Wema Bank Plc has transferred its majority equity stake in the 56-year-old Great Nigeria Insurance (GNI) Plc to Insurance Resourcery and Consultancy Services Limited in a deal worth N3.24 billion.
A transaction document obtained by The Nation at the weekend showed that the divestiture was concluded last week with the transfer of Wema Bank’s shares to Insurance Resourcery through a special purpose window of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
The report showed that a total of 2.87 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each of GNI were crossed in a single deal to Insurance Resourcery at N1.13 per share through the negotiated cross deal window of the Exchange.
The cross deal, which was done through the off-market, negotiated cross deals window, was not subjected to the dynamics of price discovery for the particular period as off-market trade implies that the deal was sealed outside the floor of the NSE.
The negotiated cross deal platform of the Exchange is a special-purpose trading platform that is meant for voluminous transaction. By the cross deal, it implies that the buyer and the seller had been prearranged and the transfer at the stock market was a mere perfection of the agreement between the two. The negotiated cross deal allows the parties to the deal to close the deal at reduced cost.
At N1.13 per share, the transaction cost represents 126 per cent increase on the current market value of GNI, which has stagnated at its nominal value of 50 kobo per share. GNI currently has total paid up capital of 3.827 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each with a market capitalisation of N1.91 billion.
A market pundit said the transaction cost further underlined the undervaluation of several stocks at the Exchange, coming after recent audit showed that Conoil’s net asset per share was higher than its market price.
The Nation had reported earlier that authorities at the NSE, where both Wema Bank and GNI are listed, had approved the divestment.
GNI started operations in 1960 and its businesses include general and life insurance.
Following Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s banking regulatory regime that required banks to either divest from non-core banking subsidiaries or form a holding company to hold those subsidiaries, Wema Bank had opted to divest from its non-core banking businesses including GNI. The bank had since divested from Wema Insurance Brokers Limited, Wema Registrars Limited, Independent Securities Limited and Whyte Cleon Limited. It also integrated operations of four subsidiaries into its core banking business including Wema Asset Management Limited, Wema Securities and Finance Plc, Wema Homes (Savings and Loans) Limited and Wise Properties Limited. Wema Bank had 100 per cent equity stakes in the trio of Wema Registrars, Wema Insurance Brokers and Whyte Cleon Limited while it had 94.7 per cent stake in Independent Securities and 75 per cent in GNI.
Meanwhile, the new core investor, a relatively unknown firm, will be required to restructure GNI’s issued share capital to dilute the existing concentrated shareholdings of the core investors and allow more investments from the general investing public.
In the latest report on public shareholding status in quoted companies obtained by The Nation, the NSE indicated that GNI and 10 other companies were in violation of the listing requirement, which compels companies quoted on the main board of the NSE to ensure that a minimum of 20 per cent of its issued shares is in the hand of the general investing public.
Companies listed on the Exchange are required to maintain a minimum free float for the set standards under which they are listed in order to ensure that there is an orderly and liquid market in their securities. The free float requirement for companies on the main board is 20 per cent while companies on the second board, otherwise known as Alternative Securities Market (ASEM) are required to have 15 per cent free float.
CBN Extends Letter of Credit Issuance Timeline Amid Forex Crisis
Move Aims to Address FX Scarcity Challenges and Enhance Customer Service
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced an extension of the timeline for issuing letters of credit from 24 hours to five working days, according to the newly approved 2023 service charter.
This adjustment comes as the country grapples with foreign exchange scarcity, impacting local and international trade.
The 2020 service charter initially stipulated a 24-hour timeline for the issuance and management of letters of credit, but the updated charter now reflects a timeline extension to five working days.
Also, the CBN has prolonged the timeline for the registration of Form M and NXP from 24 hours to two working days.
The move follows the CBN’s unification of all forex market segments in June 2023, aimed at promoting liquidity and stability.
However, this measure appears to have led to increased market instability, with the naira losing nearly a fifth of its value.
Reports indicate that foreign suppliers are now rejecting letters of credit from Nigerian businesses, affecting the importation of goods and services.
Letters of credit are crucial for the payment of visible goods imports, wherein a bank commits in writing to pay the exporter a specified sum within a defined timeframe upon receipt of proper documentation from the customer.
The extended timelines for letters of credit, Forms M, and NXP in the service charter are seen as measures to manage cash flow and instill confidence in the process amidst the ongoing forex crisis.
CBN Governor Yemi Cardoso stressed the commitment to responsive and citizen-friendly governance through efficient, responsible, and transparent service delivery in the revised service charter.
The move is part of the CBN’s effort to comply with the Business Facilitation Act 2022 and enhance ease of doing business in Nigeria.
Unity Bank MD Advocates Policy Actions to Stem Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria
The Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun has called for comprehensive policy actions that will dismantle the structures that enable gender-based violence in Nigeria.
At the Ebony Life Cinema, the venue of the film screening in Lagos, Unity Bank supported the BECKMA movie premiere by ARDA Development Commuications Inc. which was held to highlight issues of Gender-Based violence and driving positive change in society.
Making the call, Somefun stated that the Bank committed to partnering with the movie premiere and putting the power of the brand behind BECKMA as the event brings sustainability and gender equality to the front burner.
Represented by Unity Bank’s Group Head of Compliance, Mrs. Patricia Ahunanya, Somefun noted that “9 percent of women aged 15 to 49 had suffered sexual assault at least once in their lifetime and 31% had experienced physical violence,” citing a recent study by UNDP in Nigeria.
Speaking further, Somefun said “Gender-based violence is not just a women’s issue, but a societal ill that demands our collective attention. It is high time for us to step forward and advocate for comprehensive policy actions that will dismantle the structures allowing such atrocities to persist”.
She added, “I urge policymakers to enact stringent laws against gender-based violence, ensuring swift and severe consequences for perpetrators. Our homes and various organisations must also be a catalyst for change, inspiring others to follow suit.”
While commending the ARDA Development Communications Inc. for their initiatives to promote gender equality and empowerment in line with SDG5, Somefun assured of the Bank’s commitment to sustainable initiatives and further collaborative initiatives and advocacy programmes for the elimination of gender-based violence.
Nigeria’s NIBSS Directs Banks to Disconnect Non-Deposit Financial Institutions from NIP System
Banks in Nigeria have received a directive from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to disconnect Switches, Payment Solution Service Providers (PSSPs), and Super Agents from the NIBSS Instant Payment Outwards System.
The circular, dated December 5, 2023, highlighted that including these non-deposit-taking financial institutions as beneficiaries on the NIP funds transfer channels violates the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guideline on electronic payments.
The NIBSS emphasized that while Switches, PSSPs, and Super Agents might process outward transfers as inflows to banks, their licenses do not permit them to hold customers’ funds.
The circular referred to the CBN’s guidelines on electronic payment of salaries, pensions, suppliers, and taxes, dated February 2014, as the basis for this regulatory stance.
The directive also pointed to a circular dated May 11, 2018, titled “Permissible Services and Products of PSSP Operation in Nigeria,” reinforcing the need for compliance.
As a result, banks were urged to delist all Switches, PSSPs, and Super Agents from the NIP Outward Transfer channels while allowing their participation in inward transfers.
In Nigeria’s payment ecosystem, operators are required to obtain licenses such as Switching and Processing, Mobile Money Operations, Payment Solution Services, or Regulatory Sandbox from the CBN.
Only Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) have the authority to hold customer funds, according to the CBN’s regulatory framework.
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