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Financial Services

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.

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Cornerstone Insurance Plc

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.

READ ALSO: Cornerstone Insurance Plc appoints new Executive Director

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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.

READ MORE: Dark Clouds loom for investors as stocks fall 8% in first half of 2020

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.

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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%.

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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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Company Results

Sterling Bank reveals N215 billion sequestered by CBN as CRR Debits

Sterling Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s tier 2 banks reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s CBN restricted about N215.5 billion of its customer deposits as of June 2020.

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Sterling Bank

Sterling Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s tier 2 banks reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s CBN restricted about N215.5 billion of its customer deposits as of June 2020.

The bank reported this in its 2020 half-year interim results published on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. According to the data, Sterling Bank’s confirmed the amount of its customer deposits now held by the CBN is about N215.5 billion and explained it “represent mandatory reserve deposits and are not available for use in the bank’s day-to-day operations” which can be interpreted as Cash Reserve Requirement “CRR”.

READ ALSO: CBN debits banks another N459.7 billion for failure to meet CRR target

Sterling Bank Data

  • Deposits from Customers – N915.3b (N892. 6billion)
  • Loans to customers – N615 billion (Dec 2019: N618.7 billion)
  • Sterling Bank CRR – N215.5 billion (Dec 2019: N122.1 billion)
  • Sterling Bank got debited N93 billion so far this year
  • This breaks down to about N71.1 billion and N21.9 billion debited in the first and second quarters respectively.
  • CRR as a percentage of deposits as at June 2020 – 23.5%

READ MORE: As AMCON nears possible ‘liquidation’, what should we expect?

CBN CRR Policy

The central bank of Nigeria increased its cash reserve requirement (CRR) to 27.5% from 22.5% at the monetary policy committee meeting held on January 23rd to 24th. The CRR is the amount the CBN debits from banks accounts in compliance with its monetary policy objective of mandatorily keeping cash on behalf of banks. The amount is not available for banks to use.

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Sterling Bank Results

The Bank also published its 2020 second-quarter results showing net interest income was up 16% to N18 billion.

  • Pre-tax profits also rose 24% YoY to N3.3 billion despite the Covid-19 pandemic induced economic lockdowns.
  • Despite the improved profits, the bank did report a spike in its provisions for impairments jumping almost 3 folds to N5.3 billion.
  • To put this into context, Sterling Bank suffered an impairment of N5.8 billion in the whole of 2019.
  • Sterling Bank’s cost to income ratio remains high at about 86%.

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FEATURED

3 major ways COVID-19 will affect Banks’ 2020 profits

The oil price crash coupled with border closures have worsened Nigeria’s FX deficit.

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Q1 2020, Disrupting Nigerian banks, Evolution of Nigerian banks in 59-years , GTB, UBA, Zenith, Access Banks’ salary advance loans, Can a company operate without a website in 2019? , Banks refund N3.09 billion to customers over claims on excess charges, fraud, others  , Bank CEOs applaud NCC’s decision to suspend USSD charges, GTBank, Zenith, Access, FBN, 10 others spend over N8 billion on CSR, Banking: Evolving trends in the bankers’ market, GTBank, Access, FBNH, Standard Chartered wrestle over women entrepreneurs , GTBank, Access Bank, Zenith, FBN, 16 others disburse CBN’s N610.4 billion to farmers , Credit to government declines, as Credit to private sector hits N25.8 trillion, Banking sector NPLs down, loans up, Non-Performing Loans in Agriculture, construction, others rose to N143.76 billion, Asset seizure: Banks begins recovery of N6.125 trillion borrowed to the oil sector, Customer Experience: GTB, FCMB, Citibank, others emerge best banks in 2019, Nigeria’s top 5 banks spent more than N40 billion on adverts in 2019, Nigerian banks face risky future over low oil prices, coronavirus, Testing the financial strength of Nigerian banks

The last has definitely not been heard of the economic impact of COVID-19, despite the seeming normalcy that is beginning to return to the economy post lockdown. The Nigerian banking industry, which has consistently been the most profitable single sector traded on the NSE and accounts for over 50% of investors’ stock traded daily, may be set for hard times ahead notwithstanding their 2020 Q1 profits and their best efforts to adapt to the new normal.

From the shutting down of the economy for months to the closing of borders and business offices of banks, here are the 3 major ways in which COVID-19 will affect the 2020 profits of Nigeria’s Lenders:

  • Increase in impairment and bad loans

Impairments are an additional financial cost to the lender resulting from the reduction in the creditworthiness of the borrower while bad loans are literally loans that have gone… Bad (you guessed that). Whereas bad loans are to be written off completely by the lender, impairments are deductions that should reflect in financials of the lender pending when the loans become active.

In the wake of the pandemic, the CBN took proactive measures to ensure that Banks are protected from ruinous impairments by approving the request of the Lenders to restructure loans in their books allowing more time for debtors to pay.

Notwithstanding this initiative, loans (especially in the retail space) would most likely end up being written off as unemployment rates soar and the economy slowly recovers from the effects of the pandemic. Education, aviation, and the oil and gas sector do not seem on the path of recovery yet, and their delay would most likely cost lenders with sizable exposures in their respective industries.

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  • FX scarcity and Liquidity squeeze

These two sides of the same coin are causing painful gut-wrenching groans to be heard in the Banking sector, especially amongst lower-tiered Banks.

