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Financial Services

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.

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NAICOM

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.

(READ MORE: NAICOM gives insurance companies additional one year to recapitalise)

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.

Johnson is a risk management professional and banker with unbridled passion for research and writing. He graduated top of the class with B.sc Statistics from the University of Nigeria and an MBA degree with specialization in Finance from Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, with fellowships from the Association of Enterprise Risk management Professionals(FERP) and Institute of Credit and Collections management of Nigeria (FICCM). He is currently pursuing his PhD in Risk management in one of the top-rated universities in the UK.

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Financial Services

How to invest in Nigerian Eurobonds

Before investing in Eurobonds, weigh the bond’s risk characteristics and set them against the interest rate to know if it is worth it.

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Treasury Market T-bills, African Finance Corp. issues $750 million 7-year Eurobond at lowest yield to date

As of 2019, Nigeria’s Eurobonds were regarded as one of the top 5 best-performing Eurobonds in the world.

Although Nigeria’s Eurobonds remain one of the most profitable in the investment world, not many individuals know how to invest in them. The Federal Government and a number of corporate organisations in the country subscribe to Eurobonds and issue them quite often, lending credence to their attractiveness as an investment tool.

What is Eurobond?

Basically, Eurobonds are financial instruments issued by a country or corporate organisation in a currency different from the currency of the issuer.

Nigeria typically issues Eurobond instruments denominated in US dollars. For example, the 6.75% $500 million January 2021 Eurobond was denominated in US dollars.

There is the sovereign, which is referred to as a government bond, and the corporate bond. Eurobonds operate like fixed income securities in terms of bond instruments. It has a coupon, an interest rate paid on bonds (which is paid bi-annually), a price at which the bond will be purchased, and also a yield.

The price and yield have an inverse relationship meaning that when the price goes up, the yield comes down. When the yield is coming down, the instrument is trading at a premium compared to when it was issued.

An investor can buy Eurobonds while the primary auction is ongoing or later, at the secondary market, for those who were unable to participate in the primary auction.

READ: Nigeria’s Eurobond yield hit 12.8% as investors flee emerging markets

How to invest in Nigerian Eurobonds

The process of investing in Eurobonds in Nigeria is not any different from that of investing in local bonds. Both bonds can be bought from either the primary market at the initial offer level or at the secondary market for existing bonds.

All that is required is for the investor to complete the tender for the Federal Government of Nigeria or corporate bonds form, submit the tender through any of the authorized dealers and make the required payment when the bid is successful.

Basically, for banks, your account has to be funded with the desired currency. For instance, to buy a dollar-denominated Eurobond which is the conventional one issued in Nigeria, you have to fund your account with dollars, then send an instruction for the bond purchase.

READ: FG redeems $500 million Eurobond

Be mindful of the bond’s risk profile before investing

Eurobonds can either be corporate or government bonds. Corporate bonds may offer higher interest rates than government-issued Eurobonds but they also come with higher risk.

If you want to invest in Eurobonds, ensure that you weigh the risk characteristics of the bonds and set them against the interest rate to know if it is worth it. Most Eurobonds come with credit ratings, which serve as a measure of their quality and risk profile.

Usually, bonds with the highest quality credit ratings come with the lowest yields while bonds with lower credit ratings offer higher yields. The yield, in this sense, is a measure of the bond issuer’s creditworthiness meaning that the greater the credit risk on an investment, the higher the yield investors would demand to compensate for it.

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READ: Investing in Nigerian Bonds – A Beginners Guide

How to obtain an FG Eurobond

When bonds are issued at the primary market, the issuance document contains a list of the banks or brokers that have been authorized to sell the bonds. The FGN issued bonds are purchased through the Primary Dealer Market Makers (PDMMs). These are banks appointed by the Debt Management Office (DMO), to act as authorized dealers of FGN bonds.

Can you fund a Eurobond with a naira account?

Not at the moment! You need a dollar account (domiciliary account) that is funded but your bank can easily guide you on how to obtain one.

Next is to fill out instruction documents after which the bank will send you a market price and the expected yield. The bank then debits your account for the purchase. Every six months or on the specified coupon dates, you will receive your coupon and at maturity, you will get your principal back if the issuer does not default. A coupon or coupon payment is the annual interest rate paid on a bond, expressed as a percentage of the face value and paid from the issue date until maturity.

READ: How to read stock market tables

Here is a simplified example of the process:

You walk into a branch of your bank and ask to purchase $100,000 worth of Eurobonds. Note that your domiciliary account should already be funded with the amount. You would be required to fill out and sign the letter of instruction which would then be sent to the bank’s treasury unit for processing. The treasury unit responds with the available Eurobond prices and requests you to confirm the purchase. When that is done, the treasury unit executes the deal and holds it in their custody.

