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Airtel Africa Posts Strong Growth Across its Units, Revenue Jumps 27.6 Percent

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Airtel Africa - Investors King

Airtel Africa grew revenue by 25.2 percent in the first half (H1, 2022) that ended September 30, 2021 to $2,272 million with double-digit growth across all regions. In the second quarter (Q2) of the same period, revenue grew by 20.3 percent.

The telecommunications giant stated in its unaudited financial statement released on Wednesday, October 28, 2021. See the company’s financial highlights below.

Airtel Africa Plc Financial Highlights

• H1’22 reported revenue grew by 25.2% to $2,272m with double digit growth across all regions. Q2 reported revenue growth of 20.3%.
• Revenue in constant currency grew by 27.6%.
• Strong double-digit constant currency revenue growth across all regions: Nigeria up 32.4%, East Africa up 25.8% and Francophone Africa up 22.1%; and across all key services, Voice up 19.7%, Data up 36.9% and Mobile Money up 42.0%.
• Underlying EBITDA grew by 35.2% to $1,098m in reported currency and underlying EBITDA margin improved to 48.3%, an increase of 360 basis points led by both revenue growth and improved operational efficiencies.
• Operating profit up 55.1% to $732m in reported currency.
• Profit after tax more than doubled to $335m, largely due to higher profit before tax which more than offset the associated increase in tax charges.
• Basic EPS was 7.6 cents, an increase of 155.9%, as a result of higher profit. EPS before exceptional items increased to 7.5 cents from 3.0 cents in previous period.
• Operating free cash flow was $853m, up 43.1%, and over the last 18 months we have up streamed more than $570m across our operating entities.
• Leverage ratio reduced to 1.5x from 2.2x.
• Customer base grew by 5.4% to 122.7 million, with increased penetration across mobile data (customer base up 10.9%) and mobile money services (customer base up 19.0%). Customer base growth was affected by the new NIN/SIM registration regulations in Nigeria; excluding Nigeria the customer base grew by 13.7%.
• The board has declared an interim dividend of 2 cents per share (1.5 cents in H1’21) in line with an upgraded dividend policy.

The new policy aims to grow the dividend annually by a mid to high-single digit percentage from a new base of 5 cents per share for FY 2022, with a continued focus to further strengthen the balance sheet.

Commenting on the performance of the telecom, Segun Ogunsanya, chief executive officer, said “Our first half financial performance has been strong. The first half of last year, and especially Q1, was impacted by the start of Covid, but even after adjusting for these effects, our revenue growth rates for the half year for the Group and all our service segments are ahead of our FY’21 revenue growth trends, and in reported terms these are all in strong double digits.

“The risks from Covid still remain, with sub-Saharan Africa continuing to experience a third wave of the pandemic. Governments continue to implement balanced measures of lockdowns and restrictions accordingly. But vaccination levels remain low, and we continue to monitor the situation for potential impacts on economies and consumers.

“Operationally we have continued our network modernisation and expansion, aligned with an extension of our distribution capabilities, which have together contributed towards continued strong growth in ARPUs across voice, data and mobile money. We have seen an improvement in our customer growth trends for the Group as we approach stability of net monthly movements in Nigeria.

“Alongside our results we have today launched our sustainability strategy. Airtel Africa has always been a business with a sustainable premise at the heart of our purpose to transform lives across Africa through our promotion of both digital and financial inclusion. Our sustainability strategy builds upon this, extending and more comprehensively articulating our sustainability goals and credentials. I am excited by the new initiatives we have launched and I look forward to reporting back on our developments in this area with our first sustainability report next year.

“As incoming Group CEO, I have inherited the responsibility to build upon a business with solid foundations and as I look ahead, I continue to see huge potential across voice, data and mobile money from low penetration levels across Africa. The continent continues to be a growth story for us despite the pandemic. We will continue to invest in mobile and digital technologies to drive digital and financial inclusion sustainably in Africa. I am pleased with the progress we have made in the last couple of years on delivering value to everyone touched by our network.”

