This Corporate News Compilation for the week ended December 23rd, 2017 is brought to you by Bluechip Technology Ltd Nigeria.
- The guys at Coollink launched their Satellite Broadband into Nigeria market last week. The product is called Asta (which they say means Star in Danish). According to them, Asta is a satellite service delivered through a Ka-Band High-Throughput Satellite (HTS). Unlike traditional satellites which have a single beam to cover entire continents and regions, with the introduction of multiple spot beams and frequency reuse. We looked up their pricing and boy is it expensive. An unlimited package (which is usually my favourite) goes for N90k for 2mbps and N130k for 3mbps. This compares to Smile, which offers the Smile Unlimited Lite for N10k for 2mbps. The Asta also comes with a satellite dish which cost between N90k and N140k, depending on your location (state). There is also a shipping fee of between N20k and N70k. This product is clearly not for poor people.
- Farm Crowdy, the online app that helps connect farmers reported that it raised $1 million in seed funding. We talked about them here some weeks back.
- Language learning firm, Laclic Services launched a local software app that teaches users both local and foreign languages. The app was launched last week in Lagos. Deputy MD of the company, Dupe Sani the solution would enable people learn foreign languages with ease, and at their own time and pace, without employing a language teacher. “Nigerians that do business in foreign lands where English is not the general language, and foreigners who do not understand English, but run businesses in Nigeria, will find the solution to be of great importance,” Sani She also added that Laclic has introduced four range of products that would enhance businesses across board. Looks like an interesting tool.
- Ever heard of Beeptool? This little known Nigerian company reportedly helped Sky UK shares rise after it announced a $30 million to use its nanosatellite technology for the next five years. Beeptool is a Nigerian company that offers a mobile app that users can use to communicate via calls, chats and share files. It’s a bit like WeChat, Whatsapp and Skype rolled up into one. The amazing thing is that it is a Nigerian app. The company was founded by Nigerian computer scientist John Enoh in 2014 and launched the app the same year. The app has about 10k downloads in the Google Play Store and a rating of 3.9. Have you used this app before?
- Reports emanated last week that Nigeria’s Globacom did not get its license renewed last week by the telecommunications regulator in Benin Republic, Autorite De Regulation Des Communications Électroniques Et De La Poste (ARCEP). Media reports suggest this was due to a dispute between the company and the regulator over new conditions. One of the areas of disagreement was increase in the cost of the license. Globacom is the 4th largest network in the country with 1,614,983 customers (per 2016 figures).
- FBNH, the holding company for First Bank announced that the renaming of all its entities under its Merchant Banking and Asset Management group. These are FBNQuest Merchant Bank, FBNQuest Asset Management, FBNQuest Securities; FBNQuest Capital, FBNQuest Trustees and FBNQuest Funds. This renaming started in November 2015 when it announced that the companies will now operate under the same brand identity. Apparently, the ‘Quest’ in the FBN Quest refers to First Bank’s journey from over 120 years ago.
- Resort Savings and Loans, a Mortgage Bank announced that it has secured about N8 billion from a new investor. The bank has had board related issues for years and was recently suspended from trading its stock by the Nigerian Stock Exchange. They were also investigated last year by the consumer protection council for its failure to pay back deposits made by consumers, as well as its alleged diversion of loans disbursed to mortgage beneficiaries by FMBN. They also announced a rash of board changes in October after it elected Senator Sunday Olawale Fajinmi, a non-executive director as chairman to replace Francis Adefarati, while Olayemi Rabiu, its former CFO was appointed in place of Abimbola Olayinka, the former MD/CEO.
- The controversial dispute between Innoson Group and GTB took a nasty turn last week after social media ‘influencers’ turned it into an ethnic affair. This was as the CEO of the company, Innocent Chukwuma was arrested by the EFCC and later released. However, as the arguments raged on social media, Innosson announced a withdrawal of its fundamental right enforcement suit filed against the EFCC, GTB, IG of Police and AGF. When this story eventually ends, there will only be one winner. Lawyers
- There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel in the land dispute between the Dangote Group and the communities of Karreh, Gajagaja, Tudun Gaya. Kwadaro, kacita and Ganiwa all in Kubau Local Government in Kaduna State Members of the community have now agreed to dialogue with Dangote Group. The land is expected to be the site for the proposed Dangote Tomato Factory. Dangote also has a Tomato Factory in Kadawa Kano State and shut down late 2016 due to tomato shortages. It reopened in January 2017 and has been in operation since then. Dangote claimed they decided to site another plant in Kaduna because members of the community are good in tomato farming. Members of the community had opposed the idea of siting the plant in their area, because they were afraid it would deprive them of their farmlands which they inherited from their forefathers.
