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NSE publishes guidance to facilitate effective virtual meetings for stakeholders amidst Covid-19 

The Nigerian Stock Exchange has published guidance on virtual Board, Committee, and Management Meetings for stakeholders. 

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Lagos, April 15, 2020. The Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE” or “The Exchange”) has today, Wednesday, April 15, 2020, published guidance on virtual Board, Committee, and Management Meetings for stakeholders. 

The Guidance is in response to the shift from conventional physical meetings to virtual meetings precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the critical need to protect investors’ interests. It is one of The Exchange’s “Thought Leadership” initiatives, designed to provide direction to market and other stakeholders on carrying out successful, productive, and rewarding virtual meetings at this time and other times when in-person meetings are unfeasible.

Commenting on the Guidance, Chief Executive Officer, NSE, Oscar N. Onyema, OON, said, “The NSE has provided this Guidance to assist our stakeholders with identifying and adopting best practices and procedures, and complying with applicable corporate governance standards whilst conducting their virtual meetings. The goal is to ensure that when companies opt for virtual participation in meetings, they are accessible, transparent, efficient, and cost-effectively managed, while meeting the important business and corporate governance needs of all relevant stakeholders.

(READ MORE: COVID-19: Emefiele lists 8 things that can “transform” Nigeria)

In addressing concerns around virtual meetings, Executive Director, Regulation, NSE, Ms. Tinuade Awe, said, “The Exchange recognises the legal and regulatory uncertainties that Nigerian businesses may face regarding convening virtual meetings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. More so, in light of the fact that the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap. C20 LFN 2004 (CAMA) is silent on the issue of virtual meetings. However, CAMA does not expressly prohibit virtual meetings. It is, therefore, expedient that the Articles of Association of a company or its Board, Committee, and Management Charters or Terms of Reference should provide for and authorize virtual meetings.”

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Matters addressed in the Guidance relate to statutory and regulatory considerations, availability of technological infrastructure, inclusion and management of external attendees, information security, protocols and participants’ responsibilities, amongst others. 

It should be recalled that The Exchange has continued to provide an enabling regulatory environment to stakeholders since the activation of its business continuity plan on Monday, 23 March 2020 which saw the transition to remote working and remote trading on 24 March and 25 March, respectively. Since then, The Exchange has published notices to Issuers on the conduct of 2020 Annual General Meetings (AGMs); the CAC’s guidelines on AGM’s via proxies; and on the extension of the deadline for filing returns; as well as notices to Dealing Member Firms on the extension of time to complete the 2020 Self-Assessment Form; and notices to the general public on the activation of The Exchange’s Business Continuity Plan which saw NSE transitioned to carrying out business and trading activities remotely; all, in order to effectively cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on affected stakeholders.

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Tech News

MTN, Vodacom launched 5G in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 – GSMA Report

Vodacom and MTN launched their first major 5G networks in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020, according to the GSMA 2020 report.

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The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) 2020 report revealed that Vodacom and MTN launched their first major 5G networks in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020.

The telecoms operators offered 5G mobile and fixed wireless access (FWA) services in several locations across South Africa – this appears to be a welcome development, as the South African government had already assigned temporary spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Obviously, the proximate opportunity to be harnessed for the 5G in South Africa is to use FWA to bridge the gap in fixed broadband connectivity for homes and businesses.

According to the report, there has been 5G trial runs in almost all the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda but the possibility of mass deployment of the 5G network is still not guaranteed, as there are significant levels of unused 4G capacity. Also, the 4G adoption rate is still relatively low, creating opportunities for the operators to increase their stakes in 4G.

As a boost to mop up the unused 4G capacity, the partnership between Safaricom and Google to finance the acquisition of 4G smartphones, provides the desired momentum as low-income consumers pay for 4G devices in convenient and flexible daily installments.

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According to the report, it is expected that over the next five years, the number of smartphone connections in Sub-Saharan Africa will almost double to reach 678 million by the end of 2025 — an adoption rate of 65%.

What you should know

  • It is expected that by 2025, there will be a little below 30 million mobile 5G connections in Sub-Saharan Africa, equivalent to almost 3% of total mobile connections.
  • The mobile market in the region will reach several important milestones over the next five years: half a billion mobile subscribers in 2021, 1 billion mobile connections in 2024, and 50% subscriber penetration by 2025.
  • The achievement of these critical milestones would be predicated on the operators’ commitment in providing reliable infrastructural networks across the region.
  • Between 2019 and 2025, the operators in the region would have expended/invested about the sum of $52billion in infrastructure rollouts.
  • The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with almost 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organizations in adjacent industry sectors.