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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Finance

Financial Institutions Lost $12 Billion to Cyberattacks in 20 Years – Says IMF

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cybercrime - Investors King

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has disclosed that financial institutions worldwide have lost to$12 billion due to cyberattacks over the past 20 years.

This revelation comes from the IMF’s recent report, Global Financial Stability Report, April 2024, which highlights the significant vulnerabilities faced by the financial sector in the realm of cybersecurity.

The report indicates that since 2020, financial institutions have incurred losses of $2.5 billion due to cyber incidents.

The IMF further underscores the high susceptibility of the financial sector to cyber risks, noting that approximately one-fifth of cyber incidents over the past two decades have impacted financial institutions, primarily targeting banks, insurers, and asset managers.

The United States, home to several major financial institutions, faces heightened exposure to cyber risks. For example, JP Morgan Chase, the largest US bank, experiences a staggering 45 billion cyber events daily and invests $15 billion annually in cybersecurity efforts, employing 62,000 technologists, many focused on security.

Cyber incidents are considered major operational risks that threaten the resilience of financial institutions and can have broader macroeconomic repercussions.

The IMF warned that these incidents could jeopardize financial stability through loss of confidence, disruptions in essential services, and the interconnectedness of the financial system.

To counter these risks, the IMF urges central banks and relevant authorities to develop comprehensive national cybersecurity strategies and establish effective regulations and supervisory measures.

As cyber threats continue to evolve, the need for robust cybersecurity infrastructure is paramount for the protection and stability of the global financial system.

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Banking Sector

Zenith Bank Leads as Restricted Deposits Hit N17.1 Trillion

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

Zenith Bank Plc has emerged as a frontrunner among Nigerian banks as restricted deposits grew to N17.1 trillion.

This increase was propelled by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulations and represents 72.7% growth from the N9.91 trillion recorded in the previous year.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, in its effort to regulate the country’s money supply and manage inflation levels, has maintained the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 32.5%.

The CRR mandates banks to retain a certain percentage of their customer deposits with the CBN, thereby restricting access to these funds for day-to-day operations.

Zenith Bank, along with nine other major banks including Access Holdings Plc, Guaranty Trust Holdings Company Plc (GTCO), and United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, witnessed a substantial increase in their restricted deposits.

This surge underscores the impact of regulatory measures on the banking sector’s liquidity and operational dynamics.

The CBN’s decision to uphold the CRR at 32.5% and subsequently increase it to 45.0% reflects its commitment to curbing inflationary pressures and maintaining financial stability. While these measures aim to regulate money supply and inflation, they also pose challenges for banks and shareholders.

A member of the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), Aku Odinkemelu, emphasized the necessity of tightening monetary policy measures to address inflationary pressures effectively.

However, concerns linger regarding the adverse effects on borrowing costs for businesses and the banking sector’s profitability.

Philip Ikeazor, Director-General of Financial System Stability and MPC member, highlighted the pivotal role of complementary tools such as the CRR in taming inflation and managing liquidity.

Despite apprehensions from stakeholders, the CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, reiterated the importance of assertive monetary policy measures to achieve the medium-term inflation target.

Zenith Bank’s noteworthy performance in managing restricted deposits underscores its resilience and strategic approach amidst regulatory challenges.

The bank’s 133.8% increase in mandatory reserve deposits with the CBN, reaching N3.9 trillion in 2023, demonstrates its ability to adapt to evolving market conditions.

Access Holdings, UBA, and other major banks also reported substantial growth in their restricted deposits, reflecting the broader impact of CBN policies on the banking sector’s liquidity and profitability.

Despite the surge in restricted deposits, concerns persist among shareholders regarding the profitability and operational constraints faced by banks.

Boniface Okezie, Chairman of the Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), advocated for CBN to consider paying interest on mandatory funds collected from banks, thereby enhancing their earnings and supporting the real sector of the economy.

As Nigerian banks navigate the intricacies of regulatory requirements and market dynamics, Zenith Bank’s leadership in managing restricted deposits underscores its resilience and strategic acumen in an evolving financial landscape.

