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Nigeria And China Currency Swap Deal Explained

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Imagine you are China. You sell a lot of stuff to the world. In fact, your whole economy is based on selling things to the world. You have an incentive to make trade as smooth as possible with other countries especially when it comes to making payments.

But you have another dilemma. You are not a wholly open economy. You like to control your currency as much as you can to make it undervalued in a way that benefits your manufacturers. If you let the currency trade freely like the dollar or Pound, the market will probably value it higher than you want which will make your products more expensive.

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So, the way you can achieve this is by tightly controlling the amount of your currency that is available around the world. Unlike the US dollar that is widely available around the world to the extent that countries like Ecuador can decide to adopt the dollar as their currency without getting permission from the US, you can’t do that with the Chinese Yuan.
These 2 issues — trading with the world and tightly controlling the circulation of your currency — are in tension with each other. So how to solve it?

A Simple Story of Swaps

Or if you prefer the ‘technical’ name — Bilateral Currency Swap Agreements. Depending on who initiates the swap, a simplified version will work something like this.

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Nigeria wants to make life easier for its traders who buy a lot of stuff from China. As Nigeria doesn’t sell much to China, it is not easy for the CBN to build up Chinese Yuan reserves. This means that for any trader who wants to buy stuff from China, they have to get prices in dollars. This adds costs and risks given that the person in China giving the quote has to convert Yuan to dollars before sending to Nigeria, bearing in mind the risk of currency moves affecting his bottom line. The Nigerian guy then has to buy dollars to make the payment to him. From the point of view of the CBN, this is extra dollar demand that can be avoided.

So CBN approaches the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and asks to set up a swap. Xe.com tells me that 1 Chinese Yuan is currently worth about N30. So for the sake of simplicity, let’s say CBN offers to swap N30bn for Y1bn. Both of them agree an exchange rate on the day of the swap (N30 to Y1) and they make the transfer.

Now that CBN has some Yuan, it can then sell it to Nigerian banks in the same way it sells them dollars. The Nigerian trader can then tell his Chinese trading partner to give him a quote in Yuan instead of dollars. Once he has the Yuan quote, the trader can then go to a Nigerian bank and make a request for Yuan in the same way he used to make requests for dollars. Instead of the headache of dealing with 3 currencies, the dollar element is now removed and we have a normal 2-way quote.

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This takes off some dollar demand pressure as people who want to buy stuff from China can face their Yuan squarely while the dollar people face their dollars. At least we get to know who is who. All of this is, of course, conditional on the amount of Yuan being swapped.
But what are the Chinese guys going to do with their N30bn? Same thing — they can now pay in naira for anything they buy from their Nigerian trading partners.

Chinese Swaps

For a number of years now, the Chinese have been entering into these swap agreements with various countries on a country by country basis. The swaps typically last for 3 years after which they are renewed or increased. As an example, in 2012, the UK signed a swap agreement for Y200bn with China. Last year, it was extended and increased to Y350bn.
The map below shows the countries that had swaps with China as at 2015, per the PBOC

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china swap agreement

And here’s a table with the agreements and amounts swapped.

swap table

As you can see, Nigeria is coming very late to the party. Perhaps, this might open the gates in Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s also clear they are done on a country by country basis depending on the amount of trade that goes on between them (although the exact correlation is not so easy to work out).

You’re probably asking — if the agreements are for 3 years, what happens at the end? In theory, both countries simply exchange currencies at the same exchange rate they used at the beginning of the swap. Returning to the example above — Nigeria will return the Y1bn to the PBOC and take back its N30bn from them. If this sounds too good to be true, it is. The person who initiated the swap will pay interest on the money it received at an agreed interest rate.

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So What Did Nigeria Swap?

Given the above, inquiring minds probably want to know how much Nigeria swapped with China and when does the agreement begin? Well, this is Nigeria and nothing is ever straightforward as it should be.

First of all, it appears that the swap Nigeria entered into was with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) — the world’s largest bank by assets. That is, the CBN is not dealing with the PBOC but with a ‘private’ Chinese bank (ICBC is owned by the Chinese government).

