As Africans, we are taught that names are powerful. Many people believe this, which explains why a lot of thinking goes into naming a child or a new business venture. While this is a good thing to do, it often becomes puzzling when names are the direct opposite of reality. Case in view is Champion Breweries Plc, a Nigerian brewer which keeps lagging behind in the midst of actual champions, thereby calling its rather powerful name into question. But this could change.
Champion Breweries Plc is Nairametrics’ company focus for the week. As always, we chose to profile the brewer mainly because it is little-known. There are many of such companies that are listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and ever so often, Nairametrics tries to shine the spotlight on them for the benefit of investors who may be looking for where to invest.
On that note, get to know all there is to know about Champions Breweries: its history, business model, target market, ownership structure, the influence of competitors, as well as financials.
About Champion Breweries Plc: a corporate overview
Initially known by the name South East Breweries Limited following its incorporation in 1974, the Uyo-based brewer has since gone through a series of corporate changes and rebranding. At some point, it became known as Cross River Breweries Limited, after which it transformed to Champion Breweries Limited. In 1992, the company became a public limited company in preparation to become a quoted company on the Nigerian bourse. The listing of the company’s shares on the NSE took place on September 1st, 1993.
According to information available on the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s website, Champions Breweries Plc has a total market capitalisation of about N10.8 billion. This is far less than the market caps of its major competitors. Similarly, its share price of N1.38 is far below that of its major competitors who shall be named shortly.
Champion Breweries’ business model
As a going concern, the brewer generates most of its revenue through the production and distribution of a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Asides producing its own products, Champion Breweries Plc also engages in contract brewing, which basically entails the provision of production and packaging services to other breweries for a fee. Two of the company’s only known brands are:
- Champion Lager Beer, and
- Champion Malta
The company’s target market
Just like every other brewer in Nigeria and beyond, Champion Breweries Plc targets beer lovers, as well as lovers of non-alcoholic beverages such as malt drinks. However, while the other leading Nigerian brewers tend to have wider target markets, Champion Breweries seems contented with focusing on consumers in the South-South and South-East parts of the country. This has been the case since its inception in the 1970s.
Champion Breweries’ ownership structure
After many corporate transformations and changes in ownership structure, the brewer is currently majority-owned by Raysun Nigeria Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Heineken International BV. Information contained in the Nigerian brewer’s 2018 audited financial report indicates that Raysun Nigeria Limited owns a total of 4,729,434 units of shares, which represents 60.4% shareholding. The interesting thing is that Heineken International, besides owning Raysun Nigeria Limited, also has majority stake in one of Champion Breweries’ biggest competitors.
Anyway, a further breakdown of Champion Breweries Plc’s ownership structure indicates that the Akwa Ibom State Government holds some 10% shareholding, while an Assets Management nominee holds 12.3%. Other shareholders comprise mostly retail investors, who own the remaining 17.3% shareholding.
A quick look at the company’s top executives
- Dr. Elijah Akpan: Chairman
- Mr. Patrick Ejidoh: Managing Director
- Mr. Hendrik van Rooijen
- Mr. Marinus Gabriels
- Mr. Samson Aigbedo
- Mrs. Helen Umanah
- Mr. Thompson Owoka
- Alhaji Shuaibu Ottan
- Mr. Samuel Onukwue
Facing the competitors
Nigerians are famous for their love for all things alcohol, especially beer. This explains the availability of quite a handful of brewers across the country. Five of these brewers are listed on the country’s stock market and they include Nigerian Breweries Plc, Guinness Nigeria Plc, International Breweries Plc, Golden Guinea Breweries Plc, and of course, Champion Breweries Plc.
The scorecard for the companies’ half-year 2019 performances shows that Nigerian Breweries generated the biggest revenue of N170.1 billion, followed by a profit after tax of N13.3 billion. Guinness Nigeria Plc, whose full-year normally ends June 30th of every year due to its unique accounting process, recorded revenue of N67.7 billion. The company’s profit after tax for the period stood at N1.7 billion. Meanwhile, International Breweries Plc reported revenue of N68.6 billion for the period under review but ran at a loss of N6.8 billion. Lastly, Champion Breweries Plc reported revenue of N1.6 billion and a profit after tax of N99.1 million.
