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Banking: Another wave of consolidation?

The banking sector may experience another wave of consolidation as there have been rumours that some Tier 1 banks may be acquiring smaller banks.

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IMF, COVID-19, CBN OMO ban could give stocks a much-needed boost , CBN’s N132.56 billion T-bills auction records oversubscription by 327% , Nigeria pays $1.09 billion to service external debt in 9 months , Implications of the new CBN stance on treasury bill sale to individuals, Digital technology and blockchain altering conventional banking models - Emefiele  , Increasing food prices might erase chances of CBN cutting interest rate   , Customer complaint against excess/unauthorized charges hits 1, 612 - CBN , CBN moves to reduce cassava derivatives import worth $600 million  , Invest in infrastructural development - CBN Governor admonishes investors , Credit to government declines, as Credit to private sector hits N25.8 trillion, CBN sets N10 billion minimum capital for Mortgage firms, CBN sets N10 billion minimum capital for Mortgage firms , Why you should be worried about the latest drop in external reserves, CBN, Alert: CBN issues N847.4 billion treasury bills for Q1 2020 , PMI: Nigeria’s manufacturing sector gains momentum in November, CBN warns high foreign credits could collapse Nigeria’s economy, predicts high poverty, MPC Member, BVN, Fitch, Foreign excchange (Forex), Overnight rates crash after CBN’s N1.4 trillion deduction

According to news circulating in local media, the banking sector may experience another wave of consolidation as there have been rumours that some Tier 1 banks may be acquiring smaller banks. Last week, there was a publication by the Independent Newspaper about First Bank acquiring Polaris (previously Skye bank) and Heritage Bank.

First Bank in response, while not affirming nor debunking the news report, stated that it continued to scan Sub-Saharan Africa for potential acquisitions and would make appropriate disclosures should it find such value. In a similar vein, there were talks over the weekend that Zenith Bank might be set to acquire Union Bank. As of the time of writing, there has been no official communication from Zenith Bank.

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We recall that in June 2019, the CBN Governor revealed during the unveiling of his economic agenda for the next five years that the devaluation in the local currency had weakened the capital of banks, making the apex bank to consider fresh capital requirements for Nigerian banks. Although the CBN Governor did not provide a timeline on when the new capital requirements would be rolled out, we suspect this may happen soon.

The last recapitalisation exercise in the banking industry was in 2005 when the apex bank raised the capital base of banks from N2 billion to N25 billion. Since then, there has been the sale of two of the CBN acquired banks and the Access and Diamond merger. The banking sector remains highly concentrated with the Concentration Ratio (CR) of the six largest banks with respect to deposits and assets at 60.31 and 59.74% as at end December 2018 according to the CBN’s 2018 financial stability report.

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[READ MORE: Financing the Agriculture sector)

According to the banking industry stress test conducted in 2018 by the CBN and published in its financial stability report released in 2019, the banking industry could withstand a shock of up to 75% increase in the industry NPLs as the CAR remained above 10%.

The baseline capital adequacy ratio (CAR) for the banking industry at end-December 2018 was 15.26% while the NPL ratio was 11.64%. In terms of credit concentration risk, the report showed that the oil and gas sector accounted for 30.29% of total industry loans and that the banking industry could withstand up to 50% default in Oil and gas loans as the post-shock CAR remained at 10.24%.

Considering that crude oil prices are down c.50% from US$68.91/b at the start of the year due to the dual impact of COVID-19 and fallout of OPEC+ agreement, we believe oil trading at this levels for a prolonged period poses a great threat to asset quality and in turn the health of the banking sector with the smaller banks at greater risk in our view.

While the rumour mill has it that many banks are not freely deciding on a merger or freely choosing banks they can merge with, we believe a consolidation exercise well-conducted should allow players freely lookout for acquisition targets that can provide needed synergy. In our opinion, this would help in strengthening the resilience of the banking sector, enhance the ability of the players in withstanding stress and laying a more solid foundation for financial stability.

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devland

CSL STOCKBROKERS LIMITED CSL Stockbrokers,

Member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange,

First City Plaza, 44 Marina,

PO Box 9117,

Lagos State,

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NIGERIA.

