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IMF Doubts Nigeria’s Capacity to Repay Debts

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  • IMF Doubts Nigeria’s Capacity to Repay Debts

The International Monetary Fund on Monday expressed concern over Nigeria’s capacity to repay its debts and stressed the need for the Federal Government to mobilise more revenues domestically.

The Washington-based fund, at the public presentation of the Spring 2018 Issue of the Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, said the public debt in the region was on the rise.

IMF Senior Resident Representative and Mission Chief for Nigeria, Amine Mati, said, “The number of countries in debt distress has increased. From six countries in 2014 to eight in 2015, to 10 in 2016, and today 15 countries. These are low-income economies.

“Now, I know the question that is going to come from here is: Where is Nigeria? Nigeria is not considered a low-income economy. Nigeria’s debt stock figure, which is 20 to 23 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, is still quite low by any standard. The issue is capacity to repay the debts. So, interest payment to revenue is an issue.”

On the need to ramp up domestic revenue mobilisation, Mati put Nigeria’s total revenue at six per cent of GDP.

“There is a lot that can be done to increase revenue very quickly,” he said.

Noting that Value Added Tax rate had been quite low in Nigeria, he said doubling the compliance on VAT from 25 to 50 per cent would increase the VAT ratio from 0.9 per cent of GDP to close to two per cent.

Nigeria’s debt stood at N21.73tn as of December 31, 2017, compared to N12.12tn as of June 30, 2015, according to the Debt Management Office.

The DMO had said the composition of the debt stock as of the end of 2017 showed that external debt was 26.64 per cent of the portfolio, up from 20.04 per cent in 2016, while the domestic debt was 73.36 per cent, down from 79.96 per cent in 2016.

The Director-General, DMO, Patience Oniha, in her remarks at the event, said the government had been working aggressively to shore up revenues as well as reduce borrowing costs.

“The debt service is a function of the interest that you pay on those borrowings as well as your revenue. The critical part is that revenue has been low relative to the size of the GDP. So that has to go up,” she said in an interview on the sidelines of the event.

According to her, there is an aggressive drive to raise revenues through the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration scheme.

Oniha said, “What are we doing on debt service? The new debt management strategy, which we started implementing last year, seeks to moderate the growth of interest expense by shifting some of the borrowing externally.

“If we were borrowing on the domestic market, last year we would be borrowing at about 16 to 17 per cent and early on the year, 18 per cent. But we went to the international market. So rather than borrow that $4.8bn that we borrowed in the international market in the domestic market, we borrowed at below eight per cent. If we raised the money in the domestic market, we would have had to pay those high rates.”

The DMO DG said the government saved over N70bn from, estimated on a per annum basis, from that exercise.

“We are still borrowing because there are provisions for borrowing in the budget. But in terms of how much it cost us to borrow, we are working actively on reducing that and reducing the refinancing risk that we had with Treasury bills every 90 days, every six months.”

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

Fidelity Bank Launches N127.1bn Public Offer and Rights Issue on June 20

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Fidelity Bank Plc, Nigeria’s sixth-largest bank, is set to open its public offer and rights issue to investors on Thursday, June 20, 2024.

In preparation for this significant financial event, Fidelity Bank will host a “Facts Behind the Offer” presentation at the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) on the same day.

This presentation is expected to provide detailed insights into the bank’s strategy and the opportunities presented by the public offer and rights issue.

Under the rights issue, Fidelity Bank will offer 3.2 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N9.25 per share. These shares will be available to existing shareholders in the proportion of 1 new ordinary share for every 10 ordinary shares held as of January 5, 2024.

In addition to the rights issue, the bank will also offer 10 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each to the general investing public at N9.75 per share. This dual approach is part of the bank’s comprehensive strategy to raise a total of up to N127.1 billion.

The acceptance and application period for the rights issue and public offer will commence on Thursday, June 20, and close on Monday, July 29, 2024.

This timeline provides investors ample opportunity to participate in the bank’s capital expansion.

Fidelity Bank has engaged Stanbic IBTC Capital as the lead issuing house for the combined offer. The joint issuing houses include Iron Global Markets Limited, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Afrinvest Capital Limited, FSL Securities Limited, Futureview Financial Services Limited, Iroko Capital Market Advisory Limited, Kairos Capital Limited, and Planet Capital Limited.

These firms will play a crucial role in managing the offer and ensuring its success.

