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Corporate News Roundup for the week ended March 17, 2018

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This Corporate News Compilation for the week ended March 17th, 2018 is brought to you by Bluechip Technology Ltd Nigeria.


1. If you live in Cross River and have been experiencing patchy network, then this might interest you. Last week, reports indicate that officials of the National Inland Waterways (NIWA) allegedly cut MTN Nigeria’s optic fibre cable in Cross River State over Right of Way (RoW).

Telco’s have for years faced difficulties securing ROW on States and Federal Roads affecting the ability to increase broadband penetration in the country. I remember, the GEJ Government agreed to a fee of N500/Linear Meter for ROW on Federal Government Roads. Apart from Lagos States, who adopted the same amount, most states are yet to do so.

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2. Last week ended without Teleology paying the $50 million deposits towards the acquisition of 9 Mobile.

The preferred bidder for the 4th largest Telco in Nigeria has 21 working days from February 21 to meet its payment obligations. Failure to do so will see the reserved bidder, Smile promoted as the preferred bidder. 21 working days from February 21, expires March 22nd on Thursday this week.

Smile has stepped up its rhetoric recently dishing our media with its Executive Director, Operations, Smile Communications, a subsidiary of Smile Telecoms Holdings, Ahmad Farroukh, claiming that they have what it takes to turn the company around in 90 days.

Smile’s bid was $300m compared to Teleology’s $500m bid. Industry analysts are worried that if it is taking Teleology this long to make a $50m deposits, they wonder whether it will be able to not just raise the balance $450m but raised the long-term patient capital required to actually turn 9 Mobile around.

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3. We reported here a few weeks back that Airtel was looking to embark on IPO for its African operations.

The company has struggled to break-even in Africa despite pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars in investments. According to latest reports, the IPO will be listed on the London Stock Exchange and could value the company at $1.1b.

Bharti Aitel is thought to have an enterprise valuation of $6.6 billion inclusive of debt of about $5.5 billion. The Indian owned company acquired its African Operations from Zain for a sum of $10.7 billion in 2010. At $6.6 billion, this is in the running for one of the largest erosion of value in Africa.


4. Last week, several social media accounts revealed a mass sack at Globacom, Nigeria’s second-largest mobile network.

In some unconfirmed social media reports that went viral, the mass sack affected mostly women who were married.

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However, reports from the company indicate this was not the case as both men and women were fired.

Important to note that Globacom outsources its human resources as nearly all staff are contracted to different outsourcing agencies registered to the company. It is believed that this was done to enable the company avoid unionism, easily disengage staff, discretely control payroll and reduced the burden of taxation.

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5. Just as the news of the mass sack was raging on SM, in faraway Kaduna, a Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), ordered Globacom to pay $69, 212.38 to its former Installation Technician, Souleymane Thera, for “unlawfully terminating his appointment.

The court also ordered Globacom to pay Souleymane the sum of $11k as 11 years vacation allowances.

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According to Thera, his pay was bumped up by Globacom from $42k to $50k in 2006 and then increased to $50k in 2006. A year later it was reviewed upwards to $70k. Initial background check suggests he is not a Nigerian, suggesting he was probably not employed under the same circumstances as his former Nigerian colleagues. Will be interesting to see if they pay him.


6. The tech community received another shock last week when Rocket Internet, the majority owners of Jumia, revealed it was exploring a stock market listing for its embattled online e-commerce store.

Jumia has been hemorrhaging cash for years as it struggled to eke out profits despite spending millions of dollars in attracting traffic to its website. Last year, Rocket Internet reported Jumia posted an Ebitda loss of EUR 104.5m.

It has so far reported another EUR 80.7m in the first 9 months ending September 2017. The company went on to report a loss after tax of EUR 112.2m in 2016, on the back of a revenue of EUR 84.4m. Jumia’s revenue decreased by 37% from EUR 134.6 million in 2015 and blamed this on “the continuing shift from eCommerce towards a marketplace business model, by the slowdown of the Nigerian economy and by currency devaluations in June 2016.”

As far as IPO listing go, companies must have at least showed a consistent growth in revenues over the years while posting profits before they are allowed to list. It is unclear whether Rocket will be listing Jumia on the German Stock Exchange.

Jumia has also refused to quit the POD model with the CEO recently quoted saying “It is counter-intuitive to force costumers to do anything against their best interest and especially, will as long as this market requires cash on delivery, we will continue offering it until sometime — hopefully in the nearest future when it is not needed.” When will they learn?

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7. The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) stepped up its activities last week when it sued The Young Shall Grow Motors (YSG) for alleged Copyright Infringement. COSON claims, YSG played songs of some of its members.

