Summary of the top business, economic and political news in Nigeria today.
- The Federal Government is hiring the United States technology giants such as Oracle Corporation and Microsoft Corporation as it steps up efforts to save costs and fight corruption. Other companies interested in taking on more work in Nigeria include IBM Corporation and Sweden’s Ericsson AB, the Managing Director of government-owned Galaxy Backbone, which provides technology services to the government, Yusuf Kazaure, said. Link
- The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), according to its Director General, Alex Okoh, is working with core investors in some privatised enterprises sold by deferred public offering to ensure they sell at least 20 percent of such entities to the market through public listing. Okoh said that Public listings remain a strategic objective of the reform and privatisation programme of the Federal Government. Link
- The Federal Government said on Tuesday that it borrowed N3.57tn between June 2015 and March 2017 to finance budget deficits. Link
- Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) paid N4 billion to 12,464 disengaged workers in the third quarter of last year, a Quarterly Summary Report of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), has shown. The breakdown of the report showed that the private sector accounted for 95.43 per cent, which amounted to 173,578 of the disengaged workers while the public sector accounted for 4.57 per cent, which is 8,305 workers. Link
- Chief Financial Officers, Heads of Finance and Tax Managers in some of the leading organisations across major industry groups in Nigeria have described the style of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, in assessment of additional tax liabilities as aggressive. Link
- The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the nation recorded a growth rate of 51.1 per cent in employment level last month (June). According to a newly released employment index report which covers the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sub-sectors, the index in June 2017 stood at 51.1 and 53.4 points respectively, indicating growth rate in employment level for the second consecutive month. Link
- The federal government has in response to what it views as unsatisfactory general performance of operators in the sugar production sector in recent times, introduced new guidelines as well as putting in place benchmarks for raw sugar allocation. Under the new guideline, the Executive Secretary of NSDC, Dr. Latif Busari said that, operators would be required to submit their requests for quota sugar allocation for the following year in December of the preceding year and that the year 2017 allocation shall be the last in which sugar allocation shall be based on the old criteria including market/share refinery capacity. Link
- Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, has said that the National Action Plan, NAP-60 Plan, which major objective is to promote the ease of doing business in the country would save Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, in the country about N2.6 billion in registration cost annually. Link
- International oil companies (IOCs) operating in the country will continue to hold back on the divestment of onshore assets until after the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that governs fiscal terms, and the expiration of some of the joint venture onshore assets in 2019. A former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia has also hinted that the asset disposals will continue in the foreseeable future, with up to $12 billion of the portfolio of oil multinationals potentially up for grabs. Link
- Investors have traded a total of N54.75 trillion in the fixed income and currency market between January and May 2017. Of the transactions, N9.49 trillion was exchanged in the month of May alone, which was 7.9 per cent higher than the N8.79trillion traded in April. According to the FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, the month-on-month growth was primarily driven by increased trading activities experienced in the FX (Spot) and Repurchase Agreements (Repos)/Buy-Backs product categories. Link
- The Amukpe Escravos Pipeline Project (AEPP) belonging to Pan Ocean Oil Corporation, an indigenous exploration and production company in Nigeria’s upstream oil sector, is expected to come on stream before the end of 2017. Link
- The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja said it has provided N40 billion to settle reconciled outstanding electricity bills of its ministries and agencies. Link
- The Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), says Nigeria can save N2 trillion from the importation of wheat, if appropriate measures are put in place to boost cassava cultivation. Link
- A drug trafficking syndicate generate $320 billion, approximately N115.2trillion annually, the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said yesterday. This is just as the agency said it arrested a total of 77,558 persons for drug trafficking between 2015 and last year. Link
- Nigeria’s cabinet has approved a National Gas Policy that aims to reduce the country’s dependence on crude oil by increasing gas exploration and facilities, the oil ministry said in a statement. The 100-page National Gas Policy seeks to set up a single independent petroleum regulator. It also aims to separate upstream from midstream operations and to separate gas infrastructure ownership and operations from gas trading, the oil ministry said. Link
- Nigeria plans to raise between 360 billion naira and 450 billion naira ($1.18 bln-$1.48 bln) in sovereign bonds maturing between five and 20 years in the third quarter, the Debt Management Office (DMO) said on Wednesday. The debt office added it would auction 90-120 billion naira in the five-year note and 135-165 billion in the 10-year and 20-year debt between July and September. Link
- ARM Life Plc, a life insurance company quoted on the NASD Plc, has opened application list for its N1 billion rights issue. It urged shareholders to subscribe for their rights. The application list, which opened June 30 would close August 9. ARM Life is offering about 1.929 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each to its shareholders at a price of 52 kobo per share. Link
