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Emirates, Kenya Airways Suspend Abuja Operations

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Emirates Airlines
  • Emirates, Kenya Airways Suspend Abuja Operations

Dubai-based Emirates Airlines and Kenya Airways have announced the suspension of their flights to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, in the face of the economic downturn in the country, foreign exchange scarcity, and the shrinking passenger traffic on international routes.

Emirates, one of the biggest foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, said it would stop flights effective October 22, while the East African carrier, Kenya Airways, has also announced that it would suspend flights to and from Abuja with effect from November 15, 2016 as part of its restructuring and loss-saving measures.

In this regard, Emirates was said to have written to the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, over its intention to stop flights from Abuja, indicating its inability to buy FX.

The letter was said to have been received by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation.

The airline was reported to have said, if after weeks off the Abuja suspension, no drastic change happens, Emirates would also suspend Lagos operations indefinitely and with that exit the Nigerian market.

Emirates like many major international carriers operating in Nigeria, has huge sums for ticket sales with the banks, which it has not been able to repatriate.

About two months ago, foreign airlines’ funds trapped in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was put at $900 million but the federal government granted the airlines access to FX at a concessionary exchange rate to enable them repatriate about 50 per cent of their ticket sales.

Besides the huge funds trapped in Nigeria, the recession has led to a reduction in passenger traffic, forcing the foreign airlines to reassess the logistics of operating from Nigeria with low load factors.

Emirates Airline has also threatened to stop its flights into Africa if the economic downturn on the continent worsens.

The president of the airline, Tim Clark, stated this in Dubai yesterday at an International Air Transport Association (IATA) forum.

Clark said foreign airlines flying to Africa now refuel abroad because jet fuel supplies had become more expensive and scarce in some African countries.

“In certain African countries, the currencies have really gone down, so we’re reflecting on a number of these to look at where it’s just not worth for us to travel,” Clark said.

He added that Emirates’ load factor – a measure of capacity utitlisation – for the rest of 2016 and 2017, would probably be in the mid-70s to low-80s in percentage terms.

Clark, however, said there would be some peaks and troughs in that time.

About a month ago, Emirates started tanking fuel from Accra, Ghana because of the scarcity of jet fuel in Nigeria.

Other foreign carriers were also forced to refuel at different locations outside the country before flying to Nigeria.

The airlines’ media office in Lagos confirmed the suspension of Abuja flights, stating: “Emirates can confirm that it’s suspending its four times weekly service between Abuja, Nigeria and Dubai with effect from 22nd October 2016.

“The decision was made after a review of the airline’s operations to ensure the best utilisation of its aircraft fleet for its overall business objectives. The airline continues to serve Nigeria with a daily flight to and from Lagos.”

In a related development, the federal government after the recent shake up at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), yesterday announced the appointment of two new directors to help the organisation realise its new set goals.

The new directors are Mrs. Nike Aboderin, who was made Director, Finance and Accounts (DFA), and Mr. Sadiku Abdulkadir Rafindadi, appointed as Director, Commercial and Business Development (DCBD).

The agency said Mrs. Aboderin is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (FCIB). She holds an M.Sc degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Lagos.

“Mrs. Aboderin possesses over 23 years experience in the financial services industry, which has exposed her to both public and private exploits at different institutions including multinationals.

“She is also an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) graduate of the Lagos Business School.

“In addition, she holds a post graduate certificate in Global Strategic Management (GSM) from the Harvard Business School, Boston, USA. She is married with children,” FAAN said in a statement signed by its acting General Manager, Public Affairs, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu.

The agency added that Rafindadi is a 1985 graduate of Economics of the University of Pittsburgh. He also holds an MBA in Finance from the Clark Atlanta University, USA.

“He attended Kaduna Polytechnic, where he obtained a certificate in Management Studies. Mr. Rafindadi is a seasoned amiable manager who started his career as a young officer and rose to the pinnacle through diligence and commitment.

“Until his current appointment, Rafindadi worked in several management capacities in different institutions, including Phoenix Investment Services and British Petroleum. He is married with children,” FAAN 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.

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Appointments

Union Bank Announces the Appointment of Aisha Abubakar as Independent Non-Executive Director

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Union bank - Investors King

Union Bank of Nigeria Plc (“Union Bank”) has announced a change to the membership of its Board of Directors with the appointment of Ms. Aisha Abubakar as an Independent Non-Executive Director effective 9th September 2021, following the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Ms. Abubakar joins the Board of Union Bank following her tenure as Nigeria’s Honourable Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development from 2018 to 2019. Prior to this, she also served as the Honourable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment between 2015 and 2018. At the start of her career, Ms. Abubakar worked at Continental Merchant Bank Ltd., African Development Bank and African International Bank.