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Covid-19 & Smart Food Markets for the Future

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that while open markets are a key component of a sustainable food system, they aren’t built for a crisis like this one

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Covid-19 & Smart Food Markets for the Future

Nothing excites me more than visiting an open-air market and sampling some succulent, juicy pineapple, or a yellow-ripe sweet banana amidst small chit-chat with the friendly women vendors. These pleasantries are no longer the norm. With all of us wearing masks, I can hardly recognize my vendors and they cannot make out their customers. I don’t taste the fruits until they are washed in soapy water.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that while open markets are a key component of a sustainable food system, they aren’t built for a crisis like this one. Urban food markets in Africa often lack adequate infrastructure, resulting in over-crowded spaces and massive amounts of food waste. Vendors have little or no control over the hygiene practices of their suppliers and customers, making food safety protocols difficult to follow.

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Various governments in Africa, have provided guidelines to help secure the food supply during this challenging time. While this is a good short-term measure, we need to be thinking about the long-term changes that will make our markets more resilient for the future. African countries can develop prototypes for “smart” markets fit to our context, designed to ensure health and safety, and equipped to meet our food needs now and into the future.  The big question however is, what could an African Smart Market look like?

Firstly, the vast roofs of markets are a perfect place to install solar panels, enabling markets to run on sustainable energy. The power generated could also serve surrounding consumers and businesses.

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(READ MORE: FG exempts tuition fees, basic food items, others from 7.5% VAT )

Secondly, modern African markets provide the perfect opportunity for water harvesting infrastructure. The roofs of the markets could collect water during rains and would help keep the market well-sanitized and supply customers and vendors with clean drinking water.

Covid-19 & Smart Food Markets for the Future

Good water supply goes well with sanitation facilities. Water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are critical to limiting infection spread and protecting health. Clean facilities, maintained by private sector partners, could offer services such as sorting bays and improve hygiene by sanitizing surfaces for vendors.

Nigeria is the second largest tomato producing country in Africa with production of 1.5 million metric tons per annum with an estimated demand of 2.5 million metric tons.  Unfortunately, 50% of the harvested tomatoes go bad after harvest. This mainly because of the use of raffia baskets that are piled on top of each other and the lack of cooling trucks during long distance transportation. Improving storage infrastructure and sharing storage best practices can increase the availability of food on local and regional markets, leading to improved food security and increased resilience for smallholder farmers.

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Through the YieldWise Initiative, and in partnership with TechnoServe, The Rockefeller Foundation has trained farmers on post-harvest loss  reduction technologies as well as linked the farmers to processors and buyers of fresh tomatoes.

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(READ MORE: Africa day 2020: Buhari urges economic groups, CSOs and private sectors to drive peace for economic development)

Safeguarding human health, food safety and traceability must be a priority throughout the food system. While subsistence production, informal distribution channels, and traditional community markets make it difficult to implement large-scale food safety interventions, smart markets could promote a shift in consumer attitudes by designating a section where traders only sell certified and traceable produce. This could be a big step toward creating consumer demand for food safety and traceability and lay the groundwork for future reform.

Covid-19 & Smart Food Markets for the Future

Therefore, a carefully considered market design is the final piece of the puzzle. For example, traders in the sunniest and windiest spots often cover their stalls in dirty sacks, introducing the unnecessary risk of contamination. Markets could be optimized to have clear entries and exits and take into account the direction of the sun and wind, minimizing the need for extra work and unsanitary makeshift solutions.

READ ALSO: Former Andela boss, Aboyeji, has new venture aimed at funding early-stage businesses 

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As we think about designing the markets of the future, we should also explore business models to help markets become self-sustaining.

We must take COVID-19 as an opportunity to think creatively and help our markets evolve to be more hygienic, more sustainable, and more resilient to future shocks and disruptions. By doing this, we can help protect our local vendors’ livelihoods and ensure that millions of Africans have secure access healthy, nutritious food.


Writen by Bola Adekoya

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Reduction in PMS: A nod to the deregulation of the downstream sector?

The Presidency yesterday announced a reduction in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to N125 from the current price of N145.

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The Presidency yesterday announced a reduction in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to N125 from the current price of N145, necessitated by the fall in crude oil prices. Brent crude oil prices have fallen by c.64% since the beginning of the year, implying a reduction in the landing cost of PMS.

The pricing template puts the total landing cost for a litre of petrol at Nigerian port at N137/litre as of February 12, 2020, when Brent crude price stood at US$55.79/bb. This has however declined to N64.33/L as of 16 March 2020 following the dip in crude oil price to US$30/bbl.

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Reduction in PMS: A nod to the deregulation of the downstream sector?