- Following recurrent cases of accidents and deaths among members of all registered cooperative societies in the state, the Lagos State Government, has appointed a consortium of seven insurance companies to mitigate losses that they might incur. Special Adviser on Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives, Mr. Benjamin Olabinjo said the insurance companies include STACO Insurance Plc, Industrial and General Insurance Company Plc, UBA Metropolitan Life Insurance Ltd and Capital Express Assurance Limited, AIICO Insurance Company Plc, ARM Life Plc and Cornerstone Insurance Plc, with the STACO Insurance Plc as the lead underwriter. Link
- The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said that it is impossible for the corporation to bring down the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol due to the high demand of the product in the country. Link
- Addax Petroleum has agreed to pay 31 million Swiss francs ($32 million) to settle charges of suspected bribery of foreign officials, the Geneva prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday. Prosecutors for the Swiss canton of Geneva investigated the company, whose chief executive officer and legal director were also charged, over several tens of millions of dollars in payments to a company and several lawyers in Nigeria. A four-month investigation found the payments were not sufficiently documented and doubts remained on their legality, but no criminal intent was established, the Geneva prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Link
- The Transmission Company of Nigeria will complete over 200 projects to improve power supply to the distribution companies, Mr Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, said on Wednesday. Link
- Following the strategic partnership earlier sealed between Interswitch, Africa’s leading integrated payments and transaction switching company and EVSL, developers of FuelVoucher in 2015, the distribution network of the electronic fuel purchasing solution has been further broadened considerably in further partnership with three of the leading downstream oil marketing firms, OVH Energy Marketing, Forte Oil & RainOil in Lagos. Link
- Ashaka Cement Plc has voluntarily delisted from the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) for violation of the exchange free float deficiency provision of 20 per cent. Link
- The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Joseph Nnanna, has emerged as the new Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, and will henceforth lead the company’s new Board of Directors. Also appointed to the board of Etisalat Nigeria are Mr. Oluseyi Bickersteth, Mr. Ken Igbokwe, Mr. Boye Olusanya and Mrs. Funke Ighodaro. While Bickersteth and Igbokwe will act as non-executive directors, Olusanya assumes office as the Chief Executive Officer to replace Mr. Matthew Willsher; and Ighodaro takes over from Mr. Olawole Obasunloye as the Chief Finance Officer. Etisalat Nigeria said in statement that Willsher was retained as an adviser to the new CEO “till his contract with the company runs out in December 2017.” Link
- Etisalat, in partnership with Support Microfinance Bank has simplified access to loans through the launch of its new service, KwikCash. The service, which is currently available only on the Etisalat network, was developed for subscribers who have bank accounts and need to access cash loans to settle urgent financial needs. It enables customers to get instant loans with ease using their mobile phones. Link
- The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, says the cost of producing crude oil in Nigeria was reduced by $5 dollars within the last one year. The Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, said on Tuesday in a podcast to the corporation’s staff to mark his one year in office adding that the company was able to lower its production/operating costs from $27 per barrel to $22. Link
- A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered an interim forfeiture of the sums of N500m and $500,000 said to have been looted from the Paris Club refunds made by the Federal Government in favour of the 36 states of the federation. The sums of money, said to have been recovered from two firms, First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited, and Gosh Projects Limited, were allegedly linked to Governor of Zamfara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari. Link
UACN’s major shareholder sells substantial shares
This is coming a few days after UAC Nigeria Plc announced a deal to divest 51% of its shares in UPDC.
One of the 3 major shareholders of UAC Nigeria Plc (UACN), Blakeney LLP, has substantially reduced its stakes in the conglomerate with the sale of 80 million additional shares.
This was disclosed in a notification that was sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) by UAC Nigeria Plc. The notification was signed by the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Godwin Samuel.
Note that this is coming a few days after UAC Nigeria Plc announced a deal to divest 51% of its shares in UACN Petroleum Development Company (UPDC) to Custodian Investment Plc.
An analysis of this current sales and reduction of its stake shows that Blakeney LLP reduced its shareholding in the conglomerate through a deal on August 5, at a price of N5.75 per share. A further breakdown of the transactions shows that the 80,000,000 units were sold at N5.75 amounting to N460 million in purchase consideration.
Back Story: It can be recalled that UACN had earlier sent notifications to the NSE announcing sales of 75 million shares by Blakeney between the months of April and June
- In an earlier notification sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange and other stakeholders in February 2019, UAC of Nigeria Plc announced the emergence of three major shareholders with more than 5% stake in the company. The three major shareholders include Themis Capital Management (8.08%), Stanbic IBTC Nominees Limited (7.27%), Blakeney GP 111 Ltd (7.55%).
- Nigeria’s oldest conglomerate has gone through some major restructuring in recent times following investments by these core investors and other major shareholders. In September 2019, UACN announced the outright dissolution of its interest and restructuring of UAC Property Development Company (UPDC) with the transfer of its interest directly to the shareholders.
- Over the years, UACN has transformed from a very large conglomerate with footprints in different sectors of the economy to a leaner organization with interest in Manufacturing, Food & Beverage, Logistics, Agro-allied Industry, Paints and Chemicals.
