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CBN Wants 15% Interest on $8.1bn MTN Refunds

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MTN
  • CBN Wants 15% Interest on $8.1bn MTN Refunds

The Central Bank of Nigeria has asked the court not to grant an injunction that will stop the MTN Group from transferring the disputed $8.1bn back to the country, and wants the company to pay 15 per cent annualised interest on the sum until judgment is given, and 10 per cent from then until the whole amount is paid.

The CBN made this argument in documents filed with the Federal High Court in Lagos in the past week and seen by Bloomberg News on Thursday.

The apex bank alleged in late August that MTN and four of its lenders, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, illegally repatriated the money from Nigeria.

MTN sought an injunction in early September to buy itself time and fight the claim in its biggest market, which wiped as much as 36 per cent off its market value.

The transfers “may have been premeditated and contrived as a scam to make and maximise profits, defraud the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to enjoy unlimited foreign exchange income perpetually from a single investment without complying with the foreign exchange laws and regulations of Nigeria,” the central bank said in the documents.

The court filings suggested that the regulator was not prepared to back down over its allegations, despite the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, saying last week that the dispute would be resolved soon and that “everyone will be happy.”

The apex bank had promised that the two sides were in talks that could lead to an “equitable resolution.”

MTN’s shares fell for the first time in five days on Thursday, declining by 2.5 per cent to 87.30 rand. That extended their fall since the central bank made its accusations to 19 per cent. Yields on $750m of bonds due 2024 climbed 13 basis points on Thursday to 6.85 per cent.

MTN is separately facing a claim from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation that it needs to pay about $2bn in back taxes, which the company also disputes.

The Chief Financial Officer, MTN Group, Ralph Mupita, said in an interview that the two issues might cause it to scrap a planned listing of its Nigerian unit in Lagos.

The CBN alleged that MTN used improperly issued certificates to transfer funds out of Nigeria after the telecoms giant converted shareholder loans in its local unit to preference shares in 2007. MTN denies the allegations.

The monetary authority said MTN’s banks had failed to verify that the telecoms group had met all the country’s foreign exchange regulations.

As such, the CBN imposed a total of N5.87bn on the four banks for allegedly remitting dividends with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation on behalf of MTN Nigeria between 2007 and 2015.

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.

Crude Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

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Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

Oil retreated from an earlier rally with investment banks and traders predicting the market can go significantly higher in the months to come.

Futures in New York pared much of an earlier increase to $63 a barrel as the dollar climbed and equities slipped. Bank of America said prices could reach $70 at some point this year, while Socar Trading SA sees global benchmark Brent hitting $80 a barrel before the end of the year as the glut of inventories built up during the Covid-19 pandemic is drained by the summer.

The loss of oil output after the big freeze in the U.S. should help the market firm as much of the world emerges from lockdowns, according to Trafigura Group. Inventory data due later Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute and more from the Energy Department on Wednesday will shed more light on how the Texas freeze disrupted U.S. oil supply last week.

Oil has surged this year after Saudi Arabia pledged to unilaterally cut 1 million barrels a day in February and March, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicting the rally will accelerate as demand outpaces global supply. Russia and Riyadh, however, will next week once again head into an OPEC+ meeting with differing opinions about adding more crude to the market.

“The freeze in the U.S. has proved supportive as production was cut,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro. “We still expect that Russia will push for a significant rise in production,” which could soon weigh on prices, he said.

PRICES

  • West Texas Intermediate for April fell 27 cents to $61.43 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. New York time
  • Brent for April settlement fell 8 cents to $65.16

Brent’s prompt timespread firmed in a bullish backwardation structure to the widest in more than a year. The gap rose above $1 a barrel on Tuesday before easing to 87 cents. That compares with 25 cents at the start of the month.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and oil trader Vitol Group shot down talk of a new oil supercycle, though they said a lack of supply response will keep prices for crude prices firm in the short term.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

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Crude oil

Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

Oil prices rose on Monday as the slow return of U.S. crude output cut by frigid conditions served as a reminder of the tight supply situation, just as demand recovers from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brent crude was up $1.38, or 2.2%, at $64.29 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate gained $1.38, or 2.33%, to trade at $60.62 per barrel.

Abnormally cold weather in Texas and the Plains states forced the shutdown of up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production along with 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas output, analysts estimated.

Shale oil producers in the region could take at least two weeks to restart the more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude output affected, sources said, as frozen pipes and power supply interruptions slow their recovery.

“With three-quarters of fracking crews standing down, the likelihood of a fast resumption is low,” ANZ Research said in a note.

For the first time since November, U.S. drilling companies cut the number of oil rigs operating due to the cold and snow enveloping Texas, New Mexico and other energy-producing centres.

OPEC+ oil producers are set to meet on March 4, with sources saying the group is likely to ease curbs on supply after April given a recovery in prices, although any increase in output will likely be modest given lingering uncertainty over the pandemic.

“Saudi Arabia is eager to pursue yet higher prices in order to cover its social break-even expenses at around $80 a barrel while Russia is strongly focused on unwinding current cuts and getting back to normal production,” said SEB chief commodity analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

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Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

Oil prices rose to $65.47 per barrel on Thursday as crude oil production dropped in the US due to frigid Texas weather.

The unusual weather has left millions in the dark and forced oil producers to shut down production. According to reports, at least the winter blast has claimed 24 lives.

Brent crude oil gained $2 to $65.47 on Thursday morning before pulling back to $64.62 per barrel around 11:00 am Nigerian time.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 2.3 percent to settle at $61.74 per barrel.

“This has just sent us to the next level,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. “Crude oil WTI will probably max out somewhere pretty close to $65.65, refinery utilization rate will probably slide to somewhere around 76%,” Yawger said.

However, the report that Saudi Arabia plans to increase production in the coming months weighed on crude oil as it can be seen in the chart below.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister, warned that it was too early to declare victory against the COVID-19 virus and that oil producers must remain “extremely cautious”.

“We are in a much better place than we were a year ago, but I must warn, once again, against complacency. The uncertainty is very high, and we have to be extremely cautious,” he told an energy industry event.

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