Second, I have trawled the internet and cannot find the amount that was or is being swapped. As you can see from above, there has to be an amount swapped for it to make any sense. I have searched Chinese news outlets and even ICBC’s news page and cannot find anything on the swap let alone the amount. The news appears to have originated from Nigerian officials who briefed the media. In contrast, Dangote did get a $2bn expansion loan from ICBC and this was announced.

When They Come Back Home

So that’s that about that. Perhaps when they come back home from China, we will get more details from them. But based on this, we know what questions to ask (I’m talking to you Nigerian journalists).

Why was the swap signed with ICBC and not PBOC? How much is being swapped and for how long? And (bonus question), what is the interest rate to be paid? (We can assume the CBN initiated the swap and will be the one to pay interest on the Yuan it receives). How will the Yuan market be priced? Will it be another ‘official’ and parallel rate mess like we currently have with the dollar? This is a trick question because, if it is market priced, we shall have plenty of fun with the contradictions in pricing the dollar ‘officially’ and the Yuan by the market.

But that’s enough speculation for one post.

This article was originally posted in Feyi’s Medium Page and was obtained with permission.

Patricia
10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. egbuyugo

    April 15, 2016 at 10:50 am

    I’ll be the first to admit ignorance on the swap but this article not only cleared up issues, it is making me await the responses to the questions you raised from the Nigerian authorities.

  2. Anonymous

    April 15, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    I came here to read the economic benefits of the currency swap, although this is explanatory, but my hopes were not met. *Skipping to the next google search item

  3. Josiah Ilori

    April 15, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    I can now clearly see why the Chinese cleverly dominated the world economy. And judging from the current waive of world commerce as is engaging presently, the Chinese will inevitably dominate the world commerce and prosperity. The explanation given above has explained better why the Chinese are speeding up their domination of the world economy. The system that the Chinese approach the world economy appears to be different from the Western approach. Swapping of trade and currency approach undoubtedly will no doubt help the developing world to develop their resources more so on import export trades. Million of dollars are saved by countries that rely on Chinese approach. Direct swapping of trade and currency with the Chinese will eliminate conversion rate from the deal; meaning that a direct dealing with an importer of Chinese product will become cheaper than going through the dollar exchange. This is a very laudable opportunity for Nigeria to patronize the yuan than the dollar. The Chinese are very cleaver and over the years, they have been studying the world economy and having realized the huge advantage of gains that are attributable to their economy quickly and cleverly encourage swapping of their commodities and currency to the entire world! A list of participating countries utilizing the swap system with the Chinese explain why the system is very successful and help all participating countries. My advice is that Nigeria should move quickly by adopting the system and damn the consequences from their current trade partners. Fortunately, Nigeria has a huge population and manpower to address the consequence of trade in balance with the Chinese. Nigeria has the crude oil and minerals to export to the Chinese while we patronize their finished industrial and manufacturing goods. Expectedly, these activities in trade would surely enhance the position of Nigeria’s foreign reserve. After all, Nigeria has been independent from the British for over fifty years, and as a free nation, we are duty bound to trade freely with any economy in the world that will favour the social and economic welfare of our teeming population. Conclusively, this is the best time for Nigeria to take advantage of the usual opportunity. An opportunity once lost can never be regained!

  4. Venividivici

    April 16, 2016 at 1:42 am

    Riveting analysis.i am hooked.

  5. Anonymous

    April 16, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks a lot for this article. It has further broadened my knowledge on this swap thing, But our journalists won’t ask the right questions.

  6. Anonymous

    April 17, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Some Nigerians are jubilating over a $2b loan from China and the so nocknamed the Yuan trading deal.
    China wants to lend us 2 billion dollars, but they want to give us in Yuan and not the dollar itself.

    They are not handing us cash, but service exchange; meaning if we want to buy iron rods, we buy it from a Chinese company and they pay the company on our behalf. If we want to construct a railway, they will construct it for us and deduct the money out of the loan. In the end, we are bound to award contracts to them, cutting out competition from others and fairplay to others (non Chinese companies can’t bid or compete to reduce the costs). They get to value the contract and determine the price, meaning they can sell something worth 200 Naira for N2000 and we don’t have a choice because it is on credit.

