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We’ve Enough Dollars for End Users, Says CBN

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Senate
  • We’ve Enough Dollars for End Users

The Bankers Committee of the Central Bank on Thursday declared that there was adequate stock of foreign exchange to sustain the spate of dollar sales to various segments of forex market.

The regulator stressed that it was in possession of adequate stock of dollars to ensure that it met the demands of all genuine bank customers in the country.

The Director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Ahmed Abdullahi, said this at a press briefing held along some chief executive officers of banks shortly after the committee’s meeting in Lagos.

Abdullahi said, “The recent development in the forex market has led to prices turning downwards and convergence of rates and the positive effect of that on the economy. We have seen inflation trending downwards. There is a forecast that by the second quarter of this year, the economy will be out of recession and we are going to see positive growth.

“The fact is that the CBN has the arsenal in its war chest to be able to sustain what is happening in the forex market. That is why the CBN recently introduced new FX windows for the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises to access forex through their banks with minimum documentation.”

He added, “There is also another initiative, the investor/exporter window, where it will be a market where prices will be determined by market forces, and it is a window that will allow investors to come in and trade their forex at a price they consider appropriate. Because of the convergence of rates, confidence is going to be built in the market so we are likely to see investors come in.

“In order to further build confidence, that is why we have this window that will enable them come in and improve the inflow of forex in the economy.”

According to the CBN director, the committee has agreed to allow banks to use five per cent of their profits after tax to provide equity funding for SMEs and agricultural companies.

He said, “The important thing is the economy and the committee also emphasised the issue of financing the SMEs and agriculture, using five per cent of the banks’ profits. That will help in fast-tracking the process of the economy coming out of recession.

“So, the banks are determined to contribute five per cent of their profits to be used in providing equity funding for agriculture and all small-scale businesses in the export drive.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Rand Merchant Bank, Mr. Michael Larbie, said the committee was committed to providing forex to end-users.

“In line with that, the banking community is committed to further ensuring that forex is available for all legitimate personal and business travels. As a result, the banks now are committed to having travel desks and cubicles in most of their branches where appropriate exchange rates will be duly published so that anyone that walks in and requires business travel allowance will get it,” Larbie explained.

The Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said the committee also agreed to establish a central database to enable the banking industry to identify and remove suspected electronic fraudsters from the system.

This, he said, would lead to the reduction of e-banking and card frauds.

The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Charles Kie, said the committee emphasised the need for all the banks to continue to support the economy in order to get it out of recession.

The Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said factors that drove the economy into recession were being addressed already.

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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GTBank Takes 60 Bank Executives to Court Over N17bn Loan Dispute

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Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) has initiated legal proceedings against 60 top executives from 13 commercial banks in Nigeria.

The action stems from an ongoing dispute involving a N17 billion Anchor Borrowers Programme loan granted to AFEX Commodity Exchange.

The executives, including chairmen, chief executive officers, directors, and company secretaries, are facing contempt of court charges for allegedly failing to enforce a No-Debit-Order on AFEX Commodity Exchange’s accounts. The legal battle, which has drawn significant attention in the financial sector, is being closely monitored by industry stakeholders.

Details of the Case

The Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over by Justice CJ Aneke, signed an order to hold the executives accountable for disobeying its ruling dated May 27, 2024.

The court’s decision mandates the executives, including those from prominent banks such as Access Bank, Citibank, Jaiz Bank, Union Bank, Fidelity Bank, and First Bank of Nigeria Plc, to comply with the directive or face jail time.

The case, registered as FHC/L/CS/911/2024, involves GTBank and AFEX Commodity Exchange. The court had previously ordered 20 banks to transfer funds from AFEX’s accounts to GTBank until the outstanding N17.81 billion loan is repaid.

This sum includes the principal amount of N15.77 billion and additional recovery costs and expenses totaling N2.04 billion.

Contempt Proceedings

The legal notice, titled ‘Order to Serve Notice of Disobedience to Order of Court via Newspaper Publication,’ was published in national dailies, signaling the gravity of the situation.

The notice serves as a warning to the bank executives about the consequences of failing to adhere to the court’s order.

In addition to the commercial banks, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), acting as the liquidator for Heritage Bank, has also been cited for contempt.

The matter is set for further hearing next Thursday, where the court will decide the fate of the implicated executives.

Background and Implications

The dispute originates from a loan facility extended to AFEX Commodity Exchange under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme.

The loan was intended to finance smallholder farmers, with repayment expected through the sale of agricultural produce. However, AFEX reportedly defaulted on the loan, prompting GTBank to seek legal recourse.

AFEX has countered by stating that it has repaid 90% of the loan and is in ongoing discussions with the CBN regarding the remaining balance. The commodities exchange has cited economic challenges and macroeconomic policies, such as the naira redesign, which adversely affected the farmers’ ability to repay the loans.

