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CBN Suspends MTN’s Dividend Payout

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  • Shareholders Fume as CBN Suspends MTN’s Dividend Payout

Shareholders have reacted sharply to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s order on the suspension of MTN Group’s dividend payment from its Nigerian subsidiary, MTN Nigeria, over an alleged illegal repatriation of funds to South Africa.

The shareholders, who spoke to The Guardian, yesterday, faulted the move, insisting that dividend that has been declared must be paid.

The South African telecoms giant in a quarterly update to its shareholders, yesterday, in Johannesburg, South Africa, claimed that it was not guilty of the illegal repatriation charges levelled against it by the Nigerian Senate.

The CBN had ordered the four commercial banks operated by MTN to suspend dividend payout from Nigeria. The banks are Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Diamond Bank and Citi Bank. But CBN Spokesman, Isaac Okorafor, said yesterday that he was not aware of the order.

The crux of the allegation is that MTN did not obtain certificates declaring it had invested foreign currency in Nigeria within a 24-hour deadline stipulated in a 1995 law and therefore the repatriation of returns on those investments was illegal.

MTN runs the biggest wireless phone network in Nigeria, which generates a third of its annual sales. The telecoms firm had this year, agreed to pay a reduced fine of N330 billion ($1.08 billion) to end a long-running dispute over unregistered SIM cards in Nigeria.

The South African firm has also delayed its long-awaited listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), and no explanations from the firm or the exchange for the delay.

Shares in the company have fallen by more than 14 per cent to their lowest level in more than six years since the latest issue surfaced on September 27.

But shareholders, who spoke to The Guardian on the development, criticised the CBN’s decision as high-handed, considering that the dividend is shareholders’ benefits from their investment.

The President, Renaissance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Timothy Olufemi, described the suspension of the dividend as ‘uncalled for,’ noting that dividend declared is a debt that must be paid by the firm.

“Well, the accusation may be due to payment of cash dividend to foreign shareholders in dollars without due approvals. But, we do not see any reason for the suspension of cash dividend if not that they have done something wrong. It is uncalled for. Dividend must be paid when declared. It is a debt,” he said.

The President, Ibadan Zone, Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Sola Abodunrin, said: “If the dividend has been declared in an annual general meeting, MTN has no right to suspend it. The investigation that is going on is a different thing entirely. A dividend that has been declared must be paid.”

Similarly, the President, Constance Shareholders Association, Shehu Mallam Mikail, who explained that MTN has no right to suspend shareholders’ dividend, noted that the telecoms giant is making profit and getting good returns from Nigeria.

He urged the regulatory authorities to ensure that multinationals operating in Nigeria complied with the rules so as to protect investors’ rights.

Mikail noted that “The illegal transfers do not concern the issue of dividend payout and MTN can only fish out those concerned in the transfer saga and it should not stop the payment of dividend to shareholders because it is an investment.”

According to the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olushola Teniola, the CBN cannot stop a legally registered company from declaring dividends or making dividend payments, unless there is evidence of criminal activity or a court order stipulates this in rare cases.

But the President, Ibadan Zone Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Sola Abodunrin, believed the suspension should not affect MTN from listing next year as planned.

According to him, the agreement to list was part of conditions given when they were negotiating a reduction in their fine, “so as a responsible company, I do not think they will renege. Many Nigerians are looking forward to their listing.”

Timothy Olufemi, however, believed strongly that the suspension would affect MTN’s listing next year.

The South African telecoms firm in the letter to its shareholders, confirmed that “MTN Nigeria, four commercial banks, certain MTN Nigeria directors and shareholders, the Central Bank of Nigeria and others appeared before the Senate on October 20, 2016 at the outset of this investigation.

“The allegations are that $13.97 billion was repatriated illegally by MTN Nigeria through its bankers. MTN Nigeria and its bankers are cooperating with the investigation with a view to resolving the matter as expeditiously as possible.

“In the interim, the CBN has instructed the banks to suspend any remittance of dividends until further notice. MTN Nigeria continues to refute the allegations that MTN Nigeria had improperly repatriated funds from Nigeria.

“Consequently, MTN Nigeria will strongly defend any action that would be prejudicial to its interest. MTN Nigeria has no intention to make any dividend payments over the next six months.”

Senator Dino Melaye blew the lid that MTN in connivance with the Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, and four commercial banks exploited the Nigerian financial system to illegally move $13.97 billion out of the country without the required authorisation.

Meanwhile, the embattled telecommunications firm has revealed that its new chief executive will take over three months ahead of plan.

