Presidency on Tuesday expressed support for the banking sector consolidation initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying it would help the country to grow the economy to a new height.
This came barely five days after the CBN said it would ask banks to raise new capital.
According to the Presidency, it has become important to consider the capital adequacy of Nigerian banks in light of the projected $1tn economy in eight years.
Representing President Bola Tinubu at the 40th Anniversary Celebration of The Guardian Newspapers in Lagos on Tuesday, the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, said there would be a strong need to revisit the capital adequacy levels of banks
Onanuga said, “On the economy, that is facing all of us, our ambition to attain the $1tn appears daunting but we believe that it is achievable with God on our side and our collective determine. This explains the reason the VP and I have been on the road trying to attract huge investments into various phases of our economy; agriculture, oil and gas and others.
“To arrive at the $1tn economy, we must address the capital adequacy of our banks that will prepare the fuel for this journey.”
At the 58th annual Bankers’ Dinner last Friday, CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, had said a stress test performed on Nigerian banks revealed that while they would withstand mild to moderate stress, they would be unable to service a $1tn economy projected by Tinubu in seven years, hence the need for recapitalisation.
Cardoso said, “Stress tests conducted on the banking industry also indicate its strength under mild-to-moderate scenarios of sustained economic and financial stress, although there is room for further strengthening and enhancing resilience to shocks. Therefore, there is still much work to be done in fortifying the industry for future challenges.”
He added, “Considering the policy imperatives and the projected economic growth, it is crucial for us to evaluate the adequacy of our banking industry to serve the envisioned larger economy. It is crucial to evaluate the adequacy of our banking industry to serve the envisioned larger economy. It is not just about its current stability. We need to ask ourselves, can Nigerian banks have sufficient capital relative to the finance system needs in servicing a $1tn economy shortly, in my opinion, the answer is no, unless we take action. As a first test, the central bank will be directing banks to increase their capital.”
Mega bank stocks
Meanwhile, PUNCH findings show investors have begun positioning themselves in the stocks of Tier-1 banks listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited following the announcement of the proposed recapitalisation of the banks.
There are reports some big banks may be eyeing smaller and weaker ones in the event the proposed consolidation in the sector fuels possible acquisitions.
Meanwhile, findings showed that some listed financial institutions gained over N101.18bn on Monday and Tuesday, following the announcement of the proposed banking sector recapitalisation.
An analysis done by The PUNCH at the close of trading on Tuesday revealed that at least six of the lenders added to their market capitalisation in the two trading sessions this week, while five banks shed their value and two remained unchanged.
The lenders who gained included United Bank for Africa Plc, whose market capitalisation rose to N731.87bn on Tuesday from N713.06bn on Friday, the market cap of Zenith Bank Plc appreciated by one per cent to N1.10tn and Access Holdings Plc’s market cap rose by four per cent to close Tuesday’s trading at N639.81bn.
FBN Holdings Plc has been the biggest gainer so far as its market cap stood at N800.47bn on Tuesday from N717.91bn on Friday, marking an 11 per cent appreciation. The market cap of Sterling Financial Holdings Plc rose by 4.51 per cent to N106.81bn and the value of FCMB Group’s share rose by one per cent to N137.63bn.
The five lenders who lost during the period under review include; Guaranty Trust Holding Company (-1 per cent), Jaiz Bank (-2 per cent), Unity Bank (-8.69 per cent), Wema Bank and Stanbic IBTC Holdings (-3.08 per cent) to close with their market capitalisation at N1.13tn, N55.27bn, N19.64bn, N66.61bn and N816.29bn respectively.
The market capitalisation of two lenders, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated Plc and Fidelity Bank remained unchanged over the two-day period at N293.59bn and N288.11bn respectively.
A bank CEO, who earlier spoke to The PUNCH, welcomed the CBN policy direction regarding the recapitalisation of the banks, saying his institution was ready to raise fresh capital though it had yet to conclude the modality.
“Even before the CBN governor made the pronouncement, our bank was already considering raising fresh capital to significantly increase the capital base. This should happen in the first quarter of 2024. So, we are in tune with the CBN governor,” the CEO of a Tier-1 lender told one of our correspondents on Saturday.
In the last few months, First Bank of Nigeria Holdings, Wema Bank and Jaiz Bank have proposed Rights Issues, while Fidelity Bank has announced plans to raise additional capital via the issuance of 13,200 billion ordinary shares via public offer and rights issue. It was gathered that Wema Bank would commence its Rights Issue on December 1.
Order CBN to honour Letters of Credit– SINET to Tinubu, NASS
Amidst several hardships facing the Nigerian populace, the Social Integrity Network, (SINET) has urged President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the leadership of national assembly to compel the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.
The group also urged the Federal Government to make further clarification concerning a statement credited to the CBN Governor on issues regarding the alleged and well-publicized revelations of a $2.4 billion forex trading fraud.