According to the report, one of the members of COSON, boarded a YSG bus at its Jibowu terminal and personally monitored the songs that were played. According to COSON some of the songs played are; “Sanko” by Timaya, “Igboro” by Famous, “Show you the money” by Wizkid, “Baby Hello” by Wande Coal, “Woju” by Kiss Daniel, “Ololufe” by Flavour and Chidinma, among other musical works.‏ Based on this, it is requesting that the court ask YSG to pay the sum of N85.8 million.

They further want 21 percent interest yearly, until the judgment is delivered, and further claims 12 percent interest until final liquidation of the sum. COSON also wants N20 million as both general and exemplary damages for the copyright infringement on the musical works of its members.

It is interesting to note that YSG did not dispute that it played the songs rather it held on to the fact that so long as the Legal Case that is supposed to determine whether COSON is the sole copyright collecting society in Nigeria is pending judgment by courts, COSON does not have a right to levy fees on it. Has anyone ever paid these fines?


8. Weststar Associate Limited, a distributor of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Nigeria announced that it was launching its first firefighting truck, Atego 1725, for the 2018 market. It appears the vehicle is targeted at organizations who have a full fledged Fire Fighting Department.

According to the Weststar, the Atego 1725 firefighting truck would be a “perfect match for organizations striving to achieve total quality in fire protection solutions, having been equipped with a strong and robust 6.4 litre inline, six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz engine.”

I am guessing the target market for these trucks are Multinationals, Oil and Gas Companies, Bank Head Offices, Factories, Breweries, Power Plants, Industrial Farms etc.


9. Cars45, initiated a Merchant Academy Program last week in Lagos. According to the company, the Academy is an avenue where registered auto merchants are briefed and trained on customer prospecting.

The training will last for a period of eight weeks, and upon completion, merchants are measured according to their performances and sales with the eligible ones being migrated to dealers at Zero cost.

They also claimed successful merchants just need zero capital for start-up, access to the LSETF loan scheme to the tune of N5m and training by a professional facilitator in the auto business field. Merchants will also enjoy a 1 year FREE dealership registration.


10. Delightful Toyshop, a toy distribution company in Nigeria announced that it has secured a distribution deal with American toy maker, Little Tikes.

The deal grants Delightful Toyshop the exclusive rights to distribute Little Tikes products in Nigeria.‏ One of the major products Little Tikes produces is the Cozy Coupe, which New York Times once rated “the world’s bestselling car” having sold millions since it was introduced.

At a time the toy car was selling 500k units per year. The company also makes and sells swing sets, trampolines, drone, race cars, slides, cars, infant toys and a range of indoor and outdoor toys. The CEO of Delightful Toyshop, Omotola Lawson used to work at Ocean Bank and was Head of Marketing between 2006 and 2010.


11. Hyundai reported last week that it won a bid to build LPG tanks in a contract worth N20.9 billion ($58 million) in Nigeria for Dangote Refinery.

The company said it won an order to build 15 bullet tanks for storing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for Dangote Oil Refining Company. The 15 Cylindrical tanks each span eight meters in diameter and 95 meters in length, which can hold 75,000 cubic meters of LPG.


12. So, despite the excise duties that will be placed on Alcohol, AB InBev is telling Nigerians that it will continue to make “affordable beer” in the country.

The company’s Marketing Manager, Mr. Arne Bruse disclosed that their customers will be able to buy some of its beer at between ₦100 to ₦150. The company is continuing with its regional beer strategy, where different brands are served for different regions of the country. For example, Hero is sold in the east while Trophy beer is sold in the western region of the country.

International Breweries, the Nigerian entity owned by AB InBev has spent billions investing in Brewery Plants in Nigeria and their strategy has been targeted at the value segment.

International Breweries still needs to content with Heineken owned Nigerian Breweries and Diageo owned Guinness. Interesting that the Nigeria market is a major battleground for 3 of the largest brewers in the world.


‏13. PZ Cussons UK issued a profit warning last week citing its UK and Nigerian operations as the reason for an expected drop in profits.

The company is expected to report earnings sometime in May. Focusing on Nigeria, PZ Cussons claimed it outlook for the year is bearish because of weakness in sales of its Milk business.

PZ major milk brand in Nigeria is the Nunu milk. Nunu faces stiff competition from the likes of Peak, Loya, Dano, Cowbell etc. and is struggling to keep margins up. This space has been intensely competitive over the years due to its susceptibility to consumer taste and pricing.

To beat the competition, milk makers have had to adapt to several innovations in packaging and distribution while keeping pricing and quantity relatively competitive.‏


14. Access Bank set off some alarm bells last week after it introduced a new credit card scheme for students of Unilag.

According to the bank, the credit card is available to students of Unilag as soon as they open an account with the bank. The credit card comes preloaded with N20,000 and is reloaded upon when it is used up. The bank did not provide details as to how and where it expects the students to get money to refund the credit or whether it has any security against such lending.

