- The CEO of Greenwich Merchant Bank said the government will need to embrace partnerships for infrastructure as debt is becoming too costly.
- He said the current situation in which the country is spending all its revenue on debt servicing will be corrected through this financing option.
- He said the bank has also been in talks with the federal and state governments to shift their attention to partnerships as opposed to debt.
The Managing Director of Greenwich Merchant Bank, Mr Bayo Rotimi, has said that the Nigerian government will now need to embrace partnerships more than relying on debts to address the challenge of infrastructure deficit in the country.
Speaking during a media chat in Lagos, Rotimi said with the current level of debt and the huge amount being spent annually on servicing it, the best option the country can adopt now in financing infrastructure is to look for investors that are willing to finance the projects under partnership agreements.
Rotimi, whose bank has been helping the federal government to raise funds for infrastructure, said several investors are willing to partner with the government in different sectors of the economy.
High cost of debt
While noting that Nigeria has a significant infrastructure deficit, Rotimi said the federal government, as well as the state governments, are