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Bank Hold-Cos are expected to fare better in new era of Nigerian banking

In Nigeria, there are currently three banks with a holding company structure, according to information obtained from the NSE. The banks are – FCMB Group Plc, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, and FBN Holdings Plc.

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Earlier this year, the CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Segun Agbaje, disclosed ongoing plans by the tier-1 bank to switch to a holding company structure. Apparently, there are other financial services, besides core banking, that are now quite profitable. As Nairametrics reported, Agbaje explained that GTBank will not be left behind as the new wave of Nigerian banking gradually takes effect. Therefore, the bank will fully take advantage of these other profitable businesses by diversifying into a holding company structure.

Note that when Agbaje made this disclosure in March, Nigeria was yet to really feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Fast-forward to May 2020 and it is a different story altogether. As Nigerian banks continue to grapple with the negative impacts of the pandemic, some experts have opined that those with diversified operations are better-positioned to excel. However, it is not as straight-forward as it seems, as you shall see shortly.

READ ALSO: Ratings firm explains why bank non-performing loans could be worse than expected

Understanding the situation; A quick overview of Nigerian banks amid COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has birthed a new era of Nigerian banking where banks will have to be a lot more strategic and diversified in order to excel. At a time when the economy is suffering and loans are at risk of going bad, many banks are projected to underperform in 2020. It, therefore, behooves of the banks to find viable businesses that will help them cushion the impacts of the pandemic.

As you may well know, the key assets on most banks’ books are basically loans and financial assets. For Nigerian banks whose loans are often skewed towards the oil and gas sector (about 26%), there are growing concerns over possible write-downs on loans or worst still, a sporadic jump in non-performing loans.

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(READ FURTHER: GTBank Plc to consider a holding company structure)

According to Gbenga Sholotan, an Investment Analyst and Portfolio Manager who spoke to Nairametrics, no bank will be spared from the negative impacts of COVID-19. However, the impact on different banks will depend on the degree of their loan exposures and in what sectors of the economy those exposures are in. He said:

“If you have a bank whose loan book is highly-skewed towards oil and gas or commodities, then you will see a lot of restructuring or a possibility of non-performing loans in the event that there is no restructuring. So, there will be a little bit of write-down to these assets. 

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“For banks whose books are skewed towards consumer-lending (that is retail banking), this is also not a good time. This is because a lot of their customers are losing their jobs or even collecting half pay. And what this means is that these customers will not be able to repay their loans to these banks. And this will impact the banks.

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“I really don’t think any bank will be spared. It just depends on how their loans are skewed. So, for banks whose loans are skewed towards heavy-duty industries… Let’s use an example – the cement players. If I have given most of my loans to the cement players, there’s a lockdown in Nigeria. So, no one has actually been building/constructing over the last three weeks or thereabouts. This simply means that sales will be down for the cement companies and they can only be able to repay loans with the cash they already have; if they do. If they don’t, then the banks who lent to them are also in trouble.”

Are banks with holding company structures better-positioned to survive COVID-19?

Having established that all the banks will be impacted by the fallouts of the pandemic, Sholotan went further to point out that some of them might be better positioned to survive. According to him, these are banks with holding company structures.

“I agree with your view on the holding company structure because these guys have other subsidiaries that make money for them. An example would be Stanbic IBTC where they have an asset management business; they also have a pension fund business. They will likely fare better…” Sholotan admitted.

Similarly, the head of marketing at Chapel Hill Denham, Lanre Buluro, had earlier told Nairametrics that banks with holding company structures might just have it easier compared to their competitors. According to him, banks whose business model entails more than typical banking tend to have more diversified revenue streams that help them to supplement revenue from their core banking operations. He also mentioned Stanbic IBTC and FCMB as two banks whose diversified businesses could really help during this difficult period.

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Focus on bank Hold-Cos in Nigeria

In Nigeria, there are currently three banks with a holding company structure, according to information obtained from the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The banks are – FCMB Group Plc, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, and FBN Holdings Plc. These companies’ subsidiaries operate in businesses outside of core banking, including asset management, pension fund administration, investment banking, insurance, stockbroking, and many more.

Stanbic IBTC

Now, it is one thing for a company to have many subsidiaries, and then something else entirely for these many subsidiaries to actually be profitable. This is why we ensured to cross-check these companies’ financial records just to see how profitable they have been over the last four years. As you can see from the table below, these holding companies’ gross earnings and profits have relatively grown consistently over the last four years. Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc also appears to have recorded the most profits between 2016 and 2019, even though FBN Holdings Plc generated the most revenue during the 4-year period.

The table also shows the difference between these banks’ non-interest revenues and their gross earnings during the period under review.

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Courtesy of Nairametrics Research

READ ALSO: Top 10 Stockbroking firms trade shares worth N138.1 billion in January 

Asides FCMB Group Plc, both FBN Holdings and Stanbic IBTC Holdings recorded significant growths in their gross earnings and profit during the 2016/2017 recession. In specific terms, FCMB Group’s gross earnings had declined by 3.8% to N169.9 billion in FY 2017, down from N176.4 billion in FY 2016. The group’s profit after tax also declined by 53.9% to N9.2 billion in 2017, down from N14.3 billion in 2016.

