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Nigeria, SSA Countries’ Debts Rise by 550% to $200bn – Report

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  • Nigeria, SSA Countries’ Debts Rise by 550% to $200bn – Report

The total borrowing from the international debt markets by Nigeria and other countries in the sub-Saharan African countries has jumped to over $200bn, from $30bn in 2007, data from the Bank for International Settlements have shown.

This represents an increase of over 550 per cent within the period.

Governments across sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria are hitting international debt markets hard and fast to try to beat rising borrowing costs, pushing the region’s debt levels to new highs, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

While Nigeria has raised $5.5bn over the past three months, Kenya wants to borrow at least $1.5bn, and Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal are all queuing up.

The flurry of bond issuance adds to an already-record debt tally for sub-Saharan Africa, which has ballooned to over $200bn from less than $30bn in 2007.

“If you have a lot of issuance in a short period of time, that tells you something,” an asset manager at Standard Life Aberdeen, Kevin Daly, said.

“Maybe these guys are realising that their borrowing costs are going to potentially go higher over the course of the year if we get a continued rise in Treasury yields and further rate hikes by the Fed.”

With investors busy assessing where the United States Federal Reserve interest rates are headed, the focus is now on just how vulnerable the region may be to such an increase, especially with a large pile of repayments also looming.

Rating agency, Moody’s, calculates Ghana has $4.5bn of bonds due between 2020 and 2026, Gabon has $2bn maturing between 2022 and 2025 and Zambia has $3bn between 2022 and 2027.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s first Eurobond payment of $750m, representing roughly one per cent of its annual economic output or Gross Domestic Product, is due in June next year followed by $2bn in 2024.

“For sovereigns which do not have long track records of repaying international bonds, this will represent a significant test,” Moody’s said in an e-mailed statement.

The increase in international debt issuance means “sub-Saharan African borrowers are now more exposed to shifts in global risk sentiment and external financing conditions,” if added, stressing the risk of rising borrowing costs.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is pushing ahead regardless. The country’s 2018 provisional budget has laid out plans to raise some $2.8bn this year.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, also wants to lift the proportion of dollar debt to 40 per cent from its current level of 27 per cent, to replace expensive naira bonds with 10-year interest rates as high as 14 per cent.

“Nigeria is focused on reducing the cost of our debt portfolio and ensuring we have the optimal mix between domestic and international debt,” she told Reuters.

“The proceeds of the dollar issuance – will be used to re-finance domestic debt, which is high-cost and short-term, with lower-cost international debt with a longer tenure.”

Debt levels in the SSA region are still low compared to many other parts of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa’s average public debt level surpassed 50 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2017, according to The Institute of International Finance.

But there has been an explosion since 2005 when rich countries, for a second time in a decade, wrote off billions of dollars to help the continent out of its debt trap.

Part of the recent big run up in debt levels came as commodity exporters such as Nigeria, Zambia or Angola were forced to fill the gaps in coffers left by a 75 per cent slump in oil and some key metal prices between 2014 and 2015.

Combined with the related hit to growth rates, this triggered an outsized fall in sovereign credit ratings in the region which only now looks to be levelling off.

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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Banking Sector

CBN Rate Hikes Raise Borrowing Costs for Banks Seeking FX

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has implemented a significant adjustment to its borrowing rates.

The move, which follows the CBN’s recent decision to adjust the asymmetric corridor around the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), has led to an increase in the cost of borrowing for banks seeking foreign exchange (FX).

This decision comes amid heightened concerns over the Naira’s performance and inflation rates.

According to Bismarck Rewane, Managing Director/CEO of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, the adjustment means that banks now face borrowing costs of nearly 32% from the CBN, a sharp increase from the previous rate of approximately 26%.

This change in borrowing costs is intended to deter banks from relying on the CBN for FX purchases, thereby reducing pressure on the Naira.

Data reveals that in the first five days of July 2024, banks borrowed an unprecedented N5.38 trillion from the CBN, marking a record high.

The increased borrowing costs are expected to reduce this practice, thereby alleviating some of the strain on the Naira.

Despite these efforts, the Naira has continued to struggle. On Tuesday, the Naira depreciated by 3.13% against the US dollar, with the exchange rate falling to N1,548.76.

This decline is attributed to reduced dollar supply and ongoing uncertainty surrounding Nigeria’s foreign reserves.

The black market saw an even sharper drop, with the Naira falling to 1,687 per dollar, reflecting broader concerns about currency stability.

Rewane highlighted that the recent rate hikes are part of a broader strategy by the CBN to manage inflation and stabilize the Naira.

“The increase in borrowing costs is a necessary step to address the carry trade practices where banks use cheap funds from the CBN to buy FX and sell it at higher rates,” he explained.

The CBN’s decision to raise borrowing costs comes amid a backdrop of persistent inflation and rising interest rates.

Over the past three years, the CBN has raised interest rates 12 times, with recent adjustments aimed at managing liquidity and curbing inflation.

As of June 2024, Nigeria’s headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached 34.19%, up from 33.95% in May.

The central bank’s policy changes are expected to have mixed effects.

Analysts at FBNQuest anticipate that banks will continue to benefit from the high-interest rate environment, potentially leading to a shift of assets from equities to fixed-income securities as investors seek higher yields.

