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Business News

CBN debits banks N8.3 trillion as CRR in 2020

The Central Bank debited banks a whopping N8.3 trillion as CRR provisions in 2020 up 58% YoY.

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parallel market, Covid-19: N3.5 trillion disbursed as stimulus package for the Nigerian economy, CBN Vs NESG: Waving the white flag for the benefit of Nigerians, Exchange Rate Unification: CBN devalues official rate to N380/$1, Nigerian banks have written off N1.9 trillion impaired loans in past 4 years, CBN sandbox operations, Stirling Trust Company Limited, Key highlights of the October 2020 Business Expectations Survey Report, A Total of N3.5 trillion was disbursed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to several other interventions to reflate the economy - CBN, BOFIA 2020: Steps forward or backwards for Nigerian banks, Total credit to the economy rose to N19.54trillion – CBN Governor

Commercial banks in Nigeria suffered CRR debits of N8.3 trillion in the financial year ended December 2020. This represents a 59% increase from the N5.2 trillion debited in 2019.

 

Nairametrics confirmed this data from the financial statements of all commercial banks listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and excludes banks not listed, suggesting the amount could be closer to N9 trillion. Nigeria’s largest banks “FUGAZ” suffered the most debits with about N5.9 trillion in debits in 2020, over 70% of the total debits. Except for Unity Bank, all the banks have released their full-year earnings for 2020. 

READ: Analysis: GTB is minting profits but CBN is squeezing its cash

CRR Debits deducted from commercial bank deposits in 2020.
Source: Nairalytics Research.

Private-sector lending rises

The CRR is an abbreviation for Cash Reserve Ratio and is a monetary policy tool used by the Central Bank of Nigeria to control money supply in the economy. The central bank increased the CRR from 22.5% to 27.5% in January 2020 a decision it explained was because they wanted banks to lend more to the private sector. 

  • The CRR empowers the central bank to sequester up 27.5% of customer deposits held by commercial banks, effectively restricting the banks from accessing the money. The restrictions impact significantly on the ability of some banks to generate interest income reducing the margins that banks can make in a given period.
  • The CRR debits are derived via a complex calculation involving a balance between a minimum loan to deposit ratio banks are expected to achieve and what they have in their balance sheet as cash deposits.
  • Banks that fall below the CBN’s loan to deposit ratio requirement of 65% have the full weight of the CRR imposed on them.

READ: CBN says bank credit grew by N290 billion in 6 weeks as lending rates drop

Banks have secretly complained bitterly about the level of CRR debits highlighting the effects it has on their bottom line especially Net Interest Margins. The year 2020 was also characterized by lower interest rate environment as banks earned much lower from Treasury Bills and other risk-free government securities.  

What they are saying

Despite the claims, Net Interest margins for the commercial banks under review blew past N2 trillion for the first time in 2021 as lower cost of funds helped cushion the effects of lower interest rate environment and limited access to OMO securities. For example, GT Bank remarked in its investor presentation that it was able to mitigate the impact of CRR from sources such as revaluation of its foreign assets.

“CRR increase of 127.4% (₦565.1bn), funded through improved Naira liquidity largely from OMO maturities impaired the Group’s ability to take maximum advantage of opportunities to optimize its earnings potential. The Bank was however able to cushion the impact of CRR on earnings through optimization of its US$ liquidity and Revaluation Gains. The Bank benefitted from the US$1.15bn long position owing to devaluation of Naira against US$.” GTB

READ: CBN reportedly suspends Paystack and other non-bank financial institutions from offering BVN validation services

Zenith Bank also confirmed the impact of lower yield environment on their net interest margin in 2020 when they released their 2020 full year results.