On the other hand, FBN Holdings Plc grew its gross earnings and profit by 2.3% and 178.8% (respectively) in 2017. In the same vein, Stanbic IBTC’s group revenue grew by 35.8% in 2017, even as profit equally rose by 69.6% compared to how much profit was recorded in 2016. This could be seen to support the argument that bank Hold-Cos are better prepared to withstand economic upheavals such as recessions. However, there is a concern…

Not all the bank Hold-Cos have strong subsidiaries

According to Dolapo Ashiru, a Financial/Capital Market Analyst who spoke to Nairametrics, not all banks with holding company structures have strong subsidiaries. Therefore, even though a holding company structure should ideally help banks to fare better, this may not really be the case for some of Nigeria’s diversified financial institutions. He said:

“Let me use the example of Stanbic. Stanbic has subsidiaries like asset management and so on. In the pension space, Stanbic IBTC’s pension subsidiary is number one. But in the banking space, are they number one? The answer is no. So, the non-banking subsidiaries of Stanbic are better market leaders than the traditional banking subsidiary. But then again, inasmuch as Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Ltd is doing so well in the pension space, you cannot compare that with FCMB. The non-banking subsidiaries under FCMB are generally not as strong as the non-banking subsidiaries under Stanbic. 

“But ideally you are right, companies that have a hold-co structure should be better prepared to do well because their income is not just purely from banking. But not all the hold-cos have very strong non-banking subsidiaries like Stanbic IBTC. I am of the opinion that GTBank will do better than most hold-cos because GTBank has, to a very large extent, been very cost-efficient. More so, GTBank’s returns on investment and assets are far better than any other bank.”

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(KEEP READING: Zenith Bank CEO admits COVID-19 will severely impact banks)

But the future of banking is indeed Hold-Co

Speaking to Nairametrics, Investment Advisor and Fixed Income expert, Igho Alonge, stressed that the future of successful banking is Hold-Co. According to him, this has nothing to do with COVID-19 because prior to this time, it was already clear that banks with holding company structure were better positioned to excel. He said:

“You see the way CBN has been regulating banks… LDR is so high, CRR for some banks is above 60%. So, with this kind of tough regulation on banks, I expect that holding companies will do better. Banks that have a holding company structure will survive this over-regulation from the CBN. If you look at Stanbic, the pension arm’s contribution to the group is higher than its cost deduction from the group. FBN Holdings has been paying dividends. The bank itself has not been able to pay dividends because of its non-performing loans. So, other arms of the business have been helping to pay dividends.

“I think the future of the best banks (i.e. banks that will return more money to shareholders) by surviving this strong regulation by the CBN, will be the guys that have other businesses.”

Commenting further, Alonge argued that COVID-19 will affect all the banks, regardless of whether they are focused on core banking or diversified in a holding structure. For instance, the fact that many companies are laying off their staff means that there will be less remittance to pension funds. Also, asset management companies and investment banks will take various forms of hits from the pandemic because there will be less business for them to do.

“COVID-19 will slow down everybody’s business. It will slow down banks without hold-co, and banks without hold-co. Investment banking will suffer because there will be fewer mergers and acquisitions, PFAs will suffer because people are losing their jobs, asset management will also suffer. So, I don’t really think there is any clear-cut advantage for banks with hold-co and those without hold-co as far as COVID-19 is concerned. Also, do not forget that banks with hold-co structures are taxed twice. The subsidiaries are first taxed, and then when they remit all their profit to the group they get taxed again. So, that is a disadvantage,” he stated.

In the meantime, some tier-1 banks and banks with strong technology will excel

For now, Nigeria’s largest banks by assets and profitability (Zenith Bank and GTBank) are not Hold-Cos. As a matter of fact, some experts believe that some tier-1 banks such as GTBank, Zenith, and UBA will always do well. Also, banks with good technological innovations will equally do well. According to Lanre Buluro, “GTBank will do well because their cost structure is one of the lowest in the market.” He also cited Sterling Bank Plc, which he said has recently been very innovative with its use of technology.

For US-based Nigerian Financial Analyst, Wole Oluyemi, the survival of Nigerian banks will depend on their ability to make good use of technology in their operations. He told Nairametrics that he believes “all banks would experience some level of impacts from COVID-19 but their ability to absorb the shocks is highly dependent on their operational and IT resilience that has been built pre-COVID. So, I believe that those banks with good digital platforms (both infrastructure and deployment capability to customers) would come out of the crisis with very minimal impact.”

Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs.He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor.Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan.If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Companies

Flour Mills moves to diversify funding sources with N29.8 billion bond listing

Flour Mills Nigeria Plc lists N29.8 billion bonds to diversify funding sources from the Nigerian capital market.

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Flour Mills makes one of the largest contributions to COVID-19 relief fund

Flour Mills Nigeria Plc’s fresh N29.8 bond listing will help the nation’s leading food business company to explore diversified funding sources from the Nigerian capital market, with the hope of enhancing growth and the development of the company.