You can also sell the bonds at the secondary market.

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Minimum investment as an individual

The minimum conventional investment tranche is $200,000, but a $100,000 worth of investment is also permissible. Amounts lower than this are however problematic because the secondary market trades in tranches of $200,000.

READ: Your “beard gang” is affecting the valuation of this global firm

Can people invest through mutual funds?

Basically, what mutual funds do is amass investors’ funds and buy Eurobonds in the secondary market. A mutual fund is just like a vehicle that helps you to buy bonds so that you are not faced with the issuer’s risk directly. Therefore, individuals or institutions can also buy Eurobonds through mutual funds.

Mutual funds make it possible for you to participate in bond-buying with less than the statutory amount since they operate by pooling resources together from a large number of investors.

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Financial Services

Ratings agency, Moody’s reveals it is reviewing First Bank’s ratings

Moody’s explained why it might downgrade First Bank’s ratings.

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Moody’s Ratings agency said on Thursday that it has put First Bank of Nigeria on review for a downgrade after the central bank sacked the board of directors and replaced them with new directors.

Moody’s made this statement in a report titled ‘Removal of Non-Executive Board Members Highlights Governance Shortcomings.’

In a quote, Moody’s said:

“Moody’s Investors Service, (“Moody’s”) has today placed all long-term ratings and assessments of First Bank of Nigeria Limited (First Bank) on review for downgrade. The review will focus primarily on an assessment of evolving governance considerations at First Bank, specifically corporate governance developments. The rating action follows the dissolution of First Bank’s board by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the bank’s primary regulator, on 29 April 2021. As a result of this action by the CBN, all the non-executive directors were removed while the executive management remained in place.”

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, had last week announced the sack of the entire board of directors of FBN Holdings Plc and its subsidiary, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd following the initial removal of its MD/CEO Dr Sola Adeduntan. Following his sacking of the board, he set up a new board for the bank holding company and its subsidiary and also reinstated Adeduntan as MD/CEO.

Moody’s mentioned that the regulatory actions demanded of First Bank by the CBN introduces a clould of uncertainty over the outlook of the bank. For example, the CBN had asked the bank to divest from its holdings in two listed companies while also recovering its loans from one of them.

“The review for possible downgrade reflects the rating agency’s view that the removal of all non-executive directors of the bank’s board by the regulator demonstrates corporate governance shortcomings and weaknesses in board oversight. The bank also needs to implement regulatory directives concerning the resolutions of loans to, and shareholding in non-banking related parties, which reportedly had not been executed in the recent past.

Moody’s notes that the outcomes of these developments are uncertain at this point, and the final and long-term governance, reputational and financial implications of the events for First Bank are also unclear.”

The central bank directive sacking the board of the bank also retained its executive management perhaps suggesting that the CBN had confidence in the ability of the MD and his team to manage the bank. Moody’s also noted this in its briefing.

“While the bank’s executive management team remained the same, the rating agency believes these developments could distract management’s focus on implementing the bank’s strategic plan and road to recovery. First Bank management’s immediate key target was to reduce nonperforming loans (NPLs) to levels comparable with domestic peers. The rating agency recognises that, in the context of asset risks, the bank took steps to reduce its stock of problem loans, with its reported NPL ratio falling to 7.7% at year-end 2020 from 25.9% in 2018.”

Will Moody’s downgrade First Bank?

The rating agency explained that the decision to downgrade will depend on how strong the bank’s corporate governance structure is and whether the CBN will impose additional sanctions. If any of these crystallizes, it could downgrade its ratings.

“The bank’s long-term deposit ratings can be downgraded if flaws in the bank’s governance systems exist, and if the CBN imposes additional sanctions on the bank, including, but not limited to, conditions to address any vulnerabilities that may be discovered. Financial output that is less than anticipated could also result in a rating downgrade.”

Moody’s, however, poured water on any optimism around a rating upgrade.

Given the review for downgrade and the pessimistic outlook on the government of Nigeria, there is a slim chance that First Bank’s ratings will be upgraded. Stronger solvency progress than currently reflected in the ratings, combined with a stabilization of the sovereign outlook, could result in the outlook being stabilized.

Why is rating important?

Corporate Organizations desire positive ratings because of the effect it has on their ability to raise capital as well as the cost of capital. A high credit rating typically attracts positive investor sentiments helping organizations tap the debt and equity markets, especially from institutional investors.

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