Nigeria’s Debt Capital Markets: Robust Corporate Debt Issuance Will be Sustained Over 2023 and Beyond
Corporate Debt Capital Issuance Recovered Over 2022
Following the sharp decline in corporate debt capital issuance over 2021 of 38%, a record NGN1.5 Trillion (USD 3.2 Billion) of debt was issued in Nigeria in 2022, representing a 133% increase year-on-year. Using FMDQ data, there is currently approximately NGN 2.1 Trillion (USD 4.6 Billion) of publicly issued nonfederal local currency debt capital outstanding; the majority being corporate bonds at 71% of total (NGN 1.5 Trillion, USD 3.3 Billion).
As of year-end 2022, GCR rated approximately 80% of outstanding publicly issued non-federal local currency debt in Nigeria. Debt capital issuance, specifically CP issuance, in Nigeria decreased significantly over 2021. As shown in figure 2, below, Nigerian corporates issued just NGN379 Billion (USD 824 Million) of CP over 2021 compared to a record NGN762 Billion (USD 1.66 Billion) of CP in 2020. The reduction in CP issuance reflected rising yields, and thus rising cost of funding, over 2021 from a very low base.
Treasury bill yields continued to rise in 2022; increasing from 2.48% (91 day), 3.3% (182 Day) and 5.4% (364 Day) in January 2022 to a peak of 6.5% (91 day), 8.05% (182 Day) and 14.5% (364 Day) in October 2022. However, unlike 2021, the rising interest rate environment in 2022 did not curtail debt capital issuance.
2022 saw a deepening of challenges for Nigerian corporates on account of weak economic growth, a high headline inflation rate, spiralling fuel costs and supply-chain disruptions. As a result of this challenging environment, Nigerian corporates increasingly sought short-term funds through CP issuances in order to meet their working capital requirements i.e., to fund their day-to-day operations.
Working capital funding is common for businesses facing near-to-medium term uncertainty and/or businesses with inconsistent cash flow. 2022 saw 140 CP transactions totalling NGN762 Billion (USD 1.66 Billion) versus 61 transactions totalling NGN379 Billion (USD 824 Million) in 2021.
Bond issuance also grew significantly over 2022 at 189%. Nigerian corporates are choosing to issue local currency debt capital over borrowing in foreign currency. The challenging foreign exchange environment in Nigeria manifests itself in foreign currency shortages within the financial system and weakened relationships between Nigerian banks and foreign correspondent banks which ultimately led to unfavourable terms for Nigerian corporates looking to borrow in foreign currency.
We do not expect the unfavourable terms of foreign currency borrowing to change in the near-term. Growth in bond issuance was predominantly down to big ticket transactions to fund large capital expenditure projects, or acquisitions, such as:
• Dangote Industries Limited’s (AA+(NG), Stable) NGN300 Billion (USD 652 Million) bond to fund the construction of the Dangote refinery,
• Dangote Cement Plc’s (AA+(NG), Stable) NGN116 Billion (USD 252 Million) bond to fund expansion projects within the Nigerian market,
• MTN Nigeria Communications Plc’s (AAA(NG), Stable) NGN115 Billion (USD 250 Million) bond to fund the expansion of its 5G network,
• Geregu Power Plc’s (A(NG), Stable) NGN40.1 Billion (USD 87 Million) bond to fund the acquisition of a power plant,
• Presco Plc’s (A-(NG), Stable) NGN34.5 Billion (USD 75 Million) bond to fund the acquisition of a palm oil business and
• LFZC Funding SPV Plc’s (Lagos Free Zone Company) (AAA(NG), Stable) NGN25 Billion (USD 54 Million) Guaranteed Bond to fund the construction of various assets within the free zone.
The aforementioned Presco transaction is the first local bond from an entity operating in Nigeria’s palm oil industry.
Recent Crash in Money Market Yields Will Drive Corporate Debt Issuance in the Near-term
As shown in figure 5, over 2022, the CBN increased its Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 5 percentage points in order to curb rampant inflation. The CBN’s hawkish stance ultimately led to rising yields in money markets with 364 day rates rising from a 2022 low of 4.35% in February to a peak of 14.5% in October.
However, in recent months we have witnessed a dislocation in money market and MPR rates. Despite a 150 basis point increase in MPR this year, money market yields fell significantly; approaching levels close to fourth quarter 2020.
The dislocation is on account of the significant influx of liquidity into the financial system in recent months. Nigeria witnessed the highest Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) pay-out of 2022 in December of NGN990 Billion (USD 2.2 Billion). Secondly, the CBN’s currency redesign meant that a significant quantum of cash has been redeposited at banks since its commencement, in fact, on 29 January 2023, the CBN reported that NGN1.9 Trillion (USD 4.1 Billion) of cash was redeposited in the prior two months.
