted.

Short interest in nine of the most-watched companies in the crypto space remains high, standing at 16.73% of the total number of outstanding shares, more than three times the average in the United States.

Moreover, concerns persist regarding the SEC’s stance on cryptocurrencies, with some experts suggesting that the approval of spot bitcoin ETFs may not necessarily indicate a broader acceptance of other similar products, such as spot ethereum ETFs.

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Geregu Power Plc Announces N14.46bn Profit in Q1 2024

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Geregu Power Plc

Geregu Power Plc has announced a profit of N14.46 billion for the first quarter (Q1) of 2024.

This represents a 307% increase when compared to the same period last year.

The power-generating company, known for its pivotal role in Nigeria’s energy sector, disclosed its outstanding financial results in its interim financial statement filed with the Nigerian Exchange Limited on Tuesday.

This disclosure comes shortly after the firm’s Deputy Chief Executive, Julius Omodayo-Owotuga, hinted at the promising financial outlook during the company’s recent annual general meeting held in Lagos.

According to the interim report, Geregu Power Plc’s revenue surged to N50.42 billion in the first quarter of 2024, representing an increase of 254.37% year-on-year appreciation.

The company’s net finance income transitioned from a negative position to N133.61 million. This positive momentum was supported by a moderation in finance costs, which decreased from N3.141 billion to N2.29 billion as of March 2024.

Speaking to stakeholders at the recent annual general meeting, Femi Otedola, Chairman of Geregu Power, expressed satisfaction with the company’s exceptional financial performance in 2023.

Otedola highlighted the board’s decision to propose a dividend distribution of N8 per share for the 2023 financial year as a testament to their commitment to rewarding shareholders and confidence in the company’s future prospects.

The robust financial results for the first quarter of 2024 further solidify Geregu Power’s position as a leading player in Nigeria’s energy landscape.

The company’s commitment to operational excellence, strategic investments, and adherence to international standards, such as obtaining ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications from the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, underscores its dedication to driving sustainable growth and value creation.

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Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc Records N609.3bn Profit Before Tax in 2023

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GTCO Commemorates Listing on Nigerian Exchange - Investors King

Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO) has announced a strong profit before tax (PBT) of N609.3 billion for the 2023 financial year.

This represents an increase of 184.5 percent when compared to the previous year.

The audited consolidated and separate financial statements filed with the Nigerian Exchange Group and London Stock Exchange on Monday revealed market capitalization exceeded N1 trillion on the NGX to further solidify GTCO’s position as one of the top financial holding companies in Nigeria.

During the period under review, the group’s post-tax profit rose by 218.99 percent to N539.65 billion from N169.17 billion in 2022.

Key indicators such as loans and advances increased by 31.5 percent to N2.48 trillion, while deposits grew by 63.7 percent to N7.55 trillion.

The group’s total assets and shareholders’ funds closed at N9.7 trillion and N1.5 trillion, respectively.

Despite the challenging economic environment, GTCO maintained a strong capital adequacy ratio of 21.9 percent.

Also, the group sustained asset quality, with IFRS 9 Stage 3 loans improving to 4.2 percent in December 2023 from 5.2 percent in the same period of the prior year.

However, the cost of risk experienced an uptick, rising to 4.5 percent from 0.6 percent in December 2022, largely due to worsening macroeconomic factors.

Despite these challenges, GTCO’s pre-tax return on equity stood at 50.6 percent, while pre-tax return on assets was 7.6 percent. The cost-to-income ratio remained favorable at 29.1 percent.

Commenting on the financial results, Mr. Segun Agbaje, the Group Chief Executive Officer of GTCO, expressed satisfaction with the company’s performance amidst a challenging operating environment.

He attributed the strong performance to the successful implementation of the group’s business model across banking and non-banking business verticals.

“Also important to our success is our relentless obsession with innovation and offering great customer experiences as demonstrated by the successful redesign and upgrade of our mobile banking application, GTWorld,” he stated.

“In a landscape characterised by evolving regulatory reforms, global uncertainties, and heightened competition, we have continued to leverage our inherent strengths and capabilities to unlock significant value, creating more opportunities for the businesses and individuals we serve.

In line with its commitment to shareholders, GTCO announced a final dividend of N2.70k, bringing the total dividend for 2023 to N3.20k.

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