The CBN remains committed to navigating Nigeria through these challenging economic conditions.

By adjusting borrowing costs and implementing tighter monetary policies, the central bank aims to strike a balance between managing inflation, stabilizing the Naira, and supporting overall economic growth.

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Finance

Senate Passes Bill for 70% Windfall Levy on Banks’ Forex Gains

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The Nigerian Senate has approved an amendment to the Finance Act of 2023, increasing the windfall levy on banks’ foreign exchange gains from 50% to 70%.

The bill was passed during a plenary session on Tuesday after a thorough review by the Finance Committee.

The Senate’s decision aims to address the significant profits banks have accrued due to recent foreign exchange policy shifts.

This windfall is viewed as a product of government intervention rather than the banks’ strategic efforts, prompting the call for redistribution.

The additional revenue from this levy is expected to contribute to financing the N6.2 trillion Appropriation Amendment Bill.

This funding will support various government projects and initiatives, ensuring that the windfall benefits are reinvested into the economy.

The Senate also approved amendments to the payment timeline, setting the levy to take effect from the start of the new foreign exchange regime through 2025, avoiding retrospective application from January 2024.

Also, the Upper Chamber removed the proposed jail term for principal officers of defaulting banks.

Instead, banks that fail to remit the levy will incur a penalty of 10% per annum on the withheld amount, alongside interest at the prevailing Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Minimum Rediscount Rate.

This legislative move aligns with President Tinubu’s broader fiscal strategy, which aims to optimize national revenue through independent sources.

The amendment underscores the Senate’s commitment to leveraging bank profits for national development, especially amid economic challenges.

While some industry stakeholders express concerns about the impact on banking operations, others see this as a necessary step towards equitable wealth distribution and economic stability.

The bill’s passage is anticipated to have significant implications for both the financial sector and the broader economy.

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Banking Sector

Zenith Bank Retains Position As Nigeria’s Number One Bank By Tier-1 Capital For Fifteen Consecutive Years In The 2024 Top 1000 World Banks’ Ranking

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For the fifteenth consecutive year, Zenith Bank Plc has retained its position as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the 2024 Top 1000 World Banks’ Rankings, published by The Banker Magazine.

This ranking places Zenith Bank Plc as the 565th Bank globally with a Tier-1 Capital of $2.01 billion. The rankings, published in the July 2024 edition of The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, recognise Zenith Bank’s continued financial strength and stability.

They are based on the 2023 year-end Tier-1 capital of banks globally and remain the primary source for global bank financials used by most international organisations in their assessments of banks.

Tier-1 Capital describes capital adequacy, the core measure of a bank’s financial strength from a regulator’s perspective.

According to the ranking, Tier-1 Capital, as defined by the latest Bank for International Settlements (BIS) guidelines, includes loss-absorbing capital, i.e., common stock, disclosed reserves, retained earnings, and minority interests in the equity of subsidiaries that are less than wholly owned.

A strong Tier-1 capital ratio boosts investor and depositor confidence, indicating the Bank is well-capitalised and financially stable.

Commenting on this achievement, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji, OON, said, “We are deeply honoured to be recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the fifteenth consecutive year. This recognition is a testament to our strategic focus on sustainable growth, innovation, and customer satisfaction. It also emphasises our resilience and strength in navigating the ever-evolving financial landscape. Our dedicated team of professionals has remained steadfast in ensuring that we maintain our position at the forefront of the banking industry.”

She extended her profound and sincere appreciation to the Founder and Chairman, Dr. Jim Ovia, CFR, whose visionary and transformative leadership has played a pivotal role in cultivating a resilient and thriving establishment.

She also expressed her deep appreciation for the board’s insightful governance, the staff’s relentless dedication, and the unwavering loyalty of the bank’s esteemed customers to the Zenith brand.

Zenith Bank’s financial performance for the year was driven by a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings, from N945.6 billion reported in 2022 to N2.132 trillion in 2023. This growth led to an improved market share in both the retail and corporate segments despite a persistently challenging macroeconomic environment.

The increase in gross earnings was primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income growth was attributed to the increase in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, while non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

Zenith Bank recently commenced recapitalisation efforts with the conclusion of its Capital Markets Day held on 11th July 2024. It aims to raise the least amount of capital amongst its peers at N230 billion, considering it already maintains a robust capital base of N270.7 billion.

The Bank remains dedicated to supporting the growth of the Nigerian economy and providing its numerous customers with innovative and efficient banking solutions.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, with these latest accolades coming on the heels of several recognitions. These include being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the fourteenth consecutive year in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking, published by The Banker Magazine.

The Bank was also awarded the Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards for 2020 and 2022; and Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria in the International Banker 2024 Banking Awards.
Further recognitions include Best Bank in Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022 in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards and Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023 in the World Finance Banking Awards.

Additionally, Zenith Bank has been acknowledged as the Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria, in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards for 2022 and 2023, and ‘Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa for four consecutive years from 2020 to 2023 by the Ethical Boardroom.

The Bank’s commitment to excellence saw it being named the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands for 2020 and 2021, and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022 at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

The Bank also received the accolades of Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria, in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards, Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation in Retail Banking, Nigeria, in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards. Zenith Bank was named Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.

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