The court has also permitted GTBank to take control of AFEX’s 16 warehouses across seven states, allowing the bank to sell the stored commodities to recover the outstanding loan.

Industry Reaction

The case has sparked concerns about the efficiency and integrity of Nigeria’s banking and financial sectors.

Charles Akinbobola, a senior energy analyst at Sofidam Capital, said, “The challenge of the power sector has not entirely been the scarcity of funds. Several trillions of naira have been pumped into that industry. The sector has been plagued by the shortcomings of its managers.”

Experts like Muda Yusuf, CEO of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, emphasize the need for addressing fundamental issues in the electricity value chain, such as technical and commercial losses, which continue to burden consumers with inefficiency costs.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the financial community will be watching closely to see how this high-stakes battle impacts the involved parties and the broader financial sector in Nigeria.

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Banking Sector

Guaranty Trust Holding Plans N500 Billion Share Offering

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Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCOPLC) has announced plans to raise up to N500 billion through a new share offering, according to a preliminary prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This move aims to support the company’s ambitious growth and expansion strategy.

GTCOPLC’s proposed offering will involve the subscription of ordinary shares of 50 kobo each, although the exact number of shares and the price range are yet to be determined.

The offering includes a concurrent filing of a preliminary universal shelf registration statement, allowing the company to issue various types of securities, potentially raising up to $750 million in multiple currencies.

Purpose of the Offering

The funds raised from this offering will primarily be allocated towards:

  1. Business Growth and Expansion: GTCOPLC plans to invest significantly in technology infrastructure to enhance its current operations. Additionally, the company intends to establish new subsidiaries and make selective acquisitions of non-banking businesses.
  2. Recapitalization of Guaranty Trust Bank Limited: Part of the proceeds will be used to strengthen the capital base of its banking subsidiary.

Target Investors and Structure

The offering is structured to attract both institutional and retail investors. It will be divided into two main tranches:

  • Nigerian Tranche: An institutional and retail offering aimed at eligible investors within Nigeria.
  • International Tranche: A private placement targeting qualified institutional buyers outside Nigeria.

Listing and Trading

GTCOPLC has also filed an application with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) to list and admit the new ordinary shares for trading on the NGX Official List.

The company anticipates opening the offering by July 2024.

Financial Strategy

The universal shelf registration will enable GTCOPLC to issue a variety of securities over time, with a total value of up to $750 million (or its equivalent in Nigerian Naira).

This approach provides the company with flexibility to raise capital in different markets during the programme’s validity period. The current proposed offering will be the first issuance under this new programme.

Regulatory Compliance

GTCOPLC emphasized that this notice does not constitute an offer of securities for sale in the United States or to U.S. persons, as defined under Regulation S of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933.

The offered shares have not been, and will not be, registered under the U.S. Securities Act or any state securities laws, and cannot be sold in the United States without proper registration or an applicable exemption.

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Loans

China Maintains One-Year Policy Loan Rate at 2.5%, Avoids Excessive Liquidity

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China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), has decided to keep the key interest rate steady for the tenth consecutive month.

On Monday, the PBOC announced that the rate on one-year policy loans, known as the medium-term lending facility (MLF), will remain at 2.5%.

This decision aligns with the forecasts of a Bloomberg survey, reflecting the bank’s priority to maintain financial stability amid a fragile economic recovery.

The central bank also took measures to manage liquidity, withdrawing a net 55 billion yuan ($7.6 billion) from the banking system.

This action aims to prevent excessive liquidity, which could lead to further depreciation of the yuan. By maintaining a cautious stance on monetary easing, the PBOC underscores its focus on currency stability over lowering borrowing costs.

This move comes as China grapples with mixed economic signals. While exports exceeded expectations in May, inflation rose less than anticipated, and factory activity saw an unexpected contraction according to an official survey.

Despite these challenges, the PBOC’s restraint reflects a strategic choice to prioritize the strength of the yuan, even as calls for a rate cut grow louder.

Last week, the onshore yuan weakened to its lowest level since November, driven by a wide interest rate gap between the US and China.

The PBOC’s decision to hold rates steady is seen as an effort to prevent further devaluation of the yuan, which remains a “powerful currency” according to financial authorities.

Sufficient market liquidity has also influenced the central bank’s decision to refrain from outright rate cuts.

This is evidenced by the declining borrowing costs of popular debt instruments, such as one-year AAA-rated negotiable certificates of deposits, which have dropped to around 2%, compared to the MLF’s 2.5%.

The influx of funds from savings to wealth management products and other higher-yielding assets has bolstered the financial system’s liquidity, allowing the PBOC to adopt a more conservative stance.

China’s economy has experienced a patchy recovery, with government bond sales accelerating to boost infrastructure spending amidst a prolonged property slump.

Despite these efforts, the central bank remains cautious, opting for stability over aggressive monetary easing.

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