The bank’s initiative to raise N127.1 billion is seen as a strategic move to bolster its capital base and ensure compliance with the CBN’s revised capital requirements, which were introduced on March 28, 2024.

This capital raise is expected to enhance the bank’s capacity to support its growing customer base and expand its operations across Nigeria and beyond.

In recent years, Fidelity Bank has demonstrated robust financial performance and growth, positioning itself as a key player in Nigeria’s banking sector.

The successful completion of this public offer and rights issue will further solidify its standing and enable it to pursue new opportunities in the competitive financial landscape.

Investors and stakeholders are keenly anticipating the outcome of this capital-raising exercise, which is poised to mark a significant milestone in Fidelity Bank’s journey toward sustained growth and stability.

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Banking Sector

Fidelity Bank Plc Promotes 11% of Staff Following Record Financial Performance

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Leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank Plc has announced the promotion of 11% of its workforce, a testament to the exceptional performance and dedication of its employees.

This significant move follows the release of the bank’s 2023 full year Audited Financial Statements, which reported an impressive 131.5 percent growth in Profit Before Tax (PBT) to N124.26 billion.

The recent promotions span every level within the bank, reflecting Fidelity Bank Plc’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding excellence across its entire organization.

This strategic initiative has garnered positive reactions from staff members, who see it as a validation of their hard work and contribution to the bank’s remarkable financial achievements.

In addition to the promotions, Fidelity Bank Plc has also concluded arrangements to raise a total of N127.1 billion through a Rights Issue to existing shareholders and a Public Offer. This move is part of the bank’s broader strategy to strengthen its capital base, support future growth, and enhance shareholder value.

Fidelity Bank Plc’s impressive financial performance and the subsequent employee promotions highlight the bank’s robust operational strategy and its commitment to fostering a rewarding work environment. By investing in its people and ensuring their career growth, the bank continues to build a motivated and high-performing workforce.

Ranked as one of the best banks in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank Plc is a full-fledged customer commercial bank with over 8.5 million customers serviced across its 251 business offices in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as well as on digital banking channels.

The bank has won multiple local and international awards including the Export Finance Bank of the Year at the 2023 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards, the Best Payment Solution Provider Nigeria 2023 and Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking and Finance Awards; Best Bank for SMEs in Nigeria by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023; and Best Domestic Private Bank in Nigeria by the Euromoney Global Private Banking Awards 2023.

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Finance

Nigeria to Receive $2.25 Billion from World Bank for Economic Growth

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The World Bank has approved a $2.25 billion funding package aimed at stabilizing the economy and assisting the most vulnerable segments of the population.

The Washington-based lender announced this approval on Thursday.

The fresh infusion of capital is designed to bolster Nigeria’s efforts to stabilize its economy, which has been plagued by years of foreign-exchange shortages and economic instability.

The funding will also focus on enhancing non-oil revenue streams and safeguarding oil revenues to ensure fiscal sustainability.

This, in turn, will help deliver quality public services and support the poor and economically at-risk communities.

Ousmane Diagana, the World Bank’s Vice President for Western and Central Africa, emphasized the importance of this financing package.

“Nigeria’s concerted efforts to implement far-reaching macro-fiscal reforms place it on a new path which can stabilize its economy and lift its people out of poverty,” Diagana said.

“This financing package reinforces the World Bank’s strong partnership with Nigeria, and our support towards reinvigorating its economy and fast-tracking poverty reduction, which can serve as a beacon for Africa.”

Since assuming office in May 2023, President Bola Tinubu has initiated a series of reforms aimed at addressing the chronic foreign-exchange shortages and stimulating economic growth.

Key measures include allowing the naira to trade more freely, significantly increasing interest rates, and phasing out a costly fuel subsidy by adjusting gasoline prices.

Also, the Central Bank has taken steps to clear a $7 billion backlog of unmet foreign-exchange obligations to industries and foreign investors.

These reforms are part of a broader strategy to attract foreign investment and diversify the economy, which has traditionally relied heavily on oil production.

Despite Nigeria’s status as Africa’s largest oil producer, low crude production levels and a lack of economic diversification have contributed to ongoing fiscal challenges and foreign-exchange shortages.

The World Bank’s funding is expected to provide much-needed support for these reform efforts, helping to stabilize the economy and improve the overall economic outlook.

The injection of $2.25 billion will not only address immediate fiscal needs but also lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

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