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Nigeria Remains ‘Critical’ Market in Africa Despite Recession, Say Investors

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  • Nigeria Remains ‘Critical’ Market in Africa Despite Recession

Investors have expressed confidence in the resurgence of Nigeria’s struggling economy, describing it as ‘very critical’ to building African companies that could join the league of top 500 in the next eight years.

A panel of discussants, including chief executives of MTN, Honeywell, KPMG, CFAO and the Casablanca Finance City Authority, at the Africa CEO Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday said despite the volatility in Nigeria’s economy, it is still an important market.

“The fact that it is passing through volatility is not enough to reconsider investment of $16 billion invested in the last 10 to 12 years,” said Mr. Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN’s non-executive chairman.

Also, Chairman of Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko, agreed with Phuthuma, stressing, however, that Africa “has the responsibility for its survival.”Otudeko, who chairs the Honeywell Group, stated that First Bank, Ecobank and United Bank for Africa (UBA) have begun to show what African companies could become in terms of size but insisted that good business environment would speed up the process of growth.

He stated that economic recession and plunge in global oil prices meant that revenues of Nigerian companies were taking great shocks. But he insisted that “volatility is also part of the character of economies throughout the world, not just Nigeria.”

Besides, the investors agreed that African governments needed to create the necessary business environment for companies to grow optimally and join the league of top 500 companies.

Richard Bille of the CFAO noted that though his company’s $6 billion investments in Africa would be a tough beginning on the road to achieving the feat, the domestic markets in Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa and Egypt would be sufficient for African companies to begin to aspire if only governments could encourage stock exchanges to grow bigger.

“We need stock markets with liquidity,” he said.Brian Leith of the KPMG noted that companies on the top 500 should have an average of $21 billion in turnover and expressed the concern that South Africa’s insurance giant, Allianz, though among the top 500, was not listed as African because of diluted shareholding.

“Nigeria remains the biggest domestic market; so, the biggest companies are in the best position to become pan-African power houses,” Dr. Andrew S. Nevin, chief economist of the PWC, told The Guardian at the conference.He said the Federal Government “should be encouraging these companies to expand and also encouraging state governments to embrace these firms.”

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.

Investment

SEC Warns Against Proliferation of Unregistered Investment Platforms

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned the investing public to be wary of the proliferation of unregistered online investment and trading platforms facilitating access to trading in securities listed in foreign markets.

SEC’s warning was conveyed via a circular issued in Abuja, Thursday to capital market operators.

It advised the investing public to seek clarification as may be required via its established channels of communication on investment products.

The circular read: “The attention of the SEC has been drawn to the existence of several providers of online investment and trading platforms which purportedly facilitate direct access of the investing public in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to securities of foreign companies listed on securities exchanges registered in other jurisdictions.

“These platforms also claim to be operating in partnership with capital market operators (CMOs) registered with the Commission.”

The Commission categorically stated that by the provisions of Sections 67-70 of the Investments and Securities Act (ISA), 2007 and Rules 414 & 415 of the SEC Rules and Regulations, only foreign securities listed on any exchange registered in Nigeria may be issued, sold or offered for sale or subscription to the Nigerian public.

Accordingly, the SEC notified CMOs who work in concert with the referenced online platforms of the Commission’s position and advised them to desist henceforth.

Public to seek clarification as may be required via its established channels of communication on investment products advertised through conventional or online mediums.

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SoftBank Reaps $33 Billion Coupang Windfall

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SoftBank Group Corp on Thursday racked up a roughly $33 billion gain on paper through the public market debut of South Korea’s largest e-commerce company, Coupang Inc, the latest sign of a dramatic turnaround for its $100 billion Vision Fund.

Shares of Coupang opened 81% above their offer price on Thursday, after the company raised $4.6 billion in the U.S. stock market’s biggest initial public offering this year.

SoftBank paid around $3 billion for a 37% stake in the company, according to sources familiar with earlier fund-raising, giving it a roughly $33 billion headline profit if prices hold.

Coupang’s hugely successful stock market launch is welcome news for SoftBank, which is grappling with the collapse of billions of dollars worth of funds linked to Britain’s Greensill Capital, a supply chain finance start-up.

Vision Fund is Greensill’s biggest backer.

The Japanese conglomerate last month reported third-quarter net profit ballooned more than 20 times thanks to a recovery at the Vision Fund, a huge venture capital operation famous for investing early in Uber and other tech industry startup successes.

Only a year ago, SoftBank had been smarting from the flopped IPO and collapse in value of office sharing firm WeWork, raising questions over whether Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son had lost his midas touch and threatening plans to establish a successor to Vision.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced Son to sell assets but a second deal reported by Reuters on Thursday bodes well for VF II, a second, smaller fund.

The $225 million late-stage funding round for healthcare startup Forward Health was its first major investment this year, following a pickup in activity and the group’s fortunes in the second half of 2020.

The Vision Fund also made $11 billion on a blockbuster market launch of DoorDash Inc in December, which valued the food delivery company at more than $70 billion.

It also made gains on home seller Opendoor Technologies Inc’s initial offering in December.

The fund still holds large stakes in China’s biggest ride-hailing firm Didi, as well as Uber’s Southeast Asian rival Grab.

SoftBank is also trying to ride the mania for special purpose acquisition companies, launching a handful of blank-check firms this year, although none of them have found investment targets yet.

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Agence Francaise De Developpement (AFD) To €2 billion in Nigeria

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The French Development Agency (AFD) is a development finance institution 100 percent held by the French government.

In Nigeria, it is mainly into financing infrastructure projects (water, energy, transport and agriculture).

It also involves financing related to the banking sector, governance and the cultural and creative industries.

Speaking to the media, the AFD Country Director Nigeria, Pascal Grangereau, said €2 billion was set aside to be sent on mainly road financing, water sector, improvement in electricity and agriculture.

He said €300 million was being spent on the Abuja Electricity Backup, a project in collaboration with Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to improve electricity at the nation’s capital.

Grangereau said a total of €200 million is equally expended on the North West Electricity Backup.

On agriculture, he said vocational training is currently held across the nation to improve the skills of Nigerians.

He added: “We intend to finance agricultural projects in five states, Benue, Imo and three other states to the tune of €50 million.”

He lamented that while it was endowed with reserves of crude oil and natural gas, Nigeria is characterised by power generation considered by the Nigerians themselves as not adequate.

He said concentrating more than half of the installed electricity capacity in West Africa, only half of which was harnessed by the country, implying a very low per capita consumption, limited access to electricity and frequent load shedding.

He added: “The sector is of strategic importance for successive governments, with the launching in the 2000s of a vast reform, supported by a massive investment plan; which reform although supported by the donors is yet to achieve the expected results. The project aims to strengthen the electricity transmission network, natural monopoly under the responsibility of the public company TCN, thus laying the foundations for a long-term partnership with TCN.”

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