The oil price crash coupled with border closures have worsened Nigeria’s FX deficit and caused the CBN to employ unconventional means and policies to stabilize the Naira, even after a long-awaited devaluation.

Banks who are unable to meet the FX needs of their customers rush “cap in hand” to the CBN to get FX intervention for their corporate customers for whom the exorbitant parallel market rate is not an option. Instead of getting their requests met, their positions are debited and added to their CRR forcing them to reduce their FX demands and leave their customers dissatisfied. While this may lead to loss of deposit from these customers taking their businesses elsewhere, the major issue the Banks have with this discretionary CRR, is the foregone earnings that their extra CRR would have earned in the money market or through commercial loans.

Over N2trillion has been arbitrarily debited from Nigerian lenders since April in tranches of N1.4trillion, N300billion and N459.7billion causing some banks to have CRR in excess of the 27.5% agreed upon by the CBN Monetary Policy Committee in January 0f 2020.

The depreciating Naira is also inimical to Banks with FX denominated bonds, and is expected to impact their bottom line.

  • The macro economy and unfair competition

The relationship between Banks and the economy is complex. They are the gauge through which the pulse of the economy is felt, and the channel through which its life force can be restored. At no time is this complex relationship more evident than during severe economic strain, such as this pandemic. It is at this time that the Banks experience unfair competition from their regulators who are forced to provide direct, and cheaper funding to the economy sacrificing short term profitability of the Banks for long term sustainability of the economy.

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In the wake of the pandemic, the CBN has provided series of intervention funds, ranging from the N50b household support, to the Agric fund, CIFI and MSME support funds at single interest rates, lower than the commercial Banks can afford.

Although the commercial Banks are listed as PFI (Performing Financial Institutions) for most of these funds, the commissions they stand to earn are in no way comparable to what it would have been had they been the direct lenders at commercial rates. This arrangement would definitely impact their creation of new risk assets and the accompanying income that would have found its way to their annual profit.

It’s not all gloom though, Bankers who chose to speak off-record claimed that the lockdown played a key role in increasing enrolments on their online platforms and the timing of the nationwide cashless policy was a “masterstroke” in ensuring that customers bought into e-channel transactions on which the Banks would earn fees and commissions. They claim that the pandemic also offered some Banks a rare opportunity to prune their operations cost without alarming their customers, as they were able to shut down not too profitable branches in some locations and redeploy their staff accordingly.

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A top Treasury official in one of the new generations Banks who sought anonymity said that Banks who have earned income in FX prior to the pandemic would enjoy revaluation profit, but was quick to add that this little margin would not offset their loss of income from Letters of credit not done due to border closures, nor will it write off the rate decline in risk-free investments of Banks buying Government Bonds.

With increased cost for operational branches due to adaptability to COVID-19 protocols amongst other things, it remains to be seen how Nigerian Banks would fare in this remarkable year. Their H1 results should give more insight.

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Financial Services

FBN Holdings announces N25 billion capital injection into FirstBank

The fresh equity capital injection is coming on the heels of FBN Holdings’ recent divestment from FBN Insurance.

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FBN holdings plc, First Bank

N25 billion worth of equity capital has been injected into First Bank of Nigeria Limited by its parent company, FBN Holdings Plc. The move is coming on the heels of FBN Holdings’ recent divestment from FBN Insurance Ltd.

A statement signed by FBN Holdings’ Company Secretary, Seye Kosoko, as seen on the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s website, noted that the N25 billion is part of the net proceeds from the recent divestment from  FBN Insurance Limited.

READ MORE: Nigeria’s tier-1 banks earn N18.4 billion from account maintenance charges in Q1 2020

Following this N25 billion capital injection, First Bank of Nigeria Limited’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) has increased to 16.53%. This is before capitalising year to date profit for half-year 2020.

More details: While commenting on this development, FBN Holdings’ Chief Financial Officer, Oyewale Ariyibi, said that the “divestment has unlocked significant value embedded in the former subsidiary which is being leveraged to strengthen the core baning business for which the Group is renowned.”

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The company also explained that the overriding objective of these recent moves is to “optimise capital across the Group to drive business growth, enhance efficiency, and improve overall shareholders’ value.”

READ MORE: More banks, insurance firms declare closed periods ahead of H1 results release

The backstory: Back in April this year, FBN Holdings Plc first disclosed ongoing talks with Sanlam Emerging Markets (Proprietary) Ltd over a possible sell-off of its 65% stake in FBN Insurance to the South African firm. Fast-forward to early June, FBN Holdings again informed stakeholders that it had completed the divestment process. All the while, no mention was made about the value of the transaction until now.

Note that FBN Holdings Plc reported a profit after tax of N49.5 billion for the half-year period ended June 30th, 2020. This represents a 56.3% increase when compared with N31.6 billion reported in H1 2019. The company’s Chief Executive Officer, UK Eke, recently commented on performance, noting that “the H1 2020 financial results are impressive and reconfirm our consistent focus on enhanced shareholder value.”

READ MORE: Here’s how much banks spent on advertising & marketing in Q1 2020

FBN Holdings’ share price on the Nigerian Stock Exchange is currently trading at N5.05. The company has a market capitalisation of about N181.3 billion, according to information gleaned from Bloomberg.

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