Vodafone European boss, Rob Shuter, was due to start in July next year but MTN said in a statement accompanying its quarterly update that he would now start on March 13, 2017.

South Africa-born Shuter, a banker with risk management background, will inherit a company that is the subject of a parliamentary investigation in Nigeria on whether it unlawfully repatriated $13.97 billion between 2006 and 2016.

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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Transcorp Hotels Expand into Marketplace, Launches Aura to Connect People, Hoteliers, Others

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Transcorp Hotels Plc, on Thursday, announced it has launched a new digital platform, Aura, through which people can book accommodation, restaurants and experiences.

Aura, Transcorp’s first in the alternative accommodation segment, is part of the company’s asset-light model, leveraging technology to deliver true hospitality, exciting experiences, and drive shareholder value.

It’s a new dawn in the hospitality industry! I am thrilled to introduce you to Aura by Transcorp, the digital platform we are using to connect people to quality accommodation, great food, and awesome experiences,” Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Hotels Plc. Dupe Olusola said.

For more than 30 years, Transcorp Hotels Plc has been at the forefront of creating a superior guest experience at our locations. Today, our commitment to innovation has offered us an opportunity to extend this beyond the hotel premises,” Olusola added.

The launch of Aura by Transcorp is one of the most significant developments in the company’s history as it seeks to transform the travel and tourism industry in Africa by focusing on three important components of travel, whether for leisure or business — where you stay, what you eat and how you spend your time. With its people-driven hospitality model, Aura is set to revolutionise travel and help remind Africans of our deep history of hospitality.

Speaking on the launch of Aura, Obong Idiong, Chief Executive Officer at Africa Prudential Plc, Aura’s technology partners, expressed his excitement. “Finding the right accommodation when you travel can be incredibly complex. Options available for the right prices are often limited, and travellers sometimes end up with accommodation that taints the travel experience. Transcorp Hotels Plc has been able to fix that with Aura and we are proud to be associated with them.”

To ensure topnotch user experience, we built a solution to drive digital transformation through the adoption of shared living spaces for the Aura business. With an advanced search algorithm powered by artificial intelligence, Aura determines the relevance of locations taking into consideration, the customers’ preferences and requirements to meet them at the point of their needs,” Idiong added.

Priscilla Adeboye, a travel enthusiast and early adopter of Aura, said the global pandemic has pushed international travel down her list. “But I still want to be able to take some time off work or spend a weekend away from home with the family. I have found incredible homes on Aura that meet my need for space and privacy.

 

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Siemens Energy Nigeria Appoints Seun Suleiman as Managing Director

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Seun Suleiman is the New Managing Director of Siemens Energy Nigeria

Mr. Seun Suleiman is the new managing director of Siemens Energy Nigeria, the company announced on Wednesday.

According to the statement released by the energy company, Suleiman will be responsible for the entire management of operations and decisions on business policies and corporate strategy.

Commenting on his appointment, Suleiman said, “It is an absolute honor to lead the business for Siemens Energy Nigeria and I look forward to delivering on the brand’s promise of excellence.

Suleiman joined Siemens Energy in 2014, bringing over 15 years’ experience and deep expertise in the private sector across Europe and West Africa.

The statement said, “He is an accomplished business strategist and success-driven leader with strong business acumen. Suleiman has also been a core member of the executive management team at Siemens Energy serving in roles as Sales Director West Africa – Service Distributed Generation Oil & Gas and Vice President Service & Digital.

“Prior to this, he also held various functional and managerial positions with ABB Ltd UK, ABBNG Nigeria, Schneider Electric Nigeria and Dresser-Rand Nigeria Ltd.

It added that Suleiman was experienced in establishing operational excellence with specific competence in the power, oil and gas sectors.

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FG Reopens Osubi Airport Warri for Daylight Operations

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FG Reopens Osubi Airport Warri for Daylight Operations

The Federal Government on Monday said the Osubi Airport in Warri has been reopened for daylight operations.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Siriki, disclosed this in a tweet.

The airport was closed in February 2020 over mismanagement and debt allegation involving aviation service providers and airport management.

However, Oberuakpefe Afe, a lawmaker representing Okpe/Sapeie/vaie federal constituency, recently moved a motion for the Federal Government through the ministry of aviation and relevant authorities to reopen the airport for flight operations.

On Monday, Hadi Siriki said “I have just approved the reopening of Osubi Airport Warri, for daylight operations in VFR conditions, subject to all procedures, practices and protocols, including COVID-19, strictly being observed. There will not be need for local approvals henceforth.

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