    The worst of it is that China wants us to pay back in dollars, that is not all, we are moving our foreign reserve to fake currency (Yuan) a currency that is manipulated openly by the Chinese government. Did anyone ask Lamido Sanusi what happened to some of our reserves he moved to Yuan few years ago? They sold us Yuan at 4 to a dollar, only to devalue their currency few weeks later to 9 Yuan per $.

    Many Nigerians don’t know that even Chinese companies don’t want yuan, nobody wants it, Chinese foreign reserve is in dollars, China is the largest holder of US bonds, they want dollars by all means.

    Also, China have more lobbyists in Washington DC than any other nations on earth, begging American politicians to always make policy decisions in their favour, how can such country save us from USD? Has anyone asked why China hasn’t built any refinery in Nigeria?? They have the money, they want the profit, but never did it.

    If China does anything against Washington’s interest in Nigeria, USA that has too much political power over China will just tell them not to do it. China will continue to inflate the contract price, refuse to complete the project and deceive us further.

    I don’t blame Chinese leaders for trying to scam us, I blame our leaders for not being smart enough. What do you expect when you have political hacks negotiating on behalf of Nigeria against smart professionals from China? I was thinking Nigeria political leaders will do research about Chinese lobbyists in Washington and understand the interest they are protecting before believing in this Chinese version of Trojan horse called the Yuan Trading deal.

    We are the only ones that can help ourselves, let’s implement true federalism system and free market. Development is a culture and not a product, we can’t buy it no matter how much money we have or borrow.

    You must be living in a PARALLEL universe if you think that Nigeria’s intention of being a clearing house for the Yuan in Africa means the naira will now hold steady.

    If you like, tie your currency with Thailand Baht or Ghanaian Cedi, the value of your currency will always have the value it deserves.

    Hong Kong for instance is an administrative region of China, but guess what, its currency is firmly tied to the US dollar!

    The Yuan is not automatically going to be operating independent of the dollar to boost the naira in any way.

    The only thing that has happened here is that the Yuan becomes an accepted currency of exchange to facilitate direct business with Chinese people. This will not in anyway strengthen the naira but the gains will be in the avoidance of double exchange from dollar to Yuan.

    The Yuan will swing with the wind depending on what happens to the world’s controlling currency, the dollar.

    The naira will continue its natural descent as we produce and export very little and even trade with China becomes very expensive as the world’s comparative exchange rate will not wait for the Naira/Yuan pretend marriage.

    The value of the naira will continue to be subject to the international exchange rate, which is controlled by and inextricably linked to (you guessed it?) the DOLLAR!

    The silly idea that this arrangement could crash the dollar is only palatable to people living in a cocoon, in a cuckoo land (Nigeria), with a totally warped sense of reality.

    The real winners here are the Chinese who have found another place to ship their milling population to recolonise on the cheap.

    Nigeria has taken the path of double parallel which will be unsustainable in the medium term as a consumer nation.

    The naira will continue to fall unless you can sell more oil or start exporting something the rest of the world would pay you for.

    My projection for the naira is 500 to $1 by year end if the oil price does not improve drastically and we sell oil, the only thing we ‘produce’.

  7. Anonymous

    April 18, 2016 at 8:04 am

    My small contribution, The dollar today is 310 Naira and trade between Nigeria and China is 13billion USD per year. To buy this in the black market you are looking at 4 trillion Naira. 13billon USD in Yuan is 84billion Yuan. In Naira this comes to 2.5trillion Naira. I really don’t gerrit Professor economist.
    This policy saves Nigeria about 1.5 trillion Naira. And its not a forever deal Prof; in essence if tomorrow the dollar becomes cheaper in Nigeria we can simply go back to buying the dollar and changing it to Yuan like we used to do.

  8. Anonymous

    May 15, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    is the transaction even up to a trillion

  9. Olubunmi Ogunsanwo

    May 31, 2018 at 7:34 am

    This is good for our economy

  10. Dandago

    August 22, 2018 at 12:24 am

    The deal is definitely in favour of the higher exporter among the two country. For Nigerian Naira to avoid Dollar influence as the country goes for the Yuan swap, effort should be intensified to export more and more products and services from the country.
    Dandago

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Why Insurance firms are selling off their PFAs

It has not been uncommon over the years to have insurance companies with pension subsidiaries.