She is an accomplished public sector administrator with over three decades of professional experience in Public Service and Pension Administration, Investment Banking, SME Finance/Rural Enterprise Development and Micro-Credit Administration.

Ms. Abubakar is a Fellow of the International Professional Managers Association (IPMA-UK), and the President of the International Experts Consultants (IEC-UK).

Commenting on the addition to the Board, Mrs. Beatrice Hamza Bassey, Union Bank’s Board Chair said: “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I welcome Ms. Aisha Abubakar to the Board. She brings many years of robust experience which will be invaluable in supporting our efforts to steer the Bank forward and deliver on our strategic objectives.”

Also commenting, Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Emeka Okonkwo said: “I am pleased to welcome our new Independent Non-Executive Director, Ms. Aisha Abubakar to the Board. We look forward to drawing from her wealth of experience and fresh perspectives as we continue to execute our vision to be Nigeria’s most reliable and trusted partner.”

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Business

AfDB Approves $50M Trade Finance Deal with Standard Chartered Bank

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The African Development Bank Group has approved a $50m Trade Finance Unfunded Risk Participation Agreement (RPA) for StandardChartered Bank.

This was contained in a statement titled ‘African Development Bank approves a $50m Multinational Trade Finance Risk Participation Agreement facility for Standard Chartered Bank’ published on the bank’s website on Wednesday.

The statement said, “The board of directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a $50m Trade Finance Unfunded Risk Participation Agreement facility between the African Development Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.”

The essence of this agreement is to promote intra-Africa trade, ensure regional integration and lessen the trade finance gap in Africa.

“The agreement is expected to boost intra-Africa trade, promote regional integration, and contribute to the reduction of the trade finance gap in Africa, in line with implementation aspirations of the African Continental Free Trade Area,”

The bank’s Director for Financial Sector Development, Stefan Nalletamby, stated that “We are excited about finalising this facility with Standard Chartered Bank as it offers us the flexibility to use our strong AAA-rated risk-bearing capacity to increase access to trade finance and boost intra/extra-African trade on the continent, in support of the AfCFTA.

“This partnership is expected to catalyze more than $600m in value of trade finance transactions across multi-sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and energy over the next three years.”

Director-General of the bank’s Southern Africa region, Leila Mokadem, was quoted to have said, “The advent of COVID-19, coupled with stringent regulatory/capital requirements and Know Your Customer compliance enforcement, has seen many global banks reduce their correspondent banking relationships in Africa, while some are exiting the market altogether.

“There is, therefore, an urgent need for financing to reenergise Africa’s trade, which requires more participation of institutions like the African Development Bank.”

The parties in the agreement are expected to share the default risk on a portfolio of eligible trade transactions originated by African Issuing Banks and indemnified by Standard Chartered Bank.

Beneficiaries of this facility are issuing banks in Africa with the ability to grow their trade finance business has been constrained by inadequate trade confirmation lines from international banks.

Other beneficiaries are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and domestic firms which rely on these issuing banks to fulfill their trade finance commitments.

The RPA facility is aligned with the AfDB’s High 5 priority goals which are: light up and power Africa, feed Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa, and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

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SMEs

Standard Chartered Launches Flexible ‘Smart Business Loan’ Product To Support SMEs

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Standard Chartered Nigeria - Investors King

Standard Chartered on Wednesday launched its Smart Business Loan (SBL) product to support Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) in Nigeria.

David Idoru, Head of Consumer, Private and Business Banking, of the bank in Nigeria, said in a statement in Lagos that SBL was an unsecured installment/term loan available to SME clients within key target sectors.

“Qualified SMEs would be able to access up to N20million loan, without providing tangible security/collateral to purchase asset, finance business expansion and other capital expenditure needs.

“This loan was designed to help SMEs meet their short to medium-term needs.

“As a Bank, our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity in the locations we operate in. This is done through offering cash, lending, trade and wealth management solutions that specifically drive economic growth,” he said.

Idoru said that the bank was constantly looking for ways to ensure SMEs get access to the needed support to enable their businesses to thrive, adding that prior to the product launch, clients were required to provide full collateral cover to access loans from the bank, but SBL had been designed to provide the necessary flexibility to the clients.

“It is accessible to new and existing clients of the Bank with no waiting period, including small and medium scale organisations, who can access up to N20million in loans without collateral for a maximum tenure of two years,” he said.

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