However, it did explain some key “benefits” of the scheme for the students which we found quite interesting. According to the bank’s Executive Director, Personal Banking, Victor Etuokwu, “We want to teach young people to be responsible borrowers. By giving them credit cards, we are teaching them how to plan their financial lives and spending,”

The bank’s Product Manager, Student Credit Card, Jite Omo-Uduoyo also chimed in. “We do not want to see you go broke. We have developed a card where you can borrow N20,000 and spend it anytime and payback later. I know that some students may not have enough money during examination periods, and at such times, the credit card can be of great help,”


15. Diamond Bank joined the AI race last week with the introduction of its own Chat Bot christened “Ada”. Recall UBA launched a chatbot a few weeks back which it named “Leo”.

Ada will help customers check their balance, transfer funds between Diamond bank accounts, and can also check stock prices, request for loans, and pay utility bills. The Bank has one of the best mobile banking Apps so it will be interesting to see how well this chatbot performs.


16. Heritage Bank Plc also joined the AI race with the launched of its own Chat Bot named “Octopus”.

It revealed that the new platform which it believes is a full-fledged digital bank connects all the customer’s bank accounts with the Debit Card details or account holder information. It also enables Banking Transfers, Buying airtime, Movie Tickets and Paying bills.


17. So, the Facebook AI machine is stepping up real fast following the inclusion of one of Nigeria’s largest banks in its FB messenger payment platform.

Last week, Zenith Bank confirmed that it has partnered with Facebook and Twitter to launch a Masterpass QR bot for Facebook messenger, that will enable Nigerian businesses set up digital accounts and accept QR payments. Ecobank also announced a similar partnership a few weeks back.

MasterCard launched its Facebook QR (Quick Response) application last April and a Facebook Developer Conference and has stepped up wider adoption of the product since then.

By signing up big Nigerian banks, the company is going on an offensive against smaller and more nimble Fintech firms that have introduced innovative contactless payments.‏


18. Standard Chartered Bank has also launched its first Digital Bank in Africa. They confirmed this in a press release last week.

The Pan African/International bank chose the Ivory Coast as the country where it will be piloting the digital bank. Standard Chartered has little retail presence in Nigeria where it is more associated with corporate and institutional banking.

In Ivory Coast, it is the 13th largest bank in the country and is also largely regarded as a corporate and institutional banking business. Perhaps they are also considering launching a digital bank for Nigeria as I don’t see how they want to catch the FUGAZ.


19. Not to be left out, Keystone Bank also announced last week that it was partnering with NIPOST to launch an agent banking initiative.

According to the bank, which once promised to deliver cars that will drive on water, said they are “partnering with NIPOST and i-OneC to offer financial inclusion services to un(der)banked Nigerians especially in the rural and less urban areas.”

The initiative which they named KeyServ (Keystone Agency Banking Services) offers services such as account opening, bills payment, cash-in, cash-out, ATM Services, fund transfers, balance enquiries, ATM cash withdrawals, mini statements and a whole lot more. Not sure who the competition is here though but it will be interesting to see how this pans out.‏


20. A Real Estate Firm located in Lagos, Practical Habitat, announced that it is developing an “affordable luxury” apartment in Lekki Phase 1 and just behind House on the Rock.

The company revealed that the Estate “Harbour Commons”, consists of 4 towers of 7 floors, 3 bedrooms all ensuite with an attached maid’s quarters and a penthouse.‏ The towers are serviced with a li and each apartment comes with 2 parking spaces.

The apartment sells for prices ranging between N35 million and N45 million, with discounts available for full payments.‏


21. The developers of Richmond Estate in Lekki, Haven Homes revealed that they are have commenced the construction of Phase 2 of the project.

According to Haven Homes, the first phase of the project attracted at least 10 A-list entertainment personalities in the country, including the company’s brand ambassadors 2 Face Idibia, Tiwa Savage, Ay Makun and Banky W, among others, adding that the estate had been nicknamed the ‘Beverly Hills’ of Lagos.

Nairametrics is Nigeria's top business news and financial analysis website. We focus on providing resources that help small businesses and retail investors make better investing decisions. Nairametrics is updated daily by a team of professionals. Post updated as "Nairametrics" are published by our Editorial Board.

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Podcast: How Covid-19 has birthed a new, vibrant digital economy

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Does Nigeria have a debt problem?, EMM podcasts

Join Adetayo Adesola, Lawretta Egba and Emmanuel Abara as they dicuss what sectors and industries will succeed and fail in a covid-19 world.

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Around the World

Air Peace to evacuate stranded Indians from Lagos to Kerala

A list of the passengers to be attended to has already been given and the flight shall depart Lagos on May 30, 2020, to Cochin Airport, Kerala.

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Air Peace signs deal with Brazillian aerospace company , Air Peace suspends flight operations over COVID-19

The management of Air Peace Nigeria has been contacted by the Indian High Commission in Nigeria to undertake the evacuation of stranded Indian nationals to Kerala, India. This was disclosed by the airline via its Twitter handle.

