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Angola Withdraws from OPEC, Citing Misalignment with National Interests

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Crude oil

Angola has decided to exit the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), stating that the membership no longer aligns with the nation’s interests.

The announcement was made by Angola’s oil minister, Diamantino Azevedo, who emphasized that OPEC membership had ceased to serve the country’s best interests.

Angola, which became an OPEC member in 2007, currently produces approximately 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, a modest figure compared to OPEC’s overall daily production of 28 million barrels.

The decision to leave the organization raises questions about the future dynamics within OPEC and its efforts to stabilize global oil prices.

The news of Angola’s departure had an immediate impact on oil prices, with Brent prices dropping over $1 to $78.50 per barrel shortly after the announcement.

The move is considered a setback for OPEC and its allies as they grapple with challenges in coordinating production cuts to support oil prices.

Oil Minister Azevedo, in confirming the decision, did not provide specific details about the factors that led to Angola’s withdrawal.

However, last month, Angola expressed dissatisfaction with OPEC’s decision to reduce its production quota for 2024.

OPEC Governor Estevao Pedro stated that the country was unhappy with the assigned target and did not plan to adhere to it.

The departure of Angola from OPEC adds complexity to the ongoing negotiations within the organization, especially concerning production quotas and the delicate balance required to stabilize oil markets.

The move underscores the challenges faced by OPEC in maintaining cohesion among its diverse member countries with varying production capacities and economic priorities.

As Angola sets a new course outside OPEC, analysts are closely watching for further developments and the potential implications for global oil dynamics.

The decision by the African nation highlights the complex considerations that member countries must navigate in balancing individual interests with the collective objectives of the organization.

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Insurance

Sanlam to Acquire 60% Stake in MultiChoice’s Insurance Arm for R1.2bn

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insurance

South African insurance giant Sanlam Limited has announced plans to acquire a 60% stake in NMS Insurance Services (NMSIS), the insurance subsidiary of pay TV operator MultiChoice Group, for R1.2 billion.

This strategic acquisition aims to enhance Sanlam’s footprint in the African insurance market and leverage MultiChoice’s extensive subscriber base across the continent.

In a joint statement released on Tuesday, both companies revealed that the deal includes a long-term commercial arrangement designed to expand insurance and related financial services to MultiChoice’s diverse audience.

The transaction also features a performance-based cash earn-out potential of up to R1.5 billion, contingent upon the gross written premium generated by NMSIS by the end of 2026.

Paul Hanratty, CEO of Sanlam Group, expressed optimism about the acquisition, stating, “This partnership provides a unique opportunity to combine our market presence and technological capabilities, fostering growth and market penetration while creating synergies beneficial to all stakeholders.”

Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice, highlighted the strategic significance of the collaboration, noting, “This deal not only enhances the value we provide to our subscribers but also taps into Sanlam’s expertise to drive innovation and growth in our insurance offerings across Africa. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of our teams.”

NMSIS has shown impressive growth, with gross written premiums increasing by 36% year-on-year and profit after tax rising by 51% in the first quarter of 2024.

MultiChoice plans to use the proceeds from the sale for working capital while retaining a 40% interest in NMSIS.

The move comes as MultiChoice faces economic challenges, including a 13% drop in subscribers in key markets such as Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, and Zambia due to economic hardships and currency devaluations.

Despite these setbacks, the partnership with Sanlam is seen as a strategic step to bolster its financial services offerings and stabilize revenue streams.

The announcement also follows recent regulatory developments, with MultiChoice entering a Cooperation Agreement with Groupe Canal+ SA after Canal+ acquired a 45.20% stake in MultiChoice, necessitating a mandatory offer under South African takeover regulations.

As the African insurance market continues to grow, Sanlam’s acquisition of a significant stake in NMSIS positions both companies to capitalize on emerging opportunities, providing innovative insurance solutions to millions of customers across the continent.

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Finance

GTBank Takes 60 Bank Executives to Court Over N17bn Loan Dispute

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Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) has initiated legal proceedings against 60 top executives from 13 commercial banks in Nigeria.

The action stems from an ongoing dispute involving a N17 billion Anchor Borrowers Programme loan granted to AFEX Commodity Exchange.

The executives, including chairmen, chief executive officers, directors, and company secretaries, are facing contempt of court charges for allegedly failing to enforce a No-Debit-Order on AFEX Commodity Exchange’s accounts. The legal battle, which has drawn significant attention in the financial sector, is being closely monitored by industry stakeholders.

