Zenith Bank’s board of directors is set to meet on July 23rd, 2020 to consider the tier-1 bank’s audited financial statements for half-year 2020. The directors will also consider “the proposal for recommendation of interim dividend for shareholders,” said a notice that was sent by the company to the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
In a similar development, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc said in a statement to the NSE that “issues relating to half-year dividend may also be discussed” when its board of directors meet later this month.
Zenith Bank and GTBank, which are two of the most profitable banks in Nigeria, have always paid interim dividends to their shareholders. However, analysts earlier predicted that many banks may hold off on dividend payments as a way of cutting down on costs, in view of COVID-19 and its attendant economic implications. It is, therefore, fascinating to see that Zenith Bank and GTBank are considering interim dividends nonetheless.
Elsewhere, banks around the world have either been warned not to pay dividends at all or to be careful with dividend payouts. In April, The Economic Times reported that the Reserve Bank of India advised Indian banks to suspend dividend payments in order to conserve their capital amid the pandemic. In a similar development, regulators in Europe also banned European banks from paying any dividend in 2020. In Australia, banks were advised to slash their dividend payouts. Meanwhile, over in North America, the US Federal Reserve announced in late June that it will temporarily restrict dividend payouts by some of the country’s biggest banks, the New York Times reported.
As Nairametrics had repeatedly reported, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to adversely impact different sectors of the Nigerian economy, including the financial institutions. An earlier report by Nairametrics quoted Augusto & Co to have predicted how the pandemic would weaken Nigerian banks’ assets. An April report by PwC also highlighted some of the ways COVID-19 could impact Nigerian banks.
In the meantime, the Banking Industry Risk Indicator (BIRI) in Nigeria stands at a score of 12.14 out of 100, according to a recent analysis by Fitch Solutions, as Nairametrics reported.
Do note that Zenith Bank Plc has declared a closed period for the trading in its stock starting from July 6th, 2020. The closed period will last until 24 hours after the company’s half-year 2020 financial report is released to the public. In the meantime, all persons with inside knowledge of Zenith Bank’s affairs shall be prohibited from buying and selling the company’s stock during the closed period.
Conventional insurance firms can now set up their Microinsurance department – NAICOM
NAICOM has issued a circular allowing conventional insurance companies in Nigeria to exploit the huge opportunities in the Microinsurance window.
The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has issued a circular (NAICOM/DPR/CIR/32/2020) allowing conventional insurance companies in Nigeria to exploit the huge opportunities in the Microinsurance window.
The circular was signed by Akah L M, Director (Policy & Regulations), and disclosed that the requirements for the conventional insurance firms to be granted approval for the window operation includes:
- The insurer shall seek and obtain approval of the Commission to transact microinsurance business.
- Board resolution approving the establishment of a microinsurance department.
- Applicant shall apply for window microinsurance national operation licence.
- The department shall be headed by an experienced Insurance Officer, not below the rank of an AGM.
- The Insurance Officer must possess a minimum of 7 years post Associate of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria qualification or a minimum of 10 years working experience in a technical department of an insurance institution.
- Any window operator shall segregate the financial records of its microinsurance business from that of the conventional business.
- Appropriate reinsurance arrangement shall be put in place.
What this means
The microinsurance window presents a gold mine waiting to be tapped by the conventional insurance firms in Nigeria, helping them to achieve critical mass in the market.
This would afford opportunities for those in informal sectors, as well as low-income people and households to enjoy insurance products and services that will protect them against unexpected events, that could threaten their livelihood and businesses.
CBN introduces “Special Bills” as part of efforts to control money supply in the economy
The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced the introduction of a Special Bill with unique features.
Nigeria central bank has announced the introduction of what it calls the “Nigeria Special Bills” in what it claims is an effort to deepen the financial markets.
The apex bank also claims the instrument avails it with an additional liquidity management tool for Nigeria’s financial system.
In a disclosure, signed by the Director of Banking Supervision of CBN, Bello Hassan, and seen by Nairametrics, it said the Special Bills contained the following features
- It has a Tenor of 90 days
- It comes with Zero coupon, as the applicable yield at issuance will be determined by the CBN.
- The instrument will be tradable amongst banks, retail and institutional investors.
- The instrument shall not be accepted for repurchase agreement transactions with the CBN and shall not be discountable at the CBN window.
- The instrument will qualify as liquid assets in the computation of liquidity ratio for deposit money banks.
The central bank, yanked off retail and instituional investors from accessing the highly lucrative Open Market Operations bills where yields were previously high. It is unclear if this bills will replace the OMO bills or is permamnent.
What this means: With the introduction of the new Special Bills, the CBN aims to securitize the excess Cash Reserve Requirement balances of local banks by offering them short-dated zero-coupon special bills.
- Since May 2020, the central bank has sequestered over N6 trillion as part of its CRR debits of the accounts of deposit banks.
- Nigeria’s central bank expects commercial banks to maintain a loan to deposit ratio of 65% and thus debits the accounts of commercial banks who do not meet this target for excess deposits.
- According to Nairametrica analysts, this new bill provides the banks with an instrument which they can offer to investors in exchange for a return. For example, the banks can sell the “Special Bills” to investors who need fixed income instrument.
Why it matters: The claims the Special Bills is in line with the “CBN’s goal of ensuring optimal regulation of systemic liquidity and promoting efficient financial markets in support of economic recovery and sustained growth,” however Nairametrics undertands there could be more to this.
However, Nairametrics believes pressure from the banks who have complained about the frequent debits may have resulted in this new Special Bills. In some of the earnings calls listened into by Nairametrics, banks have often cited the drop in their interest income and margins.
What they are saying: A part of the recent CBN disclosure read thus: “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) hereby announces the introduction of Special Bills as part of efforts to deepen the financial markets and avail the monetary authority with an additional liquidity management tool.”
What to expect: The CBN is expected to further clarify the issue and pricing of the recent instrument in coming days.
Fidelity Bank MD/CEO purchases 5 million additional shares worth N12.97 million
The MD/CEO Designate of Fidelity Bank Nigeria Plc has purchased an additional five million units of the bank’s shares.
The Managing Director/CEO Designate of Fidelity Bank Nigeria Plc, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe has purchased an additional five million units of the bank’s shares totalling N12.97million.
This is according to a notification, signed by the bank’s Secretary, Mr. Ezinwa Unuigboje, and sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange Market yesterday, as seen by Nairametrics.
What you should know
The breakdown of the disclosure showed that the transaction took place in five tranches with an average share price of N2.56.
- First tranche: 260,190 units of the bank’s share were bought at N2.52 each, amounting to N655,678.8
- Second tranche: 400,000 units of the bank’s share were bought at N2.55 each, amounting to N1.02million.
- Third tranche: 130,000 units of the bank’s share were bought at N2.58 each, amounting to N335,400.
- Fourth tranche: 2,870,000 units of the bank’s share were bought at N2.60, amounting to N7.46million.
- Fifth tranche: 1,339,810 units of the bank’s share were bought at N2.56, amounting to N3.43million.
In summary, the total transactions incurred by the MD in buying 5 million additional shares grossed N12.97million.
What this means
The recent corporate action indicates growing optimism in the bank’s future and potentials, which could be a pull factor to other investors.