The airline explained that a list of passengers that would be attended to have been released and it has started reaching out to the Indians on Saturday.

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It stated, “A list of the passengers to be attended to has already been given to us and we have commenced reaching out to them. The flight shall depart Lagos on May 30, 2020, to Cochin Airport, Kerala.”

The flight is not free anyway. According to the airline, payments are expected immediately and they are Economy is $1.300 and Business class is tag $1,700. “You are equally allowed to pay in Naira at N460/$,” it added.

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However, some Indians in Nigeria has reacted with mixed feelings to the development on Twitter. While some were ready to join the flight back home, others called for the refund of ticket fare booked a week ago.

READ ALSO: Hope rises as Emefiele set to meet MTN, 4 banks today.

For instance, Jayant Khamesra requested for the refund ticket fare of N568, 100, which he paid for a flight from Lagos to Delhi.

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He said, “Please refund ticket fare P47812 LAGOS to DELHI. No show by Air Peace and it is been 1 week now, there has been no refund or confirmation of the same. Reference ALHN79 amount N568,100. I am sure a good world-class carrier like Air Peace won’t delay refunds purposely. Please act fast.

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Companies

Revenues of top African firms to drop by 10% amid COVID- PwC

In the meantime, CFOs are prioritising strategies aimed at protecting/keeping their customers and clients safe. They plan to make the best of the current situation by adopting various necessary strategies.

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COVID-19

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) of top African companies are expecting their companies’ revenue to decline significantly in 2020, no thanks to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is according to a new study that was released by PwC Africa earlier this week, a copy of which was emailed to Nairametrics.

The Details: Focus on the Revenue crisis

According to the report, which was titled PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey, the African CFOs, who were surveyed indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic will impact their business. About 89% of the respondents also believed that their companies’ revenues and profits would decline by 10% and 9%, respectively.

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These findings are coming just about the same time business leaders across the continent and beyond are beginning to adjust to the new normal caused by the pandemic. At the moment, company executives (including the CFOs), would have to make some tough decisions that will determine how they emerge from this difficult economic time. A part of the report said:

“As they manage their process, business leaders including the CFOs we’ve interviewed will be faced with a series of decisions that will have a wide-reaching impact: on their own financial future; on the well-being of their employees, customers and other stakeholders; and on the wellbeing of the society at large.”

It should be recalled that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had earlier projected that economic activities in Sub-Saharan Africa would decline by 1.6% in 2020. For crude oil-dependent countries like Nigeria, the IMF projected that the economy would contract by an average of 2.8%.

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READ MORE: Efficient Power: Addressing a Critical Element in Nigeria’s Agro-Industrial Revolution

Will things get back to normal?

According to the report, African CFOs who responded to the survey believed that their companies would eventually get back to normal. In precise terms, 38% of the respondents said their companies would bounce back within three months of the post-COVID-19 era. Unfortunately, nobody knows with certainty when the pandemic would end. This is because there is no cure/vaccine in the meantime, even as the virus continues to spread in parts of Africa.

In the meantime…

CFOs are helping their companies to adopt very strict cost containment strategies. At least, 85% of them said they are effecting cost containment strategies, even as 60% admitted that they are either deferring or completely canceling already planned investments. Others (49%) also noted that their companies are changing their financing plans.

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Focus on CAPEX

The PwC report went further to note that the CFOs, who typically favour cost containment strategies, disclosed that their companies are focusing on slashing most of their costs on capital expenditure (82%). Similarly, they are also cutting costs by reducing their workforce (52%) and operations (36%).

READ ALSO: FG owes DisCos over N500 billion in electricity Subsidy – PwC 

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“CFOs clearly favour a strategy of cost containment and of the 33 African respondents who said their company is pursuing this course of action, the majority are focusing on facilities and general capital expenditure (82%) followed by investment in the workforce (52%) and operations (36%).”

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In the meantime, CFOs said their companies are prioritising the following needs;

  • CFOs are focused on meeting stakeholders’ needs
  • Ensuring proper financial disclosures, especially bearing in mind that measures taken by companies to contain the pandemic have distorted economic activities, a situation that has implications for financial reporting
  • Community focus and social engagement also remain top priorities for many African companies. Recall that many companies in Nigeria rallied (under the aegis of CACOVID) to donate billions to FG in order to facilitate the fight against the virus
  • CFOs are also focusing on devising new supply chain options for their companies, bearing the disruptions that the pandemic had already caused in this regard
  • CFOs are also prioritising strategies aimed at protecting/keeping their customers and clients safe
  • Most importantly, they plan to make the best of the current situation by adopting various necessary strategies

READ ALSO: A New Wave: Where to Invest in H2 2020

You may download and read the full report by clicking here.

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