There is no gainsaying the fact that the Nigerian banking sector will experience a slowed-growth phase this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the economy. Several reports have been pointing to this sad reality, with the latest being Fitch Solutions’ Nigeria Banking & Financial Services Report for Q3 2020.
The 57-paged report made some very vital forecasts for Nigerian banks, one of them being that high inflation and increased government borrowing will be responsible for much of the headwinds to banks’ profitability in the medium term. In other words, even though these banks are expected to grow in the medium term, the rate of growth will be determined by the effects of inflation and government’s borrowing from the banks.
“Nigeria’s banking sector is set to grow over the medium and long term, with a slowing of growth in 2020, supported by new lending requirements which will help boost growth. However, we expect high inflation and government borrowing to provide strong headwinds to growth over the medium term,” part of the report said.
In the meantime, Fitch Solutions has revised its earlier 2020 growth forecast for Nigerian banks, including their total banking asset growth. The decision to change the earlier forecast was made out of consideration for the economic shortfalls caused by the pandemic.
Note that Nigeria’s adoption of the IFRS 9 accounting standards for bad loans had considerably helped to improve asset quality in the banking sector. As a matter of fact, the ratio of non-performing loans (particularly those in the oil and gas sector) had declined by as much as 40.7% between Q4 2018 and Q4 2019. Unfortunately, the pandemic and the dramatic fall in oil prices earlier this year, all combined to negate the recent recorded success. This is why banks’ asset quality is projected to deteriorate this year, according to Fitch Solutions. This will also make banks become more cautious about lending.
“We continue to expect the changed minimum loan requirement to help drive client loan growth over the medium term. We have revised our growth forecast from the previous quarter and expect client loans to reach NGN14.9trn in 2020 with growth of 2.5% from 2019.
“Due to economic headwinds caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we have revised our forecast for total banking asset growth to 5.3% to NGN44.2trn. Over the medium term, we see average annual asset growth of 12.0% to NGN63.8trn by 2024.
“Following the adoption of the IFRS 9 accounting standards for bad loans, including the transition that will protect banks’ capital adequacy ratios, asset quality in Nigeria has improved. Nigeria’s ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) tied to the oil sector declined by 40.7% from Q418 to Q419 as oil exports rose by 16.1% in 2019. In turn, the total NPL ratio fell from 11.7% to 6.0% over this period. However, due to the combined economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and lower oil price, we expect asset quality to deteriorate this year, making banks more cautious about lending.”
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Below are the other key forecasts made by Fitch Solutions concerning the Nigerian banking sector:
- At Fitch Solutions, we forecast a deceleration of client loan growth from 14.0% y-o-y in 2019 to 2.5% in 2020, before a small pickup to and 4.3% in 2021. Downside risks are elevated due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a weakened oil sector.
- Demand for credit is set to weaken amid reduced economic activity and elevated uncertainty among consumers and businesses while deteriorating asset quality will make banks more cautious in issuing loans.
- Increased government borrowing from domestic banks will help to support asset growth over the coming years. That said, there are risks of this crowding out private borrowers from receiving credit, hampering the economy’s long-term recovery.
CBN gives approval for Stirling Trust to start offering cash-in-transit services
Stirling Trust Company Limited specialises in financial services, investment, logistics & human capital management services.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved Stirling Trust Company Limited’s bid to commence cash-in-transit operations in the country.
The approval, which became effective in April this year, was just recently announced by the apex bank in a circular that was signed by the Director of Currency Operations Department, Ahmed B Umar, and addressed to all deposit money banks as well as all licensed CITs and CPCs in the country.
The circular also encouraged all respective stakeholders to “assist” Stirling Trust Company Limited in the discharge of their new duty. The circular said:
“Please be informed that Stirling Trust Company Limited has been granted approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commence Cash-in-Transit operations in Nigeria with effect from April 23, 2020.
“kindly accord Stirling Trust Company Limited all necessary assistance in the discharge of their functions as Cash-in-Transit service provider.”
Stirling Trust Company Limited, which is a Lagos-based company incorporated in 1989, specialises in financial services, investment, logistics & human capital management services. Following its newest license, the company will now utilise its state-of-the-art armored vehicles (bullion vans) to transport cash across the country. Already, Stirling Trust Company Limited has a notable list of clientele which include First Bank of Nigeria Limited.
It should be noted that cash-in-transit operation is very critical to the Nigerian economy, as cash needs to be constantly moved around in order to keep the economy running.
Why African Alliance has not released its FY 2019 and Q1 2020 results
The company was originally supposed to release the full-year 2019 financial statements in March this year.