Making sense of the situation
It is important to reiterate that Champion Breweries Plc is a traditionally small company which has always focused on the South East region. The company’s decision to remain small could be a strategic move by Heineken International to ensure that it does not unnecessarily compete with Nigerian Breweries. This could explain why it has limited product lines, whilst focusing much of its energy on contract production for Nigerian Breweries.
Should Nigerian Breweries buy Champion Breweries Plc?
This could make sense, considering that both companies are already owned by the same entity – Heineken. Moreover, Champion Breweries is already in charge of producing a considerable amount of NB’s products. But while this may seem like a possible option, it is important to note that Champion Breweries’ products have achieved brand loyalty in the South East region where the company has operated for over forty years. Maintaining this brand loyalty is important no matter how small it may seem.
More so, part of Heineken International’s strategic move may be to allow Champion Breweries keep producing its cheaper beer and malt brands as a way of checkmating competition from the likes of Guinness Nigeria Plc and International Breweries Plc. After all, as we’ve noted earlier, people in the South East are already familiar with Champion Lager Beer and Champion Malt. It would be unwise to halt its production whilst possibly giving competitors the chance to take over that market share.
Is Zenith Bank thriving on the strength of sound financial indices?
Zenith Bank posts N103.8bn profit in half-year financial result.
Sound financial indices have made Zenith Bank one of the largest banks in the Nigerian banking Industry. It was recognized as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria 2019, in the Global Banker magazine Top 500 Banking brands; and Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria 2019, by the World Finance.
Zenith Bank has successfully bolstered this narrative even further with the release of its Half Year 2020 Financial Report, where it closed with a profit of N103.8 billion.
Growing profit position in these perilous times, speaks remarkably of the suppleness and elasticity of any establishment. A lull in economic activity caused by inflationary pressures, precariousness of the market, and the coronavirus pandemic has forced most Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to cave in, and reveal achievements worse off than their 2019 results y/y – but not Zenith Bank Plc. The institution has showcased beyond reasonable doubt, that the apparent limitations are incapable of distorting its active growth pattern.
Zenith Bank closed H1 2020, 16.8% better off than it did in 2019 y/y, in terms of profit after tax. Although this massive leap, hugely resulting from tax paid as profit before tax, noted just a 2.2% growth. Further analysis of its HY’2020 results, demonstrates more efficiency, a focused cost of fund optimization, and an aggressiveness in generating income across its business heads and segments. This strategy had begun since 2018, and was shared by the bank when it disclosed planned implementation of an improved core banking system, hoping it would ultimately enhance efficiency while reducing costs.
Zenith Bank has thrived on the strength of its sound business model, corporate governance, conservative risk management, and strategic corporate social investment. The bank has been very forceful in the market, improving massively across all of its income generating segments, despite the plausible and obvious hindrances. This is a testament to its superiority, and sponsors its claim for supremacy.
The bank made N22billion from foreign exchange revaluation gains and despite evidence to the contrary, it endeavored in operating expenditure (OPEX). OPEX may have grown by 7.7%, but disclosures and note to the accounts shows that in virtually every expense head, costs dropped. The 7.7% was triggered majorly by Information Technology related costs, fuel and maintenance, and an increase in the compulsory banking cost fund, set up for the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) by the CBN.
Now, like every hero susceptible to their hubris, Zenith has its own problems, which questions its position at the top. Yes, the bank may have an amazing and constantly improving interest expense to interest income ratio, but it does not possess the finest result in this regard as of yet. HY 2019 interest expense took as much as 33.6% of its income, while HY 2020 dropped to 27.4%. This is good, but still considerably high, if we carry out a peer-to-peer analysis with Guarantee Trust Bank Plc (masters of low-interest expenses), whose ratio stands at 16% for HY 2020.
However, Zenith has sustained the momentum of positioning itself as the crème de la crème in the Nigerian Banking Industry for quite some time. The bank’s pattern of growth and performance, strongly indicates its capabilities to manage its interest expense in subsequent quarters. It will be interesting to see how this pans out by year end.
In summary, despite economic difficulties this year, with most bank’s bottom-line at a worse position than the corresponding period last year, Zenith posted improved profit yet again. Could this be enough to portray supremacy?
