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Fitch: Nigerian Banks’ Eurobonds Offering to Ease Foreign Currency Maturity Gaps

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  • Fitch: Nigerian Banks’ Eurobonds Offering to Ease Foreign Currency Maturity Gaps

Fitch Ratings, a global rating agency has described the return of Nigerian banks to the international bond markets as a step towards reducing maturity mismatches between their foreign-currency (FC) assets and liabilities.

This, according to the agency, would help lessens FC liquidity risk, but pointed out that the impact would be modest as the new bond issuances are small relative to total term FC lending.

A statement from Fitch yesterday, explained that the renewed interest from international investors seeking yield had enabled several banks to issue Eurobonds since late 2016, for the first time since 2014, albeit at higher yields following rating downgrades in the intervening period.

In most cases, the issuance would boost FC funding rather than simply refinance maturing FC debt.

“Nigerian banks have traditionally operated with significant maturity gaps, funding longer-term loans with short-term customer deposits, as is the case in many emerging markets. For FC liquidity, there are no prudential limits in place,” it added.

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) regulatory liquidity ratio (requiring banks to hold liquid assets equivalent to 30 per cent of total deposits) is focused exclusively on naira liquidity.

There are regulatory limits to control open FC positions in banking and trading books, but these target the management of market risk and its potential impact on banks’ capital rather than liquidity risk. The term of bank lending has gradually lengthened since 2012 when Nigeria opened up opportunities for investment in the oil sector.

“We estimate that about half of all bank loans are medium-term with maturities of three to four years. These are largely in FC. This is a high share for a low-rated market where banks have limited access to longer-term FC funding. FC term loans underwent considerable restructuring last year and this year, particularly among oil-related borrowers facing cash flow constraints given weak oil prices and disruptions in production.

“The devaluation of the naira in mid-2016 also caused debt servicing problems as borrowers reliant on naira revenue streams struggled to find additional funds to repay rising FC obligations. Loan restructuring typically involves a two- to three-year maturity extension, pushing out final maturities to 2019 and beyond.

“Sources of longer-term FC funding are limited for Nigerian banks and we estimate that FC funding equates to less than half of FC sector loans. Nigerian banks are infrequent issuers on the international capital markets, but three leading banks with deposit market shares near or above 10 per cent have issued medium-term Eurobonds since fourth quarter of 2016,” Fitch added.

While Zenith Bank had issued $500 million, United Bank for Africa -$500 million; and Access Bank -$300 million. Also, last week, Fidelity Bank, issued $400 million.

“We think more banks may follow. Outstanding FC bonds issued by banks totalled $4 billion at end-June 2017, the bulk of which is in Eurobonds,” the agency added.

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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Energy

Federal Government Announces Free CNG Conversion for Commercial Vehicles

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The Federal Government declared on Thursday that the conversion of petrol and diesel-powered commercial vehicles to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) will be free of charge.

The announcement came after the government signed agreements with several companies specializing in the conversion of petrol and diesel vehicles to CNG.

Michael Oluwagbemi, the Programme Director/Chief Executive of the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas Initiative (P-CNGI), disclosed the details of the program to journalists in Abuja.

“Today we’ve just signed with five partners here in the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) participating in the Conversion Incentive Programme,” Oluwagbemi stated.

“The program is tackling the barrier to Nigerian commercial transport operators to convert from PMS (petrol) to gas. Most of them have said that the cost of conversion is expensive, and so what we are doing here today is basically to respond to that concern.”

Benefits for Commercial Transport Operators

The initiative primarily targets commercial transporters under various unions, including the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).

According to Oluwagbemi, these unionized operators will receive conversion kits and installation services completely free of charge.

“This is going to be done through certified conversion workshops that we are beginning to identify. We’ve identified about 123 of them, and five are here with us today in Abuja. As we expand across the country, we will activate more of them,” he said.

Ride Share Operators Included

In addition to unionized commercial transporters, ride share operators such as those working with Uber, Bolt, Lag-Ride, and Move will also benefit from the program. These operators will receive a 50% discount on the conversion equipment and free installation.

Furthermore, the arrangement allows them to pay for the remaining costs in installments, eliminating the need for upfront payments.

“We hope to add more ride share operators soon. Lag-Ride has already signed up, and we are going to send the agreement next week,” Oluwagbemi added.

Impact on Transportation Costs

Through this program, the government aims to reduce transportation costs for Nigerians. Oluwagbemi highlighted that over 20,000 kits will be available in the next three months, distributed across 25 states with existing CNG capacity.

This initiative is part of a broader palliative program funded by the National Assembly, which has allocated additional resources for the acquisition of more kits later this year.

