The latest debt data released by the Debt Management Office (DMO) shows that the top ten (10) states in Nigeria have accumulated debt profiles of above N100 billion each. Collectively, these highly indebted states owe both external and domestic debt to the tune of N2.74 trillion.
The recent surge in the debt profiles of both the Federal and State Governments has caused new concerns for policymakers. Although debt is important for economic growth, the size of the debt is important for sustainability.
According to the DMO’s debt data, these states control 52% of the entire debts accruable to all the 36 states. Specifically, the 10 states owe N2.74 trillion, out of N5.27 trillion states’ debt stock.
Top N100 billion debtors’ club
In order to provide detailed insights into the revenue-debt challenges of the top 10 states that have accumulated over N100 billion debt stock each, a look into the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) also becomes important. A quick check into the most recent IGR data shows that all 36 states including the FCT generated N1.16 trillion in 2018.
- Lagos State: Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos, leads the debtors’ club, as its total debt stands at N980 billion. Specifically, the domestic debt of Lagos as at the end of March 2019 was estimated at N542 billion. Without a doubt, the state is Nigeria’s trade centre, with the Apapa seaport that controls almost 90% of goods that flow out of the country.
However, on the revenue side, the recent IGR data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that Lagos State generated the sum of N382 billion in 2018. This is the biggest across states, but it only covers 70% of domestic debt only.
- Rivers State: Rivers is Nigeria’s second most indebted state. The state is one of Nigeria’s major oil-producing states and scoops monthly 13% derivation from the Federal Government.
Rivers State’s total debt stands at N249 billion, while domestic debt is biggest at N225.5 billion. On the other hand, the state generated N112 billion IGR in 2018. Measuring its debt against revenue, it means that the state’s revenue can only pay 49.9% of the huge domestic debt, while the external debt is hanging.
- Delta State: Delta State is third on the list, with an estimated N242 billion, out of which domestic debt gulps N223 billion. Delta is equally an oil-producing state with a 13% monthly derivation allocation and several international oil corporations.
More worrying statistics are derived when comparing the state’s debt stock to its IGR. Basically, Delta State’s reported IGR in the year 2018 was put at N58 billion. This means that the state’s IGR represents only 26% of its domestic debt only.
- Cross River: The state’s debt was estimated at N225 billion in March 2019. Cross River generated N17 billion IGR in 2018, and this puts the state’s revenue at 10% of N167 billion domestic debt.
- Akwa-Ibom: The total domestic debt owed by the State as of March 2019 was N199 Billion. In total, Akwa-Ibom owes N213 billion. This is another oil-producing state, with billions received monthly from the Federal Government.
Comparing the state’s total debt stock against its IGR of N24 billion, shows that the state’s annual IGR is just 12% of domestic debt accrued.
- Osun State: Osun State’s total domestic debt as of March 2019 was estimated at N147 billion. Compared with the state’s IGR of N10 billion, it means that Osun state’s IGR only covers 7% of the domestic debt owed. In total, Osun State owes a total debt of N178 billion to rank 6th on the list.
- Federal Capital Territory (FCT): The FCT is the 7th most indebted state in Nigeria. As at the end of March 2019, the domestic debt accruable to the state was estimated at N193 billion. On the other hand, IGR generated in the year 2018 was N65 billion. This implies that FCT’s revenue covers just 40% of its domestic debt. The total domestic and external debt owed by the federal capital stands at N173 billion.
- Edo State: This is the 8th State with the biggest debt accumulated in the country. Edo State’s domestic debt stands at N88.3 billion, with IGR puts at N28.4 billion. This means the State IGR only covers 32% of the domestic debt only. In total, Edo state owes N171.2 billion.
- Kaduna State: Kaduna State is one of the main commercial cities in Northern Nigeria. According to the debt statistics, the state’s domestic debt profile was estimated at N121 billion, with IGR estimated at N44 billion. This means that the state’s IGR can only offset 36% of the debt. In total, the state’s debt stands at N162.9 billion.
- Bayelsa and Ekiti State: These two states owe N150 billion each and thereby make the 10th on the list. Bayelsa State is one of Nigeria’s oil-producing states. Reports show that as at the end of March 2019, the state’s domestic debt stock was estimated at N147 billion, while its IGR in 2018 stood at N13 billion. This means that the state’s IGR only covers 10% of the huge debt profile. In total, Bayelsa owes NN150 billion.According to the DMO’s report, Ekiti State’s debt was also put at N150 billion in March 2019, with IGR estimated at N6.6 billion only in 2018. This means that its IGR can only offset 5% of its domestic debt of N118 billion.
Some Critical challenges
According to the World Bank, 40% of low income developing countries are now either in debt distress or at high risk of default. The most severe problem facing public institutions in Nigeria is the fiscal issue (debt-revenue), and this problem has been provoked by a number of factors which include ‘over-dependence’ on borrowing for debt financing.
- It is affirmative that most states in Nigeria have huge debt loads, with very low revenue generated. While debt is soaring, most states apparently depend on more debt to execute any meaningful developmental projects.
- Lagos State records the largest IGR and simultaneously accumulates the biggest debt. Asides Lagos, most states depend on either more borrowing or monthly allocations from the Federal Government to even pay workers’ salaries.
- Recently, in order to ease off the debt-revenue issue, states began to push for a review of the revenue sharing formula that would improve their share of monthly allocation.
- Apparently, both the states and the Federal Government now largely depend on borrowing. This is appalling, as some states have plunged into huge debt without major infrastructural face-lifting.
- Also, most of the debt acquired by these states are from external sources. Hence, from the monthly federal allocation given to the states, a portion of it is always deducted to service the acquired debt, while the huge debt remains.
The Way Forward
Globally, most third world and developing countries are faced with the scarcity of funds to finance major infrastructure projects. Meanwhile, in the Nigerian case, most states have basically resorted to debt financing, with little or no effort to improve their internal revenue base.
It should be noted that debt is one of the ways to finance much-needed investments in infrastructure, human capital, or public works. However, good debt management is critical for these investments to be successful.
High debts always serve as barriers to economic growth and welfare in this part of the world. Hence, this situation calls for a proper rethink and redirection in the debt management policies of these states.
Why Insurance firms are selling off their PFAs
It has not been uncommon over the years to have insurance companies with pension subsidiaries.
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.
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.
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.
Nigerian Banks expected to write off 12% of its loans in 2020
The Nigerian banking system has been through two major asset quality crisis.
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 disbursed. Rising 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 2022, the highest of all the previous NPL crisis faced by financial institutions within the nation.
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.
Over the past twelve years, the Nigerian banking system has been through two major asset quality crisis. The 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.
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.
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 2022, a 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 occurrence, the 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 2024. It 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 quickly, the 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 2024. Average 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.