- The BPE announced last week that it has now approved the sale of the remaining 5 mines owned by the FG. The National Council for Privatisation approved the sale of Naraguta Bricks and Clay Company to University of Jos at the offer price of N45 million and Bricks and Clay Company to Gargam International Services Ltd at the bid price of N63 million. NIMCO Terrazo Company Ltd was sold to Alheri (JJ) Nigeria Ltd at the offer price of N15.297 million, Gano Quarry to A.A Y International Mining Company Ltd at the bid price of N21.7 million and Kujama Quarry to Yusuf Mariri Trading Company Ltd at the bid offer of N20.550 million. I haven’t seen the terms of these deals but for these sort of low valuations it appears these guys are either buying mining rights or buying a shell company with just debts or both. I doubt the company has landed assets
- We’ve heard of alternative energy such as Solar as the probable solution to Nigeria’s energy crisis. However, a company, Suxe International Ltd has pledged to end the crisis through the conversion of power from bamboo. According to the company’s CEO, Trevor David Smith, “We intend to generate power from bamboo and sell to the Nigeria people at a cheaper rate. We intend to uplift the country and the communities away from current power crisis. We intend establishing 40 power stations in Nigeria.” The company claims it will “begin” by January 2018 and is asking for help to secure land. Suxe is based in the UK and has been in existence for over 50 years. The company manufactures power plants and parts for power stations. They also believe in a decentralized grid system and prefer to manufacture modular power stations. This bore hole model is gaining major grounds.
- Savannah Petroleum announced changes to its terms for the acquisition of Seven Energy. The company said it will now pay USD42.5 million in cash and USD109.5 million in newly issued Savannah shares to the holders of Seven’s loan notes, compared to the previous planned payments of USD87.5 million and USD52.5 million respectively. Savannah said it intends to raise up to USD125 million in a placing of shares at an expected price of 35 pence per share. It hopes to use the money to fund the acquisition. Seven Energy, had earlier in the year defaulted on a $445 million loan taken from a consortium of banks led by Ecobank, FCMB, and Union Bank in 2015 to provide working capital for Accugas, one of its subsidiaries. Thus setting the stage for a legal battle between its creditors. It claimed its troubles started after the closure of the Forcados export terminal which leads to a loss of cash flow, and power stations that were yet to pay for gas it had supplied. Seven Energy has also been embroiled in corruption scandals mainly because of its association with Kola Aluko. Kola Aluko owned shares in Seven Energy and was an ex director of the company.
- British Oil and Gas firm, Eland announced that it has secured an extension of its banking facility giving it the funding it requires for its drilling programme in Nigeria. The company has replaced an existing $35 million deal with Standard Chartered Bank with a $40 million agreement with a syndicate of lenders. The Mauritius Commercial Bank and Mercuria Energy Trading have joined Standard Chartered in providing the lending to the firm. Mecuria is also an investor in Forte Oil Plc. Eland Oil and Gas was founded by ex Addax Execs in Nigeria and also has a Nigerian Henry Obi on its Board. Henry represents Helios Partners.
- Nigeria’s real estate company, Primewaterview announced that it has received the proceeds of the second drawdown of $5 million from the $2-billion financing facility previously committed by Milost Global Inc., a U.S. private equity firm. It says it also expects to receive additional funds from Milost Global Inc for the development of the project pipeline at the Company. The Company said it intends to use the $5m to cover long – term working capital in Nigeria and also fund the completion of the New Head Office which is already 60 % complete. Looking at the company’s completed and ongoing projects, it appears they focus on luxury real estate in Ikoyi, VI and Lekki. ICYDK, the company was founded by its Chairman and CEO, Prince Adetunji Ogunwisi who is also the elder brother to the current Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi. He contested and lost his younger brother.