“The agreement we signed today ensures that the savings from the conversion will be passed on to ordinary Nigerians. We will begin to see some impact in terms of reduced transportation costs,” Oluwagbemi noted.

Monitoring and Enforcement

To ensure the success of the program, the government has implemented a robust monitoring mechanism.

The Nigerian gas vehicle monitoring system will oversee the conversion process and ensure compliance with agreed pricing reductions.

“We have a very strong monitoring mechanism around conversion and the enforcement of reduced pricing for Nigerians. The framework of the agreement includes significant pass-on of savings to ensure the purpose of the palliative is achieved,” Oluwagbemi emphasized.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Oil Production Rises by 25,000 Barrels Daily, Hits 1.276 Million BPD in July

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Nigeria’s daily oil production increased in July by 25,000 barrels per day to 1.276 million barrels per day (mbpd).

This development was disclosed by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in its Monthly Oil Market Report for June, based on direct communication with the Nigerian government.

In April, production was recorded at 1.28mbpd, but it fell to 1.25mbpd in May.

Secondary sources cited by OPEC indicated a slight decrease from 1.37mbpd in May to 1.36mbpd in June.

This disparity shows Nigeria’s challenges in maintaining a steady increase in oil production.

Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), had previously stated that crude production was approaching 1.7mbpd in May.

Kyari emphasized the potential for higher production levels, recalling that during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, Nigeria’s production reached 2.2mbpd without new drilling activities.

The drop in production since then has been attributed to various factors, including theft and vandalism of oil infrastructure.

Despite these challenges, Nigeria’s oil production saw a marginal increase in April, rising from 1.23mbpd in March to 1.28mbpd, according to OPEC data.

This increase followed a significant drop from 1.32mbpd in February to 1.23mbpd in March.

Stakeholders have expressed concern over the persistent decline in production and its impact on revenue.

In response, the NNPC declared a state of emergency on oil production, aiming to address the factors hindering output.

At the Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition Week in Abuja, Kyari reaffirmed the NNPC’s commitment to tackling production challenges.

“We have declared war on the challenges affecting our crude oil production. We know what to fight, we have the right tools, and we are working with our partners to improve the situation,” Kyari stated.

The recent increase in daily oil production is a positive development for Nigeria’s oil sector, but sustained efforts are required to achieve long-term stability and growth in production levels.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Climb as U.S. Inflation Eases, Brent Hits $86

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Crude oil - Investors King

Oil prices rose on Friday after traders noticed signs of easing inflationary pressures in the United States, the world’s largest oil consumer.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, had risen by 72 cents, or 0.8% to $86.12 a barrel.

Meanwhile, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil climbed by 85 cents, or 1%, to $83.47 a barrel. Both contracts had also gained in the prior two sessions.

Despite these gains, Brent crude oil was poised to fall by about 1% week-on-week after four consecutive weekly increases.

WTI crude oil, on the other hand, remained broadly stable on a weekly basis.

Investor confidence was boosted after data released on Thursday showed that U.S. consumer prices fell in June, fueling hopes that the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates soon.

Lower rates are expected to spur economic growth, thereby increasing fuel consumption.

However, the market is still awaiting more definitive signs of action. While Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the recent trend of improving price pressures, he told lawmakers that more data would be needed to strengthen the case for rate cuts.

“Cooling U.S. inflation numbers may support the case for the Fed to kick-start its policy easing process earlier rather than later, but it also adds to the series of downside surprises in U.S. economic data, which points to a clear weakening of the U.S. economy,” said Yeap Jun Rong, a market strategist at IG.

In addition to inflation data, indications of strong summer fuel demand in the U.S. also supported prices. U.S. gasoline demand was at 9.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in the week ended July 5, the highest level since 2019 for the week that includes the Independence Day holiday, according to government data released on Wednesday.

Jet fuel demand on a four-week average basis was at its strongest since January 2020.

“The market will remain range-bound, paralyzed by opposing forces of expected demand recovery fueled by anticipation of a strong summer for fuel consumption … but sentiment remains pegged by ongoing economic weakness and uncertain demand recovery,” said Emril Jamil, a senior oil analyst at LSEG.

The strong fuel demand encouraged U.S. refiners to ramp up activity and draw from crude oil stockpiles. U.S. Gulf Coast refiners’ net input of crude rose last week to more than 9.4 million bpd for the first time since January 2019, government data showed.

However, weaker demand signs from China, the world’s largest oil importer, could counter the positive outlook from the U.S. and weigh on prices.

“The recent downside correction is evidently over, although the speed of further ascent might be hindered by falling Chinese crude oil imports, which plummeted 11% in June from the previous year,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

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