UBA Plc H1’2020 results, a true reflection of its rightsizing decision?
UBA’s H1 2020 result is yet another demonstration of the resilience of its business model.
The upward review in benefits of some employees and directors this year, coupled with the rising operational costs, constitutes the hot topics from the 2020 semi-annual results released by UBA Plc.
Widely regarded as the banking sector’s largest employer of labour in Nigeria, the bank in December 2019, embarked on a ‘rightsizing’ exercise, which partly resulted in new hires, as well as promotions, improved remunerations, and benefits for existing employees.
The Group Head, Media and External Relations, UBA Plc, Nasir Ramon commenting on this said, “over 5000 staff of UBA Plc, started the new year with a lot of cheer, as the bank promoted to new grades, coupled with salary upgrades. Beneficiaries of this exercise will receive up to 170% increase in their salaries and benefits, whilst a good number have been moved to higher grade levels.”
Directors saw their emoluments amplify by 177.7% (Fees and Sitting allowances) as demonstrated in the financial statements of the bank. Rising to N50million in June 2020, from N18million in 2019 y/y.
Now, Deposit Money Banks (DMB’s) might be adjudged to be honorable in all of their objectives, but the truth is they are neither self-sacrificing nor are they expected to be. DMB’s are established for profit, and would incessantly prioritize business good sense over social empathy, for the sake of their owners. The import of this is, UBA Plc expects its colossal investments in employees and directors to overwhelmingly reflect in its bottom-line.
Half-year 2020 results is clearly not in sync with this philosophy, as it reflects a weakened position compared to the corresponding period last year, despite the investments in human capital. Profit before tax dropped by 18.7%, from N70.3billion recorded in HY’2019 to N57.1billion in the current period. Profit after tax waned as well by 21.7% to N44.4billion from N56.7billion in HY’2019.
Interestingly enough, the top-line fared pretty well. Interest income and fee income showed improvements, albeit marginally by 0.3% and 6.7% respectively. This makes it illogical to attribute the entirety of the decline in profit to the recent austerity measures put in place by the CBN, reducing funds transfer fees and card maintenance charges.
The Coronavirus pandemic played a big role too, by widely stunting the economy in the second quarter of 2020, and negatively impacting profit. But even these do not provide substantial and sufficient convictions as to why the Tier-one bank did not hit the profit-bar it set for itself, from its truly emphatic 2019 financial year. Does this mean that UBA Plc got the decision wrong at the start of the year?
Six months seem too short a period to immediately class management’s decision to jack up the benefits and emoluments of its internal customers as a failed one. Although, no one anticipated the travails of COVID-19 and its resulting consequences, investments in human capital is widely proven to yield tremendous growth in the long haul. Besides the fact that it has given UBA Plc a solid reputation in the market place, it also makes the company very attractive to the very best of industry talents. Furthermore, employee engagements of this nature, foster brand loyalty which ultimately trickles down to how passionately these personnel undertake their tasks and deliverables. The true bearing of this investment is expected to reflect in due course, in subsequent quarters.
Commenting on the result, UBA’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kennedy Uzoka said, “Our H1 2020 results is yet another demonstration of the resilience of our business model in an extremely uncertain and tough operating environment. We recorded commendable growth in our underlying business in terms of customer acquisition, transaction volumes, and balance sheet whilst inflation, depressed yield environment and exchange rate volatility impacted our net earnings as anticipated.”
In today’s increasingly aggressive marketplace, where consistently generating revenue, is paramount to preserving the longevity and going-concern status of any establishments, costs must also be accorded as much attention and significance. Tightening and managing costs with the aim to improve and generate profit is genius strategy especially in today’s banking industry. The banking industry is under threat from ruthless competitions. Multifarious streams that had hitherto been available for generating income for DMB’s are being severely hindered by the ‘austere’ policies (from the perspective of commercial banks) from the apex bank, making effective cost management a survival mechanism.
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Employee benefits rose by 20% from N37.2billion in HY’2019 to N44.6billion in HY’2020, while Directors’ emoluments (Fees and Sitting Allowance) as earlier stated, surged by 177% from N18million in 2019 to N50million in 2020 y/y. The total operating expenses increased 22.6% in 2020. UBA Plc, unavoidably expended N22.4billion on Banking Sector Resolution cost trust fund, in compliance with the CBN’s requirement to contribute to the cause of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON). Security and other payments for core services experienced increase as well compared to the preceding year.