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Banking Sector

Zenith Bank Achieves Historic Milestones in 2023 With Stellar Triple-Digit Topline And Bottom-Line Growth

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Zenith Bank - Investors King

Zenith Bank Plc has announced its audited results for the year ended December 31, 2023, achieving a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings from NGN945.6 billion reported in 2022 to NGN2.132 trillion in 2023.

According to the audited financial results for the 2023 financial year presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), this impressive triple-digit growth in gross earnings resulted in a Year-on-Year (YoY) increase of 180% in Profit Before Tax (PBT) from NGN284.7 billion in 2022 to NGN796 billion in 2023.

Profit After Tax (PAT) also recorded triple-digit growth of 202% from NGN223.9 billion to NGN676.9 billion in the period ended December 31, 2023.

The increase in gross earnings is primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income increased by 112% from NGN540 billion in 2022 to NGN1.1 trillion in 2023. Non-interest income grew by 141% from NGN381 billion to NGN918.9 billion in the same period.

The increase in interest income is attributed to the growth in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, alongside the rise in the yield of other interest-bearing instruments over the year. Growth in non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and an increase in gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

The cost of funds grew from 1.9% in 2022 to 3.0% in 2023 due to the high interest rate environment while interest expense increased by 135% from NGN173.5 billion in 2022 to NGN408.5 billion in 2023. Notwithstanding the 32% growth in operating expenses in 2023, the Group’s cost-to-income ratio improved significantly from 54.4% in 2022 to 36.1% in 2023 due to improved top-line performance.

Return on Average Equity (ROAE) increased by 118% from 16.8% in 2022 to 36.6% in 2023, underpinned by improved gross earnings, as the Group sought to deliver better shareholder returns. Return on Average Assets (ROAA) also grew by 95% from 2.1% to 4.1% in the same period.

The Group has continued to deepen its market leadership in key corporate and retail deposit segments as customer deposits increased by 69% from NGN9.0 trillion to NGN15.2 trillion in 2023.

Its retail drive continues to yield dividends as retail deposits now constitute 46% of total deposits (compared to 44% in 2022) and grew by 77% from NGN3.97 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.04 trillion in 2023, also reinforcing increased customer confidence in the Zenith brand.

Total assets increased by 66% from NGN12.3 trillion in 2022 to NGN20.4 trillion in 2023, largely due to growth in total deposits and the revaluation of foreign currency deposits.

Gross loans grew by 71% from NGN4.1 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.1 trillion in 2023 due to the revaluation of foreign currency loans and the growth in local currency risk assets.

As a result of the disciplined and diligent approach to risk assets creation and management, the loan growth did not significantly impact the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratio, which increased marginally from 4.3% to 4.4% despite the heightened risk environment and challenging operating environment, an attestation to the Group’s resilience despite headwinds and a challenging macroeconomic environment.

Also, the prudential ratios remain within regulatory thresholds, with the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) and liquidity ratio at 21.7% and 71.0%, respectively, at the close of 2023.

As a demonstration of its commitment to shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend payout of NGN3.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to NGN4.00 per share.

In 2024, the Group will complete the transition to a holding company structure, which is anticipated to position it advantageously for exploring emerging opportunities in the Fintech space while bolstering its digital and retail banking initiatives.

Furthermore, the Group is undertaking urgent necessary actions to meet the new minimum NGN500 billion equity capital requirement to maintain its international authorisation within the timeframe stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

This will strengthen its presence in key markets to continue positioning for sustainable growth and value addition for stakeholders.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, including being recognised as Best Bank in Nigeria, for the fourth time in five years, from 2020 to 2022 and in 2024, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; the Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria in the Euromoney Awards 2023, being listed in the World Finance Top 100 Global Companies in 2023; being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 14th consecutive year, in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023, in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022 and 2023; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for four successive years from 2020 to 2023, by the Ethical Boardroom; 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.

Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021; Bank of the Year 2023 and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. Similarly, 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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