This statement was made by the Group Managing Director of FMN, Mr. Omoboyede Olusanya, at the listing of the Tranche A and Tranche B bonds valued at N29.8 billion on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The food and the agro-allied company which has remained Nigeria’s largest and oldest integrated agro-allied business with a broad profile and robust Pan-Africa distribution issued these bonds under its N70 billion Bond Issuance Programme.

Olusanya said that the company would continue to explore funding opportunities inherent in the capital market to ensure business growth and continuity.

While speaking about the Credit Rating of the Programme, he disclosed that FMN’s credit rating, as well as the operational financing of the Group, have improved considerably.

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According to him, the bonds floated by Flour Mill will help to strengthen the company’s capital base and provide the needed working capital required by the Company. He added that Flour Mills Group will continue to deleverage and replace short term financing with longer-tenured and lower price funding to optimize capital structure and reduce financing cost.

He noted that Flour Mills will continue to explore opportunities to raise fundings via the capital market as this enables the company to diversify its funding sources and continue to play a role in the capital market as a significant player in it.

What they are saying

The Group Managing Director of FMN, Mr. Omoboyede Olusanya, at the virtual event, said;

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  • “We are delighted with the response from the market, we are happy to be listed.
  • “We are introducing an N29.9 billion listing under an N70 billion bond issuance cover; we will continue to raise funding to diversify our funding sources.
  • “The company remains passionate about feeding the nation to improve the quality of living for Nigerians through increased production and investments in backward integration.”

What you should know

  • With the successful issuance of the new N29.8bn Tranche A and Bonds, FMN has utilized its bond issuance program registered in 2018.
  • It is important to note that the Senior Unsecured bond listing includes an N4.89bn under Series 4 Tranche A of the bond issuance programme, at a 5.5% rate for 5 years, due by 2025, and a 25bn under Series 4 Tranche B of the same program at a 6.25% rate for a tenure of 7 years, due by 2027.
  • The bond proceeds will be used to refinance existing debt obligations. It will also help the company take collaborative actions to diversify the company’s financing options beyond expensive short term debt.

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Business

Lafarge moves to divest 35% shareholding in CBI Ghana

Lafarge Africa Plc has resolved to sell off its 35% shareholding in Continental Blue Investment Ghana Limited.

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Lafarge Africa provides grant for startups, Lafarge Africa’s latest earnings report reveals 8.5% decline in gross profit , Lafarge Africa gets new CFO one month after resignation of former finance director, Lafarge Plc reveals why it invited Italian man with Coronavirus to Nigeria, Lafarage Africa group Plc posts a revenue of N213 billion in 2019, profit up N17 billion, Lafarge moves to sell 35% shareholding in Continental Blue Investment Ghana Limited

The Board of Lafarge Africa Plc has resolved to sell off its 35% shareholding in Continental Blue Investment Ghana Limited, in order to cut down on costs impacting the Group’s profit.

This disclosure was made in a notification tagged- “Notice of Divestment in Continental Blue Investment Ghana Limited”, which was issued by the Company Secretary, Mrs. Adewunmi Alode.

According to the statement, the Board of Directors of the Group made the decision to divest its 35% shareholding in Continental Blue Investment Ghana Limited (“CBI Ghana”), in line with the resolutions made at the emergency board meeting which held yesterday 20th, January 2020.

This move was made to set off the cement manufacturer on the path of sustainable growth and profitability, as Lafarge’s investment in CBI Ghana has depleted significantly over the years.

What you should know

  • This is not the first time the company has had to sell off an unproductive investment in an effort to cut down on deadweight cost, as key players in the Cement industry like BUA and Dangote Cement continue to show strength and resilience through their effective cost minimization strategy which worked well in 2020.
  • Recall that in August 2019, Lafarge Africa sold off all its stakes in Lafarge South Africa Holdings (LSAH). This move helped the company to cut down costs coming from its South African subsidiary, which had been making billions of naira worth of losses for years.

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Companies

Multiverse forecasts N39.5 million profit in Q1 2021

The management of Multiverse Plc has projected a revenue of N76 million and a profit of N39.5 million in Q1 2021.

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Multiverse Mining and Exploration Plc has projected that in the first quarter of 2021, the mining and exploration company will generate N76 million in revenue, and post a profit of N39.5 million.

These projections were made by the company in a recent earnings forecast issued by the Management, and signed by the Corporate Secretaries of the company.

Key highlights of the earnings forecast for Q1 2021

  • Total revenue is projected at N76 million.
  • Turnover from agency sale is projected at N1 million.
  • Agency cost is s projected at N850 thousand.
  • Total expenses are projected at N7.8 million.
  • Operating Profit is projected at N67.3 million.
  • EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxation) is projected at N67.3 million.
  • Interest Expense is projected at N27.8 million.
  • Profit after tax is projected at N39.5 million.

Key assumptions made to support the earnings forecast and projection of the company

The earnings forecast was made on the ground that there won’t be any significant change in the economic policies of the Federal Government, while the monetary policies of the CBN would not be altered significantly.

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The company also maintained that there would not be any industrial unrest that would affect its production and sales volume, while the profit of the company would not be pressured by rising costs of inputs, as prices of materials used in production shall be stable in the period under review.

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