Avoidable expenses like Penalties and Premises Maintenance Charge, should be extensively reviewed and extinguished wherever possible, to improve bottom line. UBA plc has forked out N565million in penalties so far in 2020, representing 6177.7% increase from just N9million in 2019 y/y. This is a prime example of the operational brick walls, UBA Plc must properly address to improve its fortunes in subsequent quarters.
Finding Balance: GTB’s impeccable gains versus its notable losses
Bank’s strategy of increasing gains while seeking out ways to decrease its losses is on a true course to growth.
Guarantee Trust Bank Plc (GTBank), over the past few years, has taken the Nigerian banking industry by storm, particularly through the foresight and strategic actions of its management.
The bank has, over time, tactically built its operations and expanded its market share, earning its spot as one of the credible names in the Nigerian banking space.
Faced with challenges like increase in the loan-to-deposits ratio (LDR) instituted by the CBN, and the COVID-19 pandemic that got companies in the financial sector thinking of new ways to survive, GTB may have found its way out.
Overview of its half-year results
Net interest income increased by 9.7% to N127.6 billion in H1 2020, compared with N116.4 billion in H1 2019. Its Profit before income tax stood at N109.7 billion in H1 2020, compared with the N115.8billion in the corresponding period in 2019 – a decrease of 5.2%.
Somewhere in-between the good and the not-so-good, the bank has been able to round off its earnings to a balanced output for H1 2020.
The good: Foreign Exchange gains
One of the best happenings to investors this year, is the extreme volatility of the forex market – among other currency and commodity plays. In H1 2020 period, the company’s financial assets at fair value through profit or loss, was up by 91.6% to N140.8 billion, when compared with N73.5 billion in H2 2019.
Interestingly, this was due to 129.2% increase in treasury bills from N56.9 billion in H1 2019 to N130.5 billion in H1 2020. Through forward foreign exchange contracts and currency swaps, they were able to increase derivative assets by 49% from N188.6 billion (notional contract amount) in H1 2019 to N280.9 billion in H1 2020.
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Foreign exchange revaluation gain in the half-year period was significantly boosted, from N2.6 billion in H1 2019, it attained 723% growth to N21.9 billion H1 2020, and it was a major reason for the 28% increase in other income within the period under review. Deposits from customers were also higher by 18.5% to N3 trillion. While loans and advances to customers increased in line with the apex’s bank directive. This could be both a bad thing and a good thing, depending on the level of credit risk.
The not-so-good: Impairment losses, CBN’s penalties
Following CBN’s issuance mandating commercial banks to increase the percentage of customer deposits that were loaned to 65%, so as to effectively stimulate the economy, stringent penalties had been imposed on non-compliant banks by the apex bank.
Consequently, the company’s restricted deposits had increased to N1.054 trillion, owing to its limitations in full compliance. While its increased cash balance of 27.8% in the period under review, could signify that the worst of the challenge is over (particularly following the comparative reduction in cash in Q1 2020), a cursory look at the reason for the strengthened cash position, is the 75.7% increase in money market placements to N333.5 billion – another positive for the bank.
Loan impairment charges in the half-year period, increased by 209.7% from N2.1 billion to N6.8 billion, and this was as a result of increased provisions for expected credit losses on financial assets extended to its customers, no doubt as a result of the economic uncertainties, synonymous with the period under review.
Commenting on the half-year results, the CEO, Segun Agbaje, noted that; “Going forward, our focus is not just to survive this pandemic, but to thrive beyond it. That is why we are going ahead with our plans to re-imagine how we create value for all our stakeholders.
“We know that making financial services work for customers goes beyond banking, and in line with our long-term strategy, we will seek to create and drive innovative financial solutions that go beyond banking.”
The bank’s Return on Equity (ROE) of 26.8% is currently one of the best in the industry, and a testament to this promise. Its strategy of increasing gains by focusing on its strengths, while also seeking out ways to decrease its losses, is one that will set any organization on a true course for growth. GTBank is certainly on that path.