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Why Insurance firms are selling off their PFAs

The idea of mitigating risks and curtailing losses at the bare minimum begins from the insurance industry and only crosses into the pension space with the need for retirement planning. For this reason, it has not been uncommon over the years to have insurance companies with pension subsidiaries. However, controlling the wealth of people is no easy feat – and crossover companies are beginning to think it might not be worth it competing with the big guns; that is, the pension fund administrators (PFAs) that already cater to the majority of Nigerians.

A few months ago, AXA Mansard Insurance Plc announced that its shareholders have approved the company’s plan to sell its pension management subsidiary, AXA Mansard Pensions Ltd, as well as a few undisclosed real estate investments. It did not provide any reason for the divestment. More recently, AIICO Insurance Plc also let go of majority ownership in its pension arm, AIICO Pension Managers Ltd. FCMB Pensions Ltd announced its plans to acquire 70% stakes in the pension company, while also acquiring an additional 26% stake held by other shareholders, ultimately bringing the proposed acquisition to a 96% stake in AIICO Pension. The reason for the sell-off by AIICO does not also appear to be attributed to poor performance as the group’s profit in 2019 had soared by 88% driven by growth across all lines of business within the group.

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 So why are they selling them off? 

Pension Fund Administration is, no doubt, a competitive landscape. Asides the wealth of the over N10 trillion industry, there is also the overarching advantage that pension contributors do not change PFAs regularly. Therefore, making it hard to compete against the big names and industry leaders that have been in the game for decades – the kinds of Stanbic IBTC, ARM, Premium Pension, Sigma, and FCMB. Of course, the fact that PFAs also make their money through fees means the bigger the size, the more money you make. With pressure to capitalize mounting, insurance firms will most likely spin off as they just don’t have the right focus, skills, and talents to compete.

The recent occurrence of PENCOM giving contributors the opportunity to switch from one PFA to another might have seemed like the perfect opportunity for the smaller pension companies to increase their market shares by offering better returns. More so, with the introduction of more aggrieved portfolios in the multi-fund structure comprising of RSA funds 1, 2, & 3, PFAs can invest in riskier securities and enhance their returns. However, the reality of things is that the smaller PFAs don’t have what it takes to effectively market to that effect. With the gains being made from the sector not particularly extraordinary, it is easier for them to employ their available resources into expanding their core business. There is also the fact that their focus now rests on meeting the new capital requirements laced by NAICOM. Like Monopoly, the next smart move is to sell underperforming assets just to keep their head above water.

READ MORE: AIICO seeks NSE’s approval for conducting Rights Issue

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Olasiji Omotayo, Head of Risk in a leading pension fund administrator, explained that “Most insurance businesses selling their pension subsidiaries may be doing so to raise funds. Recapitalization is a major challenge now for the insurance sector and the Nigerian Capital Market may not welcome any public offer at the moment. Consequently, selling their pension business may be their lifeline at the moment. Also, some may be selling for strategic reasons as it’s a business of scale. You have a lot of fixed costs due to regulatory requirements and you need a good size to be profitable. If you can’t scale up, you can also sell if you get a good offer.”

What the future holds

With the smaller PFAs spinning off, the Pension industry is about to witness the birth of an oligopoly like the Tier 1 players in the Banking sector. Interestingly, the same will also happen with Insurance. The only real issue is that we will now have limited choices. In truth, we don’t necessarily need many of them as long all firms remain competitive. But there is the risk that the companies just get comfortable with their population growth-induced expansion while simply focusing on low-yielding investments. The existence of the pandemic as well as the really low rates in the fixed-income market is, however, expected to propel companies to seek out creative ways to at least keep up with the constantly rising rate of inflation.

 

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Nigerian Banks expected to write off 12% of its loans in 2020 

The Nigerian banking system has been through two major asset quality crisis.

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Nigerian Banks expected to write off 12% of its loans in 2020 

The Nigerian Banking Sector has witnessed a number of asset management challenges owing largely to macroeconomic shocks and, sometimes, its operational inefficiencies in how loans are disbursedRising default rates over time have led to periodic spikes in the non-performing loans (NPLs) of these institutions and it is in an attempt to curtail these challenges that changes have been made in the acceptable Loan to Deposit (LDR) ratios, amongst others, by the apex regulatory body, CBN. 

Projections by EFG Hermes in a recent research report reveal that as a result of the current economic challenges as well as what it calls “CBN’s erratic and unorthodox policies over the past five years,” banks are expected to write off around 12.3% of their loan books in constant currency terms between 2020 and 2022the highest of all the previous NPL crisis faced by financial institutions within the nation.  

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Note that Access Bank, FBN Holdings, Guaranty Trust Bank, Stanbic IBTC, United Bank for Africa and Zenith Bank were used to form the universe of Nigerian banks by EFG Hermes.  

READ MORE: What banks might do to avoid getting crushed by Oil & Gas Loans

Background  

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Over the past twelve years, the Nigerian banking system has been through two major asset quality crisisThe first is the 2009 to 2012 margin loan crisis and the other is the 2014 to 2018 oil price crash crisis 

The 2008-2012 margin loan crisis was born out of the lending institutions giving out cheap and readily-available credit for investments, focusing on probable compensation incentives over prudent credit underwriting strategies and stern risk management systems. The result had been a spike in NPL ratio from 6.3% in 2008 to 27.6% in 2009. The same crash in NPL ratio was witnessed in 2014 as well as a result of the oil price crash of the period which had crashed the Naira and sent investors packing. The oil price crash had resulted in the NPL ratio spiking from 2.3% in 2014 to 14.0% in 2016.  

Using its universe of banks, the NPL ratio spiked from an average of 6.1% in 2008 to 10.8% in 2009 and from 2.6% in 2014 to 9.1% in 2016. During both cycles, EFG Hermes estimated that the banks wrote-off between 10-12% of their loan book in constant currency terms.  

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 READ MORE: Ratings firm explains why bank non-performing loans could be worse than expected

The current situation 

Given the potential macro-economic shock with real GDP expected to contract by 4%, the Naira-Dollar exchange rate expected to devalue to a range of 420-450, oil export revenue expected to drop by as much as 50% in 2020 and the weak balance sheet positions of the regulator and AMCON, the risk of another significant NPL cycle is high. In order to effectively assess the impact of these on financial institutions, EFG Hermes modelled three different asset-quality scenarios for the banks all of which have their different implications for banks’ capital adequacy, growth rates and profitability.  These cases are the base case, lower case, and upper case. 

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Base Case: The company’s base case scenario, which they assigned a 55% probability, the average NPL ratio and cost of risk was projected to increase from an average of 6.4% and 1.0% in 2019 to 7.6% and 5.3% in 2020 and 6.4% and 4.7% in 20201, before declining to 4.9% and 1.0% in 2024, respectively. Based on its assumptions, they expect banks to write-off around 12.3% of their loan books in constant currency terms between 2020 and 2022a rate that is marginally higher than the average of 11.3% written-off during the previous two NPL cycles. Under this scenario, estimated ROE is expected to plunge from an average of 21.8% in 2019 to 7.9% in 2020 and 7.7% in 2021 before recovering to 18.1% in 2024.  

Lower or Pessimistic Case: In its pessimistic scenario which has a 40% chance of occurrencethe company projects that the average NPL ratio will rise from 6.4% in 2019 to 11.8% in 2020 and 10.0% in 2021 before moderating to 4.9% by 2024It also estimates that the average cost of risk for its banks will peak at 10% in 2020 and 2021, fall to 5.0% in 2022, before moderating from 2023 onwards. Under this scenario, banks are expected to write off around as much as 26.6% of their loan books in constant currency terms over the next three years. Average ROE of the banks here is expected to drop to -8.8% in 2020, -21.4% in 2021 and -2.9% in 2022, before increasing to 19.7% in 2024.   

Upper or optimistic case: In a situation where the pandemic ebbs away and macro-economic activity rebounds quicklythe optimistic or upper case will hold. This, however, has just a 5% chance of occurrence. In this scenario, the company assumes that the average NPL ratio of the banks would increase from 6.4% in 2019 to 6.8% in 2020 and moderate to 4.8% by 2024Average cost of risk will also spike to 4.2% in 2020 before easing to 2.4% in 2021 and average 0.9% thereafter through the rest of our forecast period. Finally, average ROE will drop to 11.6% in 2020 before recovering to 14.4% in 2021 and 19.0% in 2024. 

With the highest probabilities ascribed to both the base case and the pessimistic scenario, the company has gone ahead to downgrade the rating of the entire sector to ‘Neutral’ with a probability-weighted average ROE (market cap-weighted) of 13.7% 2020 and 2024. The implication of the reduced earnings and the new losses from written-off loans could impact the short to medium term growth or value of banking stocks. However, in the long term, the sector will revert to the norm as they always do.   

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Even with a 939% jump in H1 Profit, Neimeth still needs to build consistency

Neimeth has been one of the better performers in the stock market in the last one year. 

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Even with a 939% jump in H1 profit, Neimeth still needs to build consistency 

Neimeth’s profit after tax for H1 2020 might have jumped by 939% from H1 2019, but there’s still so much the company needs to do to remain in the game. 

For the first time in years, Pharmaceutical companies across the globe are in the spotlight for a good reason.  As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the world waits patiently for this industry to produce a vaccine that can once again lead us back to the lives we all missed. Nigeria is also not an exception, it seems. One of Nigeria’s oldest pharmaceutical companies, Neimeth, has been one of the better performers in the stock market in the last one year. However, there is still so much the company needs to do to earn profits consistently. 

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READ MORE: Covid-19: List of pharmaceutical firms that will receive grants from the CBN

Neimeth’s recently released H1 2020 results show a jump of 19.4% in revenue from 976 million earned in H1 2019 to 1.165 billion in H1 2020. While this is impressive, its comparative Q2 results (Jan-March ‘ 20) show a drop in revenue of 25.4% from 748.8 million earned in Q2 2019, to the 568.7 million revenue in Q2 2020. In similar vein, while its profit-after-tax soared by 939% from 5.447 million in H1 2019 to 56.596 million in H1 2020, its quarter-by-quarter results show a drop of 118%. While there is a truth that some months are better performers than others, Neimeth’s extreme profit jump in the half-year results juxtaposed with the more-than-100% drop in the first quarter of this year, reveal wide-gap volatility in its earning potential. Its revenue breakdown attributes the quarter-by-quarter drop in revenue to a comparative drop in its ‘Animal Health’ product line by a whopping 897.42%. The ‘Pharmaceuticals’ line also only experienced a marginal jump of 2.57%. 

Full report here. 

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READ MORE: Nigeria records debt service to revenue ratio of 99% in first quarter of 2020.

Current & Post-Covid-19 Opportunities  

A 2017 PWC report had revealed that by 2020 the pharmaceutical market is expected to “more than double to $1.3 trillion. Mckinsey had also predicted that come 2026, Nigeria’s pharma market could reach $4 billion. The positive outlook of the industry is even more so, following the disclosure by the CBN to support critical sectors of the economy with 1.1 trillion intervention fund.  

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The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, had stated that about 1trillion of the fund would be used to support the local manufacturing sector while also boosting import substitution while the balance of 100 billion would be used to support the health authorities towards ensuring that laboratories, researchers and innovators are provided with the resources required to patent and produce vaccines and test kits in Nigeria. 

READ MORE: Airtel to acquire additional spectrum for $70 million 

While manufacturing a vaccine for the Covid-19 pandemic might be nothing short of wishful, the pandemic presents a global challenge that businesses in the healthcare industry could leverage. Through strategic R&D, it could uncover a range of solutions, particularly those that involve the infusion of locally-sourced raw materials.  

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In order for the company to attain sustainable growth, it needs to come up with structures and systems that are dependable, while also tightening loose ends. One of such loose ends is its exposure to credit risk. It’s Q2 2020 reports reveal value for lost trade receivables of N693.6 million carried forward from 2019. To this end, it notes that while its operations expose it to a number of financial risks, it has put in place a risk management programme to protect the company against the potential adverse effects of these financial risks. 

At the company’s last annual general meeting (AGM), the managing director, Matthew Azoji, had also spoken on the company’s efforts to gain a larger market share through its initiation of bold and gradual expansion strategies.  

The total revenue growth and profitability of the half-year period undoubtedly signals a potential in the company. However, we might have to wait for the company’s strategies to crystalize and attain a level of consistency for an extended period before reassessing the long-term lucrativeness of its stock or otherwise. That said, it certainly should be on your watchlist.  

Patricia
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