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Report: Gap Between Tier 1, Tier 2 Banks Widens

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Recession bites
  • Gap Between Tier 1, Tier 2 Banks Widens

The divide between the haves and the have-nots among Nigerian banks is widening, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The country’s biggest lender is so flush with cash it plans to repay $400 million of bonds when they become due in November 2018 rather than issuing additional debt, while the next two largest banks sold international bonds for the first time since 2014. At the other end of the scale, smaller lenders are scrapping plans to raise dollar loans and struggling to find investors to raise capital.

Top-tier banks in Africa’s most-populous nation and biggest oil producer are rallying after the central bank in April opened a foreign-exchange trading window, easing a crippling currency shortage that contributed to the worst economic contraction in 25 years. Smaller banks are lagging behind as they battle rising levels of non-performing loans and capital buffers near regulatory minimums.

“The gap between the Tier 1 and Tier 2 banks has been widening in profitability and balance-sheet size,” an analyst at Afrinvest West Africa Limited, OmotolaAbimbola said

“In the next one or two years we will probably see the trend extending further.”

United Bank for Africa Plc, the third-biggest lender by market value, raised $500 million in its first Eurobond sale on June 1 at yields below initial guidance. This followed an equivalent issue a week earlier by Zenith Bank Plc in a deal that was four times oversubscribed. Guaranty Trust Bank Plc said this month it has no plans to sell Eurobonds because it’s setting aside funds to repay existing debt.

By contrast, small- and mid-sized lenders like WemaBank Plc dropped plans last month to raise dollar loans to rather sell naira debt locally in smaller tranches. Unity Bank Plc has been in talks with investors since October, while Diamond Bank Plc has started negotiations to issue debt, the report added.

“We view the Tier 2 banks as potentially challenged,” Exotix Partners LLP analysts Jumai Mohammed and Ronak Gadhia said in a note last month. The lenders seem unable “to weather asset-quality deterioration storms.”

Still, the five-year dollar bonds didn’t come cheap. Lagos-based United Bank for Africa settled on a coupon, or interest paid twice annually, of 7.75 percent. That’s the highest of at least 10 sales of $500 million by emerging-market banks this year from Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, South Korea and China. Zenith will pay 7.375 percent, compared with 6.25 percent on five-year notes sold in April 2014.

Even so, more lenders will issue Eurobonds because they need dollars to offer loans in the U.S. currency or to repay debt, an analyst at Vetiva Capital Management Limited, Lekan Olabode said.

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, based in Lome, Togo, plans to sell a $400 million, five-year convertible bond this month to refinance debt and provide short-term bridge funding for non-performing loans at its Nigerian unit.

Fidelity Bank Plc will decide in the third quarter whether to refinance $300 million of bonds due in May next year or issue new debt after seeing yields on the securities drop and strong demand from investors for Zenith and UBA’s notes, its Chief Operations Officer Gbolahan Joshua said.

“Big banks have a pricing advantage,” said Vetiva’sOlabode. “That makes a big difference in size and capacity to do business.”

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 long experience in the global financial market. Contact Samed on Twitter: @sameolukoya

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IATA Says Nigerian Airlines Loses $2.09bn in April and June

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Airlines in Nigeria Loses $2.09 Billion in April and June

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that Nigerian airlines lost about $2.09 billion in the month of April and June due to COVID-19 lockdown.

In its report titled ‘Quarantine measures threaten aviation restart in Africa and the Middle East,’ IATA stated that the aviation sector in Africa and the Middle East was the worst-hit.

According to the report, the aviation sector in the two regions provides over 8.6 million direct and indirect jobs.

While the report did not provide data for the month of May, it stated that the number of Nigerian passengers declined by 4.7 million in April and 5.32 million in June when compared with the same period of 2019.

Similarly, the report said 125,400 jobs were at risk in April and 139,500 jobs were at risk in the month of June.

Muhammad Albakri, the Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, IATA, said governments in Africa and the Middle East must devise alternative methods to the current quarantine measures in place, saying the two regions have the highest number of government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers.

He said, “It is critical that AME governments implement alternatives to quarantine measures. AME has the highest number of countries in the world with government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers.

“The region is effectively in complete lockdown with the travel and tourism sector shuttered. This is detrimental in a region where 8.6 million people depend on aviation for their livelihoods.”

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Oando Partners Oilserv to Build Ajaokuta-Kaduna Portion of AKK Project

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Oando, Oilserv to Construct Ajaokuta-Kaduna Portion of AKK Project

Oando Plc has partnered Oilserve Limited to construct a 303.4km linear pipeline system for the Ajaokuta to Kaduna portion of the $2.8 billion, 40 inch by 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline Project, the AKK Pipeline.

According to a statement released by Oando through the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the construction of the AKK Pipeline Project approved in 2018 has commenced on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

The statement reads “Oando PLC (referred to as “Oando” or the “the Company”), is pleased to announce to the Company’s attendance as a consortium partner at the flag-off ceremony for the construction of the $2.8billion, 40 inch by 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline Project (the “AKK Pipeline”), by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

“The AKK Pipeline Project, championed by two consortia comprising select indigenous and international companies commenced in 2013 with the announcement for tenders by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). In April 2018, the Company announced that following an extensive due diligence and bid process, the Oilserv-Oando PLC consortium was awarded the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) mandate for segment 1, accounting for 40” by 303.4km linear pipeline system for the Ajaokuta to Kaduna portion of the AKK Pipeline Project by the NNPC.”

Speaking on the project, Jubril Adewale Tinubu, the Group Chief Executive, Oando PLC, said: “As a proudly Nigerian company, focused on driving indigenous participation we have always been proponents of public private partnership in accelerating the actualization of the nation’s goals.

“We have aspired to play an integral role in the building out of the National Gas Infrastructure and Pipeline Grid, as evidenced by our efforts in 2009, post the Nigerian Gas Masterplan when we participated in the unrealized Calabar- Ajaokuta- Abuja-Kano (CAAK) line.

“We have developed strategic partnerships with both private sector players and the NNPC in bringing sustainable solutions to spur the development of the country via our numerous gas development and distribution projects. We commend the NNPC for spearheading projects that will soften the headwinds occasioned by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are proud to be active participants in driving the country’s industrialization and actualization of the Gas Master Plan which will undoubtedly create employment opportunities and ultimately generate as well as enhance value for the nation.”

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Ethiopian Airlines Sustain Profitability Despite COVID-19

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Despite COVID-19, Ethiopian Airlines Stay Afloat

Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines, manages to stay afloat during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, Tewolde Gebre-Mariam, the airline CEO, stated.

The Chief Executive Officer said “We may not be as profitable as we expected but we registered some profit. The first half of the year was good and the cargo business has also done very well.”

While the airline is expected to be down by almost $1 billion in ticket sales in the current year ending July 7, it generated enough revenue from the transportation of goods to finance monthly fixed payments between $120 million to $150 million for loans, aircraft leases, salaries and rentals.

According to Gebre-Mariam, the airline is still flying about 40 charter repatriations per week despite other flights completely grounded.

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