Fitch Ratings, a prominent international rating agency, has foreseen a potential upgrade for Ecobank Nigeria (ENG) in its national ratings.
The projection stems from ENG’s notable improvement in creditworthiness compared to other Nigerian issuers.
Fitch expects to resolve the Rating Watch Negative (RWN) within the next six months, as the impact of exchange-rate volatility, regulatory capital ratios, and loan quality following the devaluation becomes clearer.
According to Fitch’s recent report, several factors could potentially trigger positive rating actions and an upgrade for ENG. The first factor is ENG’s ability to maintain compliance with its minimum Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) requirements after the devaluation.
Also, ENG should have sufficient buffers to accommodate potential increases in credit concentration and loan-quality risks.
Fitch also noted that an upgrade in ENG’s Viability Rating (VR) and Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) would necessitate a sovereign upgrade and an overall improvement in operating conditions, coupled with a strengthened financial profile.
Previously, Fitch Ratings had placed Viability Ratings (VRs) of ‘b-‘ and Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) of ‘B-‘ on Rating Watch Negative (RWN) for Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) and Ecobank Nigeria Limited (ENG). This decision was a direct consequence of the sharp devaluation of the Nigerian naira.
The RWN reflected the risk of ENG potentially breaching its minimum capital requirements due to the direct effect of the devaluation. However, the recent projection by Fitch indicates a positive outlook for ENG’s creditworthiness and suggests a potential resolution of the RWN in the coming months.
Fitch Ratings’ positive projection and potential upgrade for Ecobank Nigeria signify the strengthening of ENG’s creditworthiness relative to other Nigerian issuers. The resolution of the Rating Watch Negative (RWN) within the next six months is anticipated, as factors such as exchange-rate volatility, regulatory capital ratios, and loan quality implications become clearer.
To achieve a full upgrade in ratings, ENG would require a sovereign upgrade and improved operating conditions, alongside a fortified financial profile. These criteria reflect Fitch’s emphasis on the stability and resilience of ENG in the face of economic challenges.
Overall, Fitch Ratings’ assessment demonstrates the positive trajectory of Ecobank Nigeria’s creditworthiness and highlights the potential for enhanced financial performance in the future.
Access Bank, Others Collect N154 Billion in Electronic Banking Fees in H1’23, a 16.7% YoY Surge
In the first half of 2023, customers of Nigeria’s top nine commercial banks paid a whopping N154 billion in fees for utilizing electronic banking services, reflecting a robust 16.7% year-on-year increase compared to H1’22’s N131.97 billion.
The data, extracted from the financial statements of these banks, underscores the escalating trend of Nigerians embracing electronic payment channels.
Leading the pack in revenue generation from these fees is Access Bank, amassing N43.9 billion, followed by United Bank for Africa Plc (N51.07 billion), Zenith Bank (N22.27 billion), Guaranty Trust Bank (N21.2 billion), and others like Stanbic IBTC (N2.14 billion), First City Monument Bank (N7.4 billion), Unity Bank (N1.96 billion), Fidelity Bank (N1.85 billion), and Wema Bank (N3.13 billion).
Electronic banking services encompass a gamut of options, including internet banking, mobile banking, ATMs, and Point of Sale (PoS) systems.
Recent data from the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) for Q1’23 indicates a substantial surge in electronic transactions.
Transaction volume increased by 209% YoY to 4.7 billion, and transaction value grew by 48% YoY to N137.52 trillion.
The nine banks collectively raked in N66.7 billion in account maintenance fees and commissions during H1’23, reflecting a 14.7% YoY rise.
Zenith Bank led this category with N21.02 billion, trailed by Access Bank (N13.36 billion), Guaranty Trust Bank (N10.5 billion), and United Bank of Africa (N9.6 billion).
Overall, the banks’ cumulative net fees and commission income registered a substantial 20.7% YoY growth, reaching N448.47 billion in H1’23 from N371.43 billion in H1’22.
Access Holdings Posts 52.6% Profit for the First Half of the Year
Parent Company of Access Bank Celebrates Remarkable Financial Performance in H1’23
Access Holdings Plc, the parent company of Access Bank, has reported a 58.9 percent surge in gross revenue to N940.3 billion for the first half of 2023.
The financial services giant also recorded remarkable growth in Profit Before Tax (PBT) and Profit After Tax (PAT) at 71.4 percent and 52.6 percent, respectively, culminating in N167.6 billion for PBT and N135.4 billion for PAT during the same period.
These financial milestones were unveiled as part of Access Holdings’ Audited Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements for the period concluding on June 30, 2023.
The driving force behind this unprecedented growth can be attributed to a potent combination of factors. A 63.0 percent growth in interest income and a 51.9 percent increase in non-interest income fueled the surge in gross revenue.
Access Holdings also witnessed a 35 percent year-to-date growth in customer deposits, capping the first half of 2023 at an impressive N12.5 trillion. This remarkable achievement encompassed all business segments, reinforcing the Group’s status as Nigeria’s largest financial institution by total assets.
The company’s total assets grew by 39.0 percent year-on-year to N20.9 trillion while shareholders’ funds surged by 40.6 percent to N1.7 trillion.
These astounding figures underline the Group’s ability to generate value from a diversified business portfolio, spanning banking, asset management, and payment services.
Herbert Wigwe, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, commented on the company’s positive performance, saying, “Our growth plans for the African continent remain firm and clear, driven by the strong long-term growth prospects and trade opportunities seen across many of the countries.”
He went on to emphasize the company’s commitment to its 5-year cyclical strategy, stating, “Our primary objective remains to transform Access Holdings Plc into a leading financial and ecosystem player, fostering opportunities for shared prosperity among all stakeholders.”
Central Bank of Nigeria Postpones 293rd Monetary Policy Committee Meeting
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the postponement of its 293rd Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, originally scheduled for September 25th and 26th, 2023.
Dr. Isa AbdulMumin, the bank’s Director of Corporate Communications, released a statement on Thursday confirming the decision.
In the statement, Dr. AbdulMumin stated, “The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria has deferred its 293rd meeting, which was initially planned for Monday and Tuesday, September 25th and 26th, 2023, respectively. A new date will be communicated in due course. We regret any inconvenience this change may cause our stakeholders and the general public.”
While the CBN did not provide an official reason for the postponement, some industry experts suggest it may be related to the pending approvals for the newly appointed governor and deputy governors of the bank.
President Bola Tinubu recently nominated Yemi Cardoso as the potential head of the CBN. Additionally, Tinubu has endorsed the nominations of four new deputy governors for the apex bank, who are expected to serve for an initial term of five years, pending confirmation by the Senate.
The nominated deputy governors are Emem Usoro, Muhammad Abdullahi-Dattijo, Philip Ikeazor, and Bala Bello. However, the appointment of the CBN governor is contingent upon Senate confirmation, which is currently on a yearly recess.
The CBN assures stakeholders and the public that the rescheduled MPC meeting date will be communicated promptly as soon as it is confirmed.
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