- Staying with Real Estate, Femab Properties Limited, a Nigerian based Real Estate development & Investment Company also announced that it received the proceeds of the initial drawdown to a total tune of $10 million from Milost Global Inc. The fund which was drawn down is provided as a combination of debt and equity. $200 million will be equity finance, while $300 million will be debt. They claim the funds will immediately be deployed to the completion of the ongoing projects and also to set up IT sophisticated infrastructure in order to drive their real estate solution. According to them the solution which they have decided to take to the “academic environment” is by “delivering comfortable accommodation to students in tertiary institutions with a view to growing shareholder value”. Femab Properties also reported earlier that it has entered into multiple Build, Operate and Transfer concession agreements with some select public and private Nigerian universities for periods ranging from 25 to 30 years. Both transactions had Palewater Advisory Group Inc, a South African firm as advisors. A Nigerian firm, Mayo BV was also listed as Advisors. Femab CEO is Abiodun Aguda. Looks like these are the go to guys for real estate funding focused on housing solutions.
- Spar recently opened a new branch at Tejuosho catering for customers who reside in Ojuelegba, Yaba, Surulere, Sabo, Akoka. This brings to 12, the number of supermarket Spar currently has in Nigeria. The company’s has in the last few years strategically opened Super markets in key locations in key cities in the country as it bids to outwit Shoprite. Interestingly, Spars model is different from Shoprite. While Shoprite relies on its strength an anchor tenant for mall owners, Spar opens at its own stores at designated locations. I guess the model makes them more nimble and less reliant on developers to open new branches. They can also build to accommodate their style. SPAR, a Dutch multinational retail chain has global presence in 44 countries across 4 continents with over 12,500 stores.
- The Coca-Cola company of Nigeria has launched Schweppes Novida Pineapple. They claim Schweppes Novida is a new sophisticated fruit flavoured light malt non-alcoholic and is available in a pineapple flavour 35cl PET bottle. Coca Cola is looking like the company to beat in this beverage market. They appear to have the funds, structure, management to win this market for good. It also appears that they are executing well.
- Ogun State will not carry last. They have also launched their own rice last week calling it Mitros Rice. The rice is Ofada and will retail for N11, 500 and packaged in 50KG bags. They claim the rice was produced was produced at Egua land in Yewa South Local Government Area of the state, but the processing and packaging facilities are sited in Asero area of Abeokuta, the state capital. The rice is produced by Mitros Rice Mill in Ogun State. The rice farmers who sell to the mill got funding from CBN at 5% interest rate. How many states do we have now selling rice? Some conspiracy theorist said for state Governors to be this interested in rice, he suspects major foul play. He claims the involvement of CBN suggest major “deals” are been struck. “After there is no subsidy without scam” Well, at least some states are constructing rice mills while others are busy constructing statues. I didn’t mention any state.
UBA denies N41 billion NITEL fraud allegations
United Bank for Africa (UBA) has described the alleged N41 billion fraud levied against its Chairman, Mr Tony Elumelu, as untrue, misleading, malicious, and libellous.
The Management of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) has described the alleged N41 billion fraud levied against its Chairman, Mr. Tony Elumelu, as untrue, misleading, malicious, and libellous, and said that it should be disregarded in its entirety.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the bank to the Nigerian Stock Exchange and signed by the company’s secretary, Bili Odum, on Friday. Media reports in some online blogs alleged the former CEO of the bank was indicted” prompting the bank to issue a denial via a press release.
In the press release stated Statement To The Nigerian Stock Exchange on False Reports in the Media, the bank stated that “it has set in motion all appropriate legal actions to ensure that the misleading reports are retracted and the perpetrators held accountable for their actions”.
It also stated that it will “continue to conduct its business in line with global best corporate governance practices, extant laws, and regulations,” as it has done in over 70 years of operations.
Back story: The counsel to NITEL, J.U Ayofu petitioned the Senate Committee Chairman on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions about the alleged fraud. The committee chairman, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, claimed the ”the N41billion alleged fraud was committed against the defunct Telecommunications company and National Carrier, NITEL”
They alleged the amount was withdrawn “systematically from NITEL for nine years” under the leadership of the bank.
Senate Committee Chairman on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Mr. Ayo Akinyelure, reportedly said, “The N41 billion alleged fraud was committed against the defunct telecommunications company and national carrier, NITEL.
According to the reports, in view of this, the senate committee has summoned the Group Managing Director/CEO of UBA, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, to appear before it on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
UBA denies wrongdoing
Despite the allegations, the Management of the Bank denied all the allegations and will use all legal means to clear its name. “We have set in motion all appropriate legal actions to ensure that the misleading reports are retracted and the perpetrators held accountable for their actions.”