The decision has been lauded by many as a signal towards deregulation of the downstream sector. While we see the rationale behind the move, we are concerned that the government is giving up an opportunity to prop up its already slumped revenue prospect given the significant drop in crude price. That said, the decrease will likely ease inflationary pressures at a time when inflation is on the rise. Headline inflation stood at 12.2% y/y in February, up from 12.13% in January.

READ MORE: Nigeria in trouble as rising subsidy cost exacerbates revenue crisis

On May 11, 2016, petrol pump prices were hiked by around 68% from N87/litre to N145/litre and many assumed this signalled full deregulation. This wasn’t the case however as the subsidy regime was still in place. The exchange rate factored into the landed cost of fuel was between N280 and N285/US$1.

A steep devaluation in the currency and an increase in crude prices in the international market, implied an increase in the landing cost which necessitated the continuation of the subsidy regime, though now booked as under-recovery losses in the books of NNPC.

The removal of the subsidy is a critical free-market reform, in our view, and we believe it is beneficial to the economy and government finances, though it will almost certainly put pressure on consumers and small businesses.

READ MORE: FG to reduce N1.5 trillion from 2020 budget due to coronavirus

Beyond the impact on government revenues, the removal of the subsidy also removes disincentives to refine petroleum product and may improve the balance of payments through import substitution. We, however, refrain from labeling this price reduction move as any sign of deregulation as the price of fuel is likely to remain regulated in our view.

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CSL STOCKBROKERS LIMITED CSL Stockbrokers,

Member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange,

First City Plaza, 44 Marina,

PO Box 9117,

Lagos State,

NIGERIA.

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Economy: Domestic investors hold sway in January

The NSE data on domestic and foreign investor participation for January revealed that activity level in the stock market was high.

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Bourse, NSE in 2019, events & outlook, Foreign portfolio transactions drop by N280 billion as foreign investors remain net sellers of Nigerian equities , 2020 Nigerian Equities Outlook: Breaking the Jinx?, Equities: Foreign investors remain net sellers for second consecutive year , Investors part with N152.1 billion as bearish trade extends, Stocks close February in deep red as investment options dry up for Nigerians, Economy: Domestic investors hold sway in January

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) data on domestic and foreign investor participation for January revealed that activity level in the stock market was high, as total value of transactions grew 84% m/m to N235.5 billion.

The sturdy growth in the level of transactions was driven largely by domestic investors, as the value of transactions executed rose by 155% m/m to N165.1 billion from N64.8 billion in December 2019.

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We believe the strong participation of domestic investors was spurred by buoyant system liquidity following the restriction placed by the CBN on individuals and Pension Fund Administrators from investing in OMO bills. As a result, this segment of the market could no longer invest funds from maturing OMO bills, leading to a surge in the amount of the funds chasing existing asset classes.

We recall that there was a lot of buying interest in high dividend yield stocks particularly in the banking sector with tickers such as UBA, ZENITH, GUARANTY & FMN recording significant gains.

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Despite the improvement in the value of transactions executed by foreign investors (up 11% m/m to N70.3 billion), we highlight that foreign investors’ outflows from the local bourse outpaced inflows for the fourth consecutive month. Specifically, foreign investors’ net outflows rose to N22.7 billion in January compared to N19.8 billion in December 2019. In our view, this reflects the fact that foreign investors interest in the local bourse remains weak despite attractive valuations.

[READ MORE: CBN announces initial policy response to COVID-19)

We think the absence of structural reforms in strengthening the resilience of the domestic economy, rising vulnerabilities to external shocks, heightened uncertainty in the banking sector given the flurry of regulatory guidelines from the CBN are fundamental issues inhibiting foreign investors appetite for Nigerian equities.

Considering the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) which has disrupted global supply chain and the downturn in oil prices (crude oil prices are down c.50% from US$68.91/b at the start of the year), we expect foreign investors to remain averse towards Nigerian equities.

With respect to domestic investors, we expect subdued interest in the local bourse given heightened concerns around a currency devaluation and the tendency to want to hold foreign currency. Accordingly, we envisage that domestic investors will trade cautiously with many remaining on the sidelines.

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_______________________________________________________________________

devland

CSL STOCKBROKERS LIMITED CSL Stockbrokers,

Member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange,

First City Plaza, 44 Marina,

PO Box 9117,

Lagos State,

app

NIGERIA.

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