We expect the aforementioned factors to moderate over the medium term and for money market yields, and thus corporate yields, to normalise as FAAC placements are expended and naira notes redistributed. Notwithstanding, according to FMDQ Securities Exchange, the average valuation yields for listed bonds as of 28 February 2023 was 12.5% versus the average prime lending rate of banks of 13.67%, as of February 2023 (the prime lending rate at some Nigerian banks was as high as 28.5%). GCR believes Nigerian corporates will continue to look to debt capital markets as a cheaper source of funding to bank borrowing.
Robust Corporate Debt Issuance to be Sustained Over 2023 and Beyond
Over the next 12 to 18 months, we expect robust debt issuance to be sustained as the political direction of new leadership becomes more certain; allowing Nigerian corporates to make better informed funding decisions. In the nearer term, issuance will be supported by the aforementioned fall in yields. At present, we are witnessing a strong pipeline of new transactions over the next 12 months; partly in new asset classes such asset back securities.
Additionally, the advent of Basel III regulations will mean that Nigerian banks will have an increased need to issue Additional Tier 1 and Tier 2 debt capital. Furthermore, Basel III’s liquidity coverage requirements mean that banks will have a greater need for High Quality Liquid Assets (HQLA) in the form of corporate bonds.
Overall, Basel III will be supportive of deepening Nigeria’s capital markets.
Lastly, issuing debt instruments continues to be an increasingly viable funding source for Nigerian entities. Companies will continue to diversify their funding base through the issuance of CP and/or bonds for the foreseeable future.
Nigeria’s Institutional Investors will Continue to Invest Heavily in Local Currency Corporate Debt
Domestic institutional investors, such as pension funds administrators and asset/fund managers remain willing and able subscribers of Nigeria’s corporate debt capital. Corporate debt instruments continue to offer institutional investors reasonable return premiums above sovereign benchmarks.
Primary market bond transactions in recent years have been mostly oversubscribed. According to the National Pension Commission (Pencom), as of December-end 2022, Nigeria’s pension funds had NGN15 Trillion (USD 33 Billion) of Assets Under Management (AUM), this is an increase of 12% from December-end 2021’s total of NGN13.4 Trillion (USD 29 Billion).
In particular, corporate bonds under management grew from NGN920 Billion (USD 2 Billion) to NGN1.4 Trillion (USD 3 Billion), an increase of 52%. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as of March 2023, the net asset value (NAV) of Nigerian mutual funds had risen to NGN1.574 trillion (USD 3.4 Billion), representing an increase of 11% from March 2022 levels.
GCR estimates Nigeria’s total pension and mutual fund assets under management as a percentage of Nigerian GDP to be less than 10% versus 67% for OECD countries as of year-end 2021. Given the small size of both pension and mutual fund AUM as a percentage of GDP, there is significant capacity for AUM growth. GCR expects institutional investors to meet the funding needs of local debt issuers for the foreseeable future.
Commercial Paper Quotations Surge on FMDQ Exchange, Reaching N669.36bn in Q1 2023
The FMDQ Exchange, Nigeria’s foremost debt capital market, has reported a remarkable increase in the value of quoted commercial papers (CPs) during the first quarter of 2023.
The total outstanding value of CPs rose to an impressive N669.36bn at the end of the same period, indicating a significant boost to the country’s financial market.
The monthly reports from the FMDQ Exchange reveal a sustained upward trend in the quotations of commercial papers since the beginning of the year. These quoted CPs were issued by institutions across diverse sectors, including real estate, financial services, manufacturing, agriculture, and health.
In February 2023, the total value of CPs quoted on the FMDQ Exchange stood at N101.84bn, representing a month-on-month increase of 22.40% (N18.64bn) compared to January 2023. The sectors contributing to these quoted CPs included financial services, real estate, manufacturing, construction, and more.
The upward trajectory continued in March 2023, with the total value of CPs quoted on the FMDQ Exchange reaching a staggering N354.18bn. This figure reflected a substantial month-on-month increase of 247.80% (N252.34bn) from the previous month. Manufacturing, agriculture, financial services, real estate, telecommunications, commodities trading, and general commerce were the sectors responsible for issuing quoted CPs.
The surge in commercial paper quotations resulted in a remarkable 82.76% month-on-month increase (N303.11bn) in the total outstanding value of CPs, reaching N669.36bn. It is worth noting that CPs worth N113.10bn matured and were redeemed in January 2023.