UBA’s 2020 second-quarter result is expected to be released next week. The market appears to have shrugged off the allegations as thee company’s share price closed at N6.2 gaining 3.3% week on week.
Airtel Africa’s profit up 12.9%, customer base reaches 111.5 million
Airtel Africa had risen in customers’ base by 11.8% to 111.5 million in spite of the pandemic.
Airtel Africa on Friday posted an impressive Q1 ending June 2020 financial statement with an operating profit of $210 million up by 12.9%which showed a 111.5 rise in customers’ base of 11.8% to 111.5 million in spite of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic. The Company also reported an operating profit of $210 million up by 12.9%.
Airtel reports its year end March 31st 2020.
Key highlights of Airtel Africa Q1 2020 include;
- Customer base grew by 11.8% to 111.5 million.
- Revenue increased by 6.9% to $851m, with constant currency revenue growth of 13.0%
- Constant currency revenue growth was recorded across all key business segments, with voice revenue up by 2.2%, data by 35.7%, and mobile money by 26.3%.
- Underlying EBITDA increased by 7.9% to $375m, with constant currency growth of 14.6%
- The reported underlying EBITDA margin was 44.1%, up by 40 bps.
- Operating profit increased by 12.9% to $210m, an increase of 21.5% in constant currency
- Free cash flow was $96m compared to $62m in the same period last year.
- Earnings per share (EPS) before exceptional items was $1.0 cents and basic EPS was $1.1 cents.
- Net debt to underlying EBITDA was 2.2x, compared to 3.0x in June 2019.
Raghunath Mandava, chief executive officer, Airtel Africa explained the company’s business was to survive the COVID-19 pandemic amid all odds. He said;
“During the last quarter, our business was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as restrictions on movements of people and ways of socializing were introduced to contain the spread of infection. In these unprecedented times, we have worked with governments, regulators, partners, and suppliers to keep customers and businesses connected as well as supporting the economies and communities.
“We focused on expanding and maintaining our network to ensure it could cope with increasing demand, we kept our distribution up and running by increasing the penetration of digital recharges and stock levels, and we expanded our home broadband solutions to ensure customers could work and access entertainment remotely.”
Raghunath Mandava, chief executive officer, Airtel Africa spoke about growing concerns on the resurgence of COVID-19, but he was optimistic based on Airtel Africa’s present result and investment. He continued by saying ;
“The outlook remains uncertain, particularly regarding a so-called potential second wave of infections and the actions governments will decide to take in that event. However, these results are further evidence of the growth opportunities our markets offer and the effectiveness of our strategy to focus on winning customers, investing in our network and expanding our voice, data and mobile money businesses.”
The stock is presently trading at N348 with a market capitalization of N1.308 trillion, dividend yield at 3.38%, price/earnings ratio at 10.63 at the time this report was drafted.
MTN expands scope of tower service, targets rural connectivity
The development would also improve cost for future technology evolution and backhaul in the network.
MTN Nigeria Communications Plc has reached an agreement with Global Independent Connect Limited, INT Towers Limited and IHS Towers Limited to expand the scope of their current service agreements, amend the currency conversion provision for tower services.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the telecommunication firm and published on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman, explained that the company is pleased to agree to the mutually beneficial update to its agreements with IHS, adding that the changes would provide clarity for both parties on foreign exchange denomination with Naira payments, while also extending the telco’s relationship into key new areas.
What it means: With the concluded renegotiation of certain terms of its tower agreements, the telco giant can now increase focus on rural connectivity and fibre deployment. The development would also improve cost for future technology evolution and backhaul in the network, which will bear fruit in the longer term while agreeing to move the reference rate for conversions to Naira from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s official rate to the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate (NAFEX).
Moolman said, “I am particularly excited about the partnership to expand fibre connectivity and deliver accelerated rural telephony. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the huge importance of digital infrastructure, and these agreements enable us to enhance fibre networks, while rapidly connecting those Nigerians in rural areas that are currently unable to access telecommunications services.”
In 2014, MTN Nigeria took a strategic decision to sell its passive infrastructure (including towers) and focus on its core business. Although the company retains a small number of towers, it currently has agreements in place with a number of tower providers across the country, including IHS.