“This retail drive, coupled with the low-interest yield environment helped reduce our cost of funding from 3.0% to 2.1% and also reduced our interest expense. However, the low-interest environment also affected net interest margin, which declined from 8.2% to 7.9% in the current year due to the re-pricing of interest-bearing assets.” Zenith Bank

One of the reasons cited by the CBN for introducing this policy in 2019 was to reduce the amount of customer deposits commercial banks were channeling into treasury bills as against lending to the private sector. Since its introduction, lending to the private sector has increased to N30.6 trillion from N26 trillion, data from the CBN’s monetary credit stats reveal.

Another reason cited by experts as an impetus for the CRR is the CBN’s capital control strategy where it limits the amount of naira available for banks to engage in illegal forex roundtripping by arbitraging from the disparity between the parallel market rates and the official rates.

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READ: CBN says bank credit grew by N290 billion in 6 weeks as lending rates drop

What CBN does with the money?

Despite the CBN’s official claims that the CRR is required to help stimulate lending to the private sector, critics believe there is more to it.

In conversation with Nairametrics, Critics of the central bank’s CRR Policy who prefer to remain anonymous suggest some of the CRR debited from the banks are used to fund the Federal Government’s revenue shortfalls via the controversial Ways and Means provision of the apex bank. According to the CBN over N10 trillion has been extended to the Federal Government via Ways and Means since 2019, the highest on record.

READ: CBN reportedly suspends Paystack and other non-bank financial institutions from offering BVN validation services

To repay the money, the CBN in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance announced the introduction of “Special Bills” a fixed income security that offers commercial banks a window to earn an income on their balances held by the CBN. Some of the features of the Special Bills include the following;

  1. It has a Tenor of 90 days
  2. It comes with Zero coupon, as the applicable yield at issuance will be determined by the CBN.
  3. The instrument will be tradable amongst banks, retail and institutional investors.
  4. The instrument shall not be accepted for repurchase agreement transactions with the CBN and shall not be discountable at the CBN window.
  5. The instrument will qualify as liquid assets in the computation of liquidity ratio for deposit money banks.

Data from the FMDQ OTC reveals Special Bills maturing in 52 days are currently trading at a yield of 5.43% as of Friday.

Nairametrics is Nigeria's top business news and financial analysis website. We focus on providing resources that help small businesses and retail investors make better investing decisions. Nairametrics is updated daily by a team of professionals. Post updated as "Nairametrics" are published by our Editorial Board.

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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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Spotlight Stories

Tip Jar, Twitter’s new giveaway feature that lets users send money to you

Twitter has introduced a new feature called Tip Jar that allows you send money to your favourite tweeters.

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US Elections: Twitter, Facebook suspend several news accounts

Twitter has introduced a new feature called Tip Jar that allows you send money to your favourite tweeters.

According to the blog post, “Tip Jar is an easy way to support the incredible voices that make up the conversation on Twitter. This is a first step in our work to create new ways for people to receive and show support on Twitter – with money.”

The new feature utilizes different payment platforms like PayPal, Venmo, Patreon, CashApp, and others.

Users can link their Twitter accounts with Tip Jar to any of these payment providers. Twitter takes no cut.

READ: Facebook is creating an audio chat product similar to Clubhouse

You’ll know an account’s Tip Jar is enabled if you see a Tip Jar icon next to the Follow button on their profile page. Tap the icon, and you’ll see a list of payment services or platforms that the account has enabled. Select whichever payment service or platform you prefer and you’ll be taken off Twitter to the selected app where you can show your support in the amount you choose.

Twitter has released series of features this year as part of its efforts to grow Twitter’s user base to 315 million daily active users by the end of 2023.

The company also launched Twitter crop where images don’t get crop again on Twitter for Android or iOS. Standard aspect ratio images (16:9 and 4:3) will now display in full without any cropping and images will look just like they did when you shot them.

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READ: Does YouTube stand a chance against TikTok?

Lauren Alexander, a Twitter spokesperson said, “Today’s launch is a direct result of the feedback people shared with us last year that the way our algorithm cropped images wasn’t equitable, The new way of presenting images decreases the platform’s reliance on automatic, machine learning-based image cropping.”

Twitter has tested several features and more will be rolled out soon.

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