African Alliance Insurance Plc announced yesterday that the reason it has been unable to file its audited financial statements for full-year 2019 and unaudited financial statements for Q1 2020 is that the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has not given approval to this effect.
The insurance firm was supposed to have released the full-year 2019 financial statements since March this year. However, it obtained permission from the Nigerian Stock Exchange to extend the deadline to June 30th, 2020. Interestingly, the FY 2019 financial report was not still filed within the extension period due to the reason stated above.
The company said it is deeply regretful of the inconvenience this delay may have caused its stakeholders. In the meantime, it is working towards ensuring that the financial statements are filed latest by the end of July. Some parts of a statement issued by the company said:
“African Alliance Insurance Plc wishes to notify its esteemed shareholders and other stakeholders that the Company’s Audited financial statements for the year ended 31st December 2019 (AFS) together with the Unaudited financial statements for the period ended 31st March 2020 could not be filled within the period of the extension granted by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (30th June 2020).
“However, the Company has since concluded with the auditing of its accounts and has submitted same to its primary regulator (the National Insurance Commission) for approval. Regretfully, the Company is yet to obtain the approval of NAICOM, hence the delay.”
Note that the last earnings report by African Alliance was its unaudited Q4 2019 financial statements. The report showed that gross premium income for the period stood at N8.7 billion as against N6.8 billion during the comparable period in 2018. There was also a N6.5 billion loss for the period, compared to the N2.9 billion loss recorded in 2018.
African Alliance share price on the Nigerian Stock Exchange is currently N0.20. Year to date, the share price has remained unchanged.
Cornerstone Insurance’s board will meet July 22nd to consider 2 important issues
Directors typically meet to consider/approve financial statements before they are released.
Cornerstone Insurance Plc’s board of directors will meet on July 22nd to deliberate on two important company issues.
A public notice that was signed by the Company Secretary and issued to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), noted that the two main talking points at this meeting are the company’s unaudited Q2 2020 financial statements, and the proposed issuance of bonus shares to the company’s existing shareholders.
As you may well know, board members of many companies listed on the NSE are all scheduled to meet later this month, ahead of the release of these companies half-year 2020 earnings reports. Directors typically meet to consider/approve financial statements before they are released.
Meanwhile, between the time a company’s board of directors meet over their financial statements and the actual release of said financial statements, there is what is called “a closed period”. During this closed period, all persons with insider knowledge of the company’s affairs are prohibited from trading in the company’s stock.
In the case of Cornerstone Insurance Plc, a closed period on its stock will start from tomorrow (July 7th, 2020) and will remain effective until 24 hours after the release of the company’s Q2 2020 financial statements. Note that no date was given for the release of the Q2 financial report.
“Accordingly, in line with the provisions of Rule 17.17: Closed Period, Rulebook of The Exchange, 2015 (Issuers’ Rule) and which has been incorporated into Sections 5 and 6 of the Company’s Securities Trading Policy, all Directors, Persons discharging managerial responsibility, Adviser(s) of the Company, or their connected persons shall not trade in the Company’s shares from Tuesday, July 7th, 2020 until 24 hours after the release of the Company’s Unaudited Financial Statements for the Second Quarter ended June 30, 2020 to the NSE and the general public,” part of the statement by the company said.
Recall that Nairametrics reported some months ago that Cornerstone Insurance Plc was in merger talks with some insurance companies ahead of the recapitalization deadline set by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM). The company’s Group Managing Director, Ganiyu Musa, disclosed that consolidation is a more viable option towards meeting NAICOM’s recapitalisation requirement.
It is uncertain, at this point, if the company is still considering a merger as a viable option. This is because in March 2020, Nairametrics reported that Cornerstone Insurance Plc is one of the insurance firms that have resorted to selling off their real estate properties in order to raise money. The reported had quoted the MD discussing how his company “took the big decision to sell the property which we did at a very handsome price. And just in one fell swoop, it resolved many issues. We now have a significant amount of liquidity, we do not have the headache of recapitalisation and we have done what the regulator wants, which is to convert any property to cash.”
Meanwhile, NAICOM has since postponed the recapitalisation deadline to September 2021 due to the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Note that the company reported a gross premium income of N4.6 billion in Q1 2020, compared to N4.8 billion in Q1 2019. However, profit for the period stood at N475.1 million, as against a loss after tax of N98.4 million during the comparable period in 2019.
The company’s stock opened today’s trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange with a share price of N0.50. Year to date, the stock has gained roughly about 20%.