SINET recalled that “On February 5, 2024, the governor of CBN made this declaration in both his interactions with Senate committees and his interview on a national television, following the engagement of Deloitte Management Consultant to conduct a forensic investigation where he claimed that the said amount was uncovered.
A statement issued on Monday by SINET national coordinator, Ibrahim Issah, disclosed that “On the contrary, we wish to unequivocally state that these claims lack merit and do not take into account the consequences they will have on businesses, public perception, or the economy of our cherished nation and its implication on forex both at home and abroad.”
According to him, “Without sentiment, the claim is completely falsehood and unacceptable as he, the CBN governor, failed to consider its economic implications. It is pertinent to state that genuine businessmen and women across the country, borrowed Funds from commercial banks, some with interest rates as high as 30% to secure forex from the CBN through their respective commercial banks since CBN does not sell the dollars to individuals directly.
“The same funds have been deposited with CBN for the past one and half years for forwards allocated for which the Apex Bank is now claiming were fraudulent transactions. May we remind Mr. Governor that while the CBN allocated the forwards after collecting the naira for each forward allocated, the commercial banks used these same forward contracts as a hedge and issued Letters of Credit (LCs) to their various customers against their offshore credit lines and also as a sovereign guarantee to their offshore banks which stand unpaid till today as a result of the failure of CBN to honour the various forward contracts.
“May we also remind our CBN Governor that as a result of their failure to honour these contracts, the outstanding foreign loans continue to accrue interest (post-negotiation charges), which the commercial Banks are passing to their customers: the same customers you say do not have a genuine claim.”
The statement further stressed that, “The public would like to ask Mr. Governor the following questions: What will happen to the foreign bank that is expecting their payment to be paid back? What will happen to the businessmen and women who had borrowed Naira from commercial Banks and paid the same into the CBN account for the purchase of forex for over eighteen months? Who will bear the interest charged on borrowed funds locally? Who will bear the charges running against the offshore lines used in establishing Letters of Credit? What will happen to the businesses? What will happen to the employees that are dependent on the survival of the businesses that CBN is trying to kill?
“We call upon the senate president and, in fact, the president and Commander In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to call the CBN governor to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.
“Let us state categorically that the CBN is killing businesses by cancelling the forward contracts that were sold to them about 18 months ago at the rate of N450/dollar and now selling the same funds to the commercial banks and directing the bank to sell the money at the rate of 1,500/dollar to the same businesses who initially had a forward contract at the rate of N450/dollar.
“May we also remind Mr. Governor, that failure to honour these forward contracts is taking commercial banks longer time to clean the offshore lines already used for establishing Letters of Credit against which shipments have been done and payment made to LC beneficiaries by the offshore banks. The delays of the commercial banks to settle their Forex obligations to their offshore banks is making our country risk to be very high.
“Lastly, the public will like to call on the coordinating minister for the economy, Mr. Wale Edun to engage the CBN regarding this issue of undelivered forward contracts because at present in Nigeria, almost 60% of companies in the manufacturing sector have been closed due to the volatility of Forex in Nigeria in order to avoid the other 40% from also closing down.
“This will go a long way to help the few remaining manufacturing companies still in operation in Nigeria and also encourage the new investors that the president and commander in-chief of the federal republic is trying woo to bring their investments to Nigeria.”
Senate Passes Sen Ashiru’s Bill To Establish National Road Transport Council
The Senate on Tuesday granted first reading to a bill seeking to establish a National Road Transport Council which is to be saddled with the responsibility of regulating the road transport industry and the transport profession in Nigeria.
The bill titled National Road Transportation Council (Establishment) Bill 2024 is sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader Senator Oyelola Ashiru and was introduced to the Senate plenary after the Senators resumed from their 30 day recess.
Further details of the bill fronted by the Kwara South Senator reveals that if signed into law a council board will be established which shall consist of a Board chairman and six members drafted from each geo-political zone of the country.
More insights of the bill sighted by the Sun also states that the board shall be presided by a representative from Ministries of transport, commerce and industry and aviation and they shall not be below the rank of a Director.
As highlighted in the explanatory memorandum of the bill , [b]the functions of the proposed council include; creating an effective regulatory framework on road transport service operators; determining the standard of knowledge and skills required for road transport service operators; encouraging the advancement of education in road transportation; ensuring accessibility of road transport facilities, [/b]channels, and routes; monitoring the performance of the regulated road transport industry; conducting background check on road transport service operators; registering all road transport service providers and determine the fees for such registration; setting guidelines and general policies for road transport service operators; updating the Federal Government on its activities and progress through annual and audited reports; reviewing progress and suggest improvement within the provisions of this Bill and do such other things as are necessary or incidental to the objects of the Council under this Bill or as may be assigned by the Federal Government.
The bill received the nod of the Senators via voice votes presided by the Senate President Godswill Akpabio shortly after it was introduced to the floor of the Red Chambers by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.