Comparing the data with previous months, the figures for the first three months of 2023 far exceeded the preceding seven months, which saw quoted CPs below N80bn.
Commenting on this trend, Johnson Chukwu, the Chief Executive Officer at Cowry Asset Management Limited, emphasized that the high interest rates and the ease of issuing commercial papers were driving companies to seek funding in the money market. Chukwu explained that during periods of high-interest rates, borrowers prefer short-term debts to avoid being locked into long-term obligations.
Furthermore, Chukwu highlighted that commercial papers offer companies a cost-effective alternative to borrowing from banks. By accessing the commercial paper market directly, borrowers can tap into lower borrowing costs compared to the fees associated with bank loans.
Okiki Oladipo, an analyst at Parthian Partners, pointed out that the current low yield in the money market is attracting businesses to engage in this segment. However, there are expectations of a rise in yields, which could impact the sustainability of this funding strategy. Oladipo emphasized that a borrower’s financial health and the trajectory of market yields play pivotal roles in determining the long-term viability of the strategy.
The surge in commercial paper quotations on the FMDQ Exchange underscores the growing significance of this financial instrument in Nigeria’s capital market. As more companies turn to commercial papers for funding, it is expected to stimulate economic growth and provide additional opportunities for investors in the country.
FMDQ Exchange Lists N300bn Dangote Industries Funding Plc Senior Unsecured Bonds
FMDQ Securities Exchange Limited (FMDQ Exchange) announced yesterday that it has approved the listing of Dangote Industries Funding Plc’s N187.58 billion Series 1 (Tranche A & B) and N112.42 billion Series 2 Senior Unsecured Bonds under its N300 billion Debt Issuance Programme on its platform.
The Series 1 and 2 bonds were listed on FMDQ Exchange in November 2022 and March 2023, respectively.
To commemorate the occasion, FMDQ Exchange held a listing ceremony at its offices. Managing Director, Ms. Tumi Sekoni, represented by Ms. Jumoke Olaniyan, Senior Vice President, Business Development Division, FMDQ Exchange, congratulated the issuer and sponsors on achieving this milestone, noting that their decision to raise funds from the debt markets via the Exchange’s platform was a testament to the highly efficient time-to-market and unrivalled listing and quotation service offered by FMDQ Exchange.
In a special address, Mr. Olakunle Alake thanked the investor community, Securities and Exchange Commission, FMDQ Exchange, and their team of professional advisers led by Standard Chartered Capital and Advisory Nigeria Limited and Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited for ensuring successful outings on both their debut and subsequent bond issuances.
Delivering the sponsor’s remarks, Mrs. Yemisi Deji-Bejide, CEO of Standard Chartered Capital and Advisory Nigeria Limited, stated that “the phenomenal success of this transaction reflects the strong credit quality of the issuer as well as the depth and resilience of the Nigerian domestic markets, despite the global market volatility.”
FMDQ Exchange’s commitment to innovation and efficient services will continue to support issuers and investors towards achieving an operationally excellent and globally competitive debt market.
MTN Nigeria Borrows N125 Billion from Debt Market Via Commercial Paper
Africa’s leading telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria has successfully borrowed N125 billion from Nigerians via sales of commercial paper, a document has shown.
In the document obtained by Investors King on Tuesday, the commercial paper was issued under MTN Nigeria’s N150 billion Commercial paper issuance Programme. The company had set out to raise N100 billion but recorded an oversubscription of 25%, to raise a total of N125 billion.
Commercial paper is a debt instrument issued by corporations to raise money to finance short-term liabilities
The commercial papers were issued with a maturity of 188 days and a yield of 11.00%, as well as commercial papers with a maturity of 267 days and a yield of 12.50%.
This issuance of commercial papers is in line with MTN Nigeria’s strategy to broaden its funding sources. According to the document, funds generated from this issuance will be used to support the company’s short-term working capital and funding needs.
“MTN Nigeria Communications PLC (MTN Nigeria) hereby notifies Nigerian Exchange Limited and the investing public of the successful completion of its Series 4 & 5 Commercial Paper issuance under its Nl50 billion Commercial Paper Issuance Programme (the CP Issuance).
“MTN Nigeria sought to raise N100 billion, and the transaction was 125% subscribed, with a total of A125 billion raised.
“MTN Nigeria issued 188-day commercial papers at a yield of 11.00% and 267-day commercial papers at a yield of 12.50%. The CP Issuance was completed on 1 March 2023.
“The CP Issuance is part of MTN Nigeria‘s strategy to diversity its funding options. The proceeds will be utilised for its short-term working capital and funding requirements,” the document reads.
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