Details of the Case

The Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over by Justice CJ Aneke, signed an order to hold the executives accountable for disobeying its ruling dated May 27, 2024.

The court’s decision mandates the executives, including those from prominent banks such as Access Bank, Citibank, Jaiz Bank, Union Bank, Fidelity Bank, and First Bank of Nigeria Plc, to comply with the directive or face jail time.

The case, registered as FHC/L/CS/911/2024, involves GTBank and AFEX Commodity Exchange. The court had previously ordered 20 banks to transfer funds from AFEX’s accounts to GTBank until the outstanding N17.81 billion loan is repaid.

This sum includes the principal amount of N15.77 billion and additional recovery costs and expenses totaling N2.04 billion.

Contempt Proceedings

The legal notice, titled ‘Order to Serve Notice of Disobedience to Order of Court via Newspaper Publication,’ was published in national dailies, signaling the gravity of the situation.

The notice serves as a warning to the bank executives about the consequences of failing to adhere to the court’s order.

In addition to the commercial banks, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), acting as the liquidator for Heritage Bank, has also been cited for contempt.

The matter is set for further hearing next Thursday, where the court will decide the fate of the implicated executives.

Background and Implications

The dispute originates from a loan facility extended to AFEX Commodity Exchange under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme.

The loan was intended to finance smallholder farmers, with repayment expected through the sale of agricultural produce. However, AFEX reportedly defaulted on the loan, prompting GTBank to seek legal recourse.

AFEX has countered by stating that it has repaid 90% of the loan and is in ongoing discussions with the CBN regarding the remaining balance. The commodities exchange has cited economic challenges and macroeconomic policies, such as the naira redesign, which adversely affected the farmers’ ability to repay the loans.

The court has also permitted GTBank to take control of AFEX’s 16 warehouses across seven states, allowing the bank to sell the stored commodities to recover the outstanding loan.

Industry Reaction

The case has sparked concerns about the efficiency and integrity of Nigeria’s banking and financial sectors.

Charles Akinbobola, a senior energy analyst at Sofidam Capital, said, “The challenge of the power sector has not entirely been the scarcity of funds. Several trillions of naira have been pumped into that industry. The sector has been plagued by the shortcomings of its managers.”

Experts like Muda Yusuf, CEO of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, emphasize the need for addressing fundamental issues in the electricity value chain, such as technical and commercial losses, which continue to burden consumers with inefficiency costs.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the financial community will be watching closely to see how this high-stakes battle impacts the involved parties and the broader financial sector in Nigeria.

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Banking Sector

Guaranty Trust Holding Plans N500 Billion Share Offering

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Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCOPLC) has announced plans to raise up to N500 billion through a new share offering, according to a preliminary prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This move aims to support the company’s ambitious growth and expansion strategy.

GTCOPLC’s proposed offering will involve the subscription of ordinary shares of 50 kobo each, although the exact number of shares and the price range are yet to be determined.

The offering includes a concurrent filing of a preliminary universal shelf registration statement, allowing the company to issue various types of securities, potentially raising up to $750 million in multiple currencies.

Purpose of the Offering

The funds raised from this offering will primarily be allocated towards:

  1. Business Growth and Expansion: GTCOPLC plans to invest significantly in technology infrastructure to enhance its current operations. Additionally, the company intends to establish new subsidiaries and make selective acquisitions of non-banking businesses.
  2. Recapitalization of Guaranty Trust Bank Limited: Part of the proceeds will be used to strengthen the capital base of its banking subsidiary.

Target Investors and Structure

The offering is structured to attract both institutional and retail investors. It will be divided into two main tranches:

  • Nigerian Tranche: An institutional and retail offering aimed at eligible investors within Nigeria.
  • International Tranche: A private placement targeting qualified institutional buyers outside Nigeria.

Listing and Trading

GTCOPLC has also filed an application with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) to list and admit the new ordinary shares for trading on the NGX Official List.

The company anticipates opening the offering by July 2024.

Financial Strategy

The universal shelf registration will enable GTCOPLC to issue a variety of securities over time, with a total value of up to $750 million (or its equivalent in Nigerian Naira).

This approach provides the company with flexibility to raise capital in different markets during the programme’s validity period. The current proposed offering will be the first issuance under this new programme.

Regulatory Compliance

GTCOPLC emphasized that this notice does not constitute an offer of securities for sale in the United States or to U.S. persons, as defined under Regulation S of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933.

The offered shares have not been, and will not be, registered under the U.S. Securities Act or any state securities laws, and cannot be sold in the United States without proper registration or an applicable exemption.

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