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Financial Services

Stamp Duty on Nigerian Stock market transactions pegged at 0.08% from December 7

The NSE has given clarifications on the public notice released by the FIRS, itemizing contract notes at an ad valorem rate of 0.08%.

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NSE prepares to launch West Africa’s first Exchange-traded derivatives

The Nigerian Stock Exchange has given clarifications on the public notice released by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in July, itemizing contract notes at an ad valorem rate of 0.08% up from 0.075%, effective 7th December 2020.

The circular released by the Nigerian Stock Exchange reads:

“In reference to the Public Notice in the Business Day Newspaper of Monday, 20 July 2020, captioned ‘Clarification of Administration of Stamp Duties in Nigeria’ issued by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) (A copy is attached as Appendix A for ease of reference).

The Public Notice provided, amongst other things, information on dutiable instruments and the applicable flat or ad valorem rates, with Contract Notes 1 itemized at an ad valorem rate of 0.08%. As you know, this is at variance with the current rate of 0.075% administered in the Nigerian Capital Market.”

To that extent, Dealing Members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange are to note the following:

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  • Effective December 7, 2020, the Central Securities Clearing System Plc. (CSCS) will adjust its system to implement the automated deduction of the Stamp Duty rate of 0.08%.
  • Dealing Members are required to immediately engage their software vendors for the required adjustments to their technology applications, to reflect the 0.08% rate ahead of the effective date of 7 December 2020.
  • Dealing Members are required to communicate the changes above to their clients immediately, ahead of the effective date.

What you should know

Nairametrics revealed that the FIRS listed at least 50 types of transactions that are eligible for stamp duty deductions.

Some of the listed chargeable transactions include bank deposit or transfer, loan agreement, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), sales agreement, will, tenancy/lease agreement, and all receipts.

The FIRS noted that the recently inaugurated FIRS Adhesive Stamp is not the same as the postage stamp administered by NIPOST for the purposes of delivery of items and documents.

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The Stamp Duties Act, 19391 defines Contact Notes as “the note sent by a broker or agent to his principal, or by any person who, by way of business, deals, or holds himself out as dealing, as a principal in any stock or marketable securities, advising the principal, or the vendor or purchaser, as the case may be, of the sale or purchase of any stock or marketable security, but does not include a note sent by a broker or agent to his principal where the principal is himself acting as broker or agent for a principal.”

See the circular below:

Download (PDF, 566KB)

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Coronavirus

Covid-19: UK to approve Pfizer, BioTNech vaccine, to start immunization December 7

The UK government is set to approve the COVID-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc next week.

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Covid-19: AstraZeneca vaccine gets huge boost, produces immune response in elderly, Vaccine, COVID-19: Russia to roll out vaccine in September ahead of the West 

The global reception of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc in collaboration with BioNTech following the positive outcome of its phase 3 trial, seems to have intensified as it is set for approval by the UK medical regulator.

According to Reuters, a report from Financial Times on Saturday suggests that deliveries would commence within hours of the authorization with the first immunizations using the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine possibly taking place from December 7.

The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had earlier in the day, named Nadhim Zahawi, who is the current junior business minister, as the minister responsible for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.

The UK government has placed an order for 40 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which has been found to be 95% effective in the final analysis of the phase 3 trials in preventing the spread of a virus that has killed over 1.4 million people across the world with its devastating impact on the global economy.

The UK government had on November 20, formally asked its medical regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), to conduct a study of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with a view to determining its suitability, the first step in making it available outside the United State

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The government which had secured 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford had also asked the regulator on Friday to assess the vaccine for a possible rollout before Christmas.

What you should know: The US drugmaker, Pfizer Inc, on November 18, 2020, announced that a final analysis of clinical-trial data of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine, which it is developing in collaboration with BioTNech, showed it was 95% effective, thereby paving the way for the company to apply for the first U.S. regulatory authorization for a coronavirus shot.

Pfizer said they had no serious safety concerns in a trial that involves almost 44,000 participants as their vaccine protected people of all ages and ethnicities.

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