- Blakeney Management is one of the oldest and largest institutional investors in Africa and the Middle East. They are based in London and have been managing funds since 1995 for some of the largest institutions in the world.
AXA Mansard insurance divests from AXA Mansard pension as new owner emerges
This disclosure was made in a notification that was sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
AXA Mansard Insurance Plc has announced its divestment from its subsidiary, AXA Mansard Pension Limited, after agreeing to sell its stake to Eustacia Limited, a member of the Verod Group.
This is part of the insurance firm’s plan to focus on and grow its insurance businesses across all parts of the country.
This disclosure was made in a notification that was sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on August 8, 2020, by AXA Mansard Insurance Plc and signed by its Company Secretary, Mrs Omowunmi Mabel Adewusi.
AXA Mansard Insurance disclosed that Eustacia Limited was selected as the preferred bidder, after the completion of a bid process. AXA Mansard along with the minority shareholder agreed to sell the entire issued ordinary share capital of AXA Mansard Pensions comprising of 60% shareholding (2,067,672,000 shares) held by AXA Mansard Insurance Plc and 40% shareholding (1,378,448,000 shares) held by the minority shareholder.
The statement from AXA Mansard Insurance reads, ‘’AXA Mansard Insurance Plc announces the divestment from its subsidiary, AXA Mansard Pensions Limited. After obtaining the Shareholder’s approval at the Company’s Extra-Ordinary General Meeting held on the 13th of February 2020, the Company commenced the process of divestment by appointing Messer Rand Merchant Bank as the Financial Advisers while Aluko & Oyebode acted as the Legal Advisers on the transaction.’’
‘’Upon completion of a bid process, Eustacia Limited (a member of the Verod Group) was selected as the preferred bidder. The Company along with the minority Shareholder entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Eustacia Limited to divest the entire issued ordinary share capital of AXA Mansard Pensions comprising of 60% shareholding (2,067,672,000 shares) held by AXA Mansard Insurance Plc and 40% shareholding (1,378,448,000 shares) held by the minority shareholder.’’
The insurance firm, also in its statement said that the divestment has received letters of no objection from the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).
It should be noted that the completion of the divestment is, however, subject to the receipt of the final approval of the National Pension Commission.
In his reaction, the CEO of AXA Mansard Insurance Plc, Kunle Ahmed, said that this transaction marks a new step in the insurance firm’s broader strategy to focus on and grow their life, property & casualty and health businesses across all its geographies. He said that the AXA Group sees great potential in the Nigerian insurance market and believes they are ideally placed to capture these opportunities due to its market leadership position.
On his part, the CEO of AXA Mansard Pension Limited said that they are confident about Verod’s strong commitment to providing the company with the requisite support to actualize their promise to its clients and stakeholders.
A partner at Verod Group, the new owners, Eric Idiahi, said, ‘’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.’’
Nairametrics reported early this year that AXA Mansard Insurance Plc announced that its shareholders have approved the company’s plan to sell its pension management subsidiary, AXA Mansard Pensions Ltd and some undisclosed real estate investments.
Africa’s largest telecoms firm, MTN, to divest from its Middle East operations
The MTN Group is in advanced talks to sell its stake in MTN Syria to the minority shareholder.
Africa’s largest telecoms firm, the MTN Group, has announced its plans to exit the Middle East. This is part of the wireless carrier’s strategic plan to shift focus entirely to its home continent, Africa.
The mobile operator said that as part of its medium-term strategy, it will be leaving the Middle East, starting with the sales of its 75% stake in MTN Syria. Overly reduced revenue from war-torn Syria and the complex nature of the operating environment in the country are part of the reasons MTN is divesting.
MTN’s Chief Executive Officer, Rob Shuter, noted during a conference call with reporters, that “the Middle East environment is becoming increasingly complex and it contributes less to the group’s earnings.’’
Shuter disclosed that the disposals in the Middle East region will be done in a phased manner, with its 3 consolidated subsidiaries in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria earmarked to be sold first. These markets only contribute about 4% to the group’s earnings before interest, depreciation, taxation, and amortization.
The MTN Group is in advanced talks to sell its stake in MTN Syria to the minority shareholder, TeleInvest, who has 25% stake in the firm, according to the CEO. He believes that the telecoms firm is better served to focus on its Pan-African strategy and simplify its portfolio by leaving the Middle East region in an orderly manner.
In the medium term, the group will also dispose of its 49% stake in MTN Irancell, one of its largest markets.
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The South African firm plans to exit the entire portfolio in time, which will then leave it with 17 subsidiaries in Africa.
Just yesterday, Nairametrics reported about MTN’s plan to sell its stake in Jumia Technologies. MTN will also be divesting from telecommunications infrastructure firm, IHS Towers. The divestments from Jumia and IHS Towers were informed by the decision to raise funds in order to reduce MTN’s debts. It will also help the company to refocus its operations.