- Following Nigeria’s Woes, S&P Downgrades MTN to Junk
MTN has not commented, save to alert the market Monday.
The ratings agency according to Independent Online, said in a statement released last Friday that the downgrade reflects increased country risk in Nigeria, MTN’s largest market. It follows its downgrade of Nigeria in the middle of last month further into junk.
“In our view, Nigeria’s economy has weakened due to a marked contraction in oil production, a restrictive foreign exchange regime, and delayed stimulus. MTN has material exposure to Nigeria and South Africa.”
Nigeria, MTN’s largest market, accounts for 37 per cent of revenue, while South Africa accounts for a quarter.
S&P said it considered MTN’s exposure to potential legal and regulatory risks and its ability to maintain sufficient liquidity in a sovereign default scenario.
MTN has recently battled in Nigeria and has been accused of illegally repatriating $14 billion out of the country, and bribing officials to reach a settlement on its record $1.6 billion fine.
The fine was levied by the National Communications Commission (NCC) because MTN failed to cut off unregistered subscribers and initially had been substantially higher.
S&P said while MTN’s debt ratio is expected to worsen, it expects improvement as reinstatement of regulatory revenues in Nigeria, increased data revenues, and improved device sales in South Africa.
It continues to view MTN’s debt as positive as it is modest and assumes it will reduce shareholder returns and capital expenditures (capex), given its NCC fine obligation and limited ability to source hard currency in Nigeria (because of foreign exchange controls).
“Still, we expect positive, albeit very low, discretionary cash flow.”
The rating agency also noted that its assessment of MTN’s business risk profile is supported by the group’s leading market positions in 15 of the 22 countries where it operates; geographic diversity; licences for third-generation and long-term evolution technology; more than 230 million subscribers,and growing markets that provide potential for continued, albeit unpredictable, revenues and operating profit growth.
“We could consider an upgrade if risk arising from country exposure abated. For example, this could occur if we upgraded Nigeria or South Africa and the resulting blended sovereign rating rose to ‘BB’, or if we believed MTN’s ability to withstand a sovereign stress had improved materially,” it said.
However, S&P warned that MTN could be lowered if risk increased materially.
High Pesticide is Reason Nigerian Beans Not Acceptable in Most Countries
High Pesticide is the Reason Nigerian Beans Not Acceptable in Most Countries
High pesticide residue is the reason exporters of Nigerian cowpea (beans) can no longer access certain foreign markets, according to the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS).
Vincent Isegbe, the Director-General, NAQS, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during a strategic engagement with the President of Cowpea Association of Nigeria, Shittu Mohammed.
Isegbe advised stakeholders to work together to address the weak cowpea value chain in order to establish a continuous market for Nigerian beans.
In a statement issued by Gozie Nwodo, the Head, Media, Communications and Strategies, NAQS, Isegbe said “The pattern of boom and bust in cowpea export owes to the ingrained issue of high pesticide residue.
“The pesticides are largely introduced during the storage phase. The residue levels in the cowpea tend to rise above the maximum threshold set by certain Customs union and this makes the product unacceptable in crucial destinations.”
Isegbe added, “We need to make a clean break from imprudent application of storage pesticides and consolidate a reputation for producing and delivering cowpea that satisfy relevant quality criteria.”
He said Nigeria is losing thousands of jobs and foreign exchange due to the suspension of cowpea or other agricultural commodities on account of intolerable quality defects.
Wema Bank Announces Collateral Free Loans for SMEs
Wema Bank to Provide Collateral Free Loans for Small Businesses
In a bid to ease COVID-19 burden on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Wema Bank has launched collateral-free loans for all qualified SMEs.
In a statement published by the bank last week, the lender said the loans will go a long way in assisting businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It explained that the move is in line with the bank’s mission to support the fight against ravaging COVID-19.
Further break down of the bank’s statement revealed that the SMEs loan products will provide N10 million to businesses in need of working capital without collateral or security for such financial support.
The credit facility, according to the bank, is available to business owners who have an establishment in trade/general commerce, Schools, Pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres.
Wema Bank added that in order to make the loan more accessible to businesses outside its customers, both new and existing customers can access the facility without previous banking history with Wema Bank. This, it said includes those doing business in their personal names.
“The bank is also offering up to N5 million without collateral and up to 12 months repayment period to businesses that are doing trading or general commerce while school owners can get up to N10 million without collateral with also 12 months repayment period.
“Health sector businesses like pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres can also get up to N5million without collateral with up to 12 months repayment period to meet working capital needs. In an earlier communication, the bank had stressed how critical it is to support players in the health sector, especially with the realities of the time.
“For us, we will continue to put the health of Nigerians and the safety of our communities first,” said the Managing Director/CEO Wema Bank, Ademola Adebise.
“It is our joy to see players in the health sector grow during this difficult time and we encourage them to take advantage of all our support programmes to keep their businesses afloat.”
AXA Mansard Sells Entire Stake in AXA Mansard Pensions
AXA Mansard Divests Interest From AXA Mansard Pensions
AXA Mansard Insurance on Friday announced it has divested from its subsidiary, AXA Mansard Pensions, after receiving Shareholder’s approval at the Company’s Extra Ordinary General Meeting on February 13th 2020.
In the statement signed by Mrs. Omowunmi Mabel Adewusi, the Company Secretary, AXA Mansard Insurance Plc and released through the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Company said it commenced the divestment process by appointing Messer Rand Merchant Bank as the Financial Advisers while Aluko & Oyebode acted as the Legal Adivsers on the deal.
The company entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Eustacia Limited to sell its entire 2,067,672,000 shares or 60 percent shareholding held by AXA Mansard Insurance Plc and another 1,378,448,000 shares or 40 percent shareholding held by minority Shareholder.
Speaking on the divestment, Mr. Kunle Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, AXA Mansard Insurance Plc said: “This transaction marks a new step in AXA´s broader strategy to focus on and grow our Life, Property & Casualty (P&C) and Health businesses across all its geographies. The AXA Group sees great potential in the Nigerian insurance market and believes AXA Mansard is ideally placed to capture these opportunities, thanks to its market leadership positions in Health Insurance, Property & Casualty and Life Insurance. We plan to capitalize on our successes to further build our capabilities and continue to deliver the best offers & services to our customers”.
Commenting on the transaction, Dapo Akisanya, CEO of AXA Mansard Pensions Limited said, “We are confident about Verod’s strong commitment to providing the Company with the requisite support to actualize our promise to our clients and stakeholders. As a West African investor with deep local knowledge and presence, we look forward to harnessing Verod’s unique, and world-class, attributes towards setting new standards in the industry.
Verod has the capacity, expertise, and network, to support the business to continue to expand and to provide innovative solutions for the benefit of our current and future clients”
“We strongly believe that this is the ideal time to enter the market and that AXA Mansard Pensions provides an excellent beachhead from which to establish a consolidated position and gain market share,” said Eric Idiahi, Partner at Verod.
“The National Pension Commission continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to raising standards within the industry and driving pension penetration rates in the short to medium term. We believe that sustaining AXA Mansard Pension’s industry-leading investment returns, excellent customer service, as well as, expanding distribution network and product offerings will facilitate the capture of the considerable growth potential within the Nigerian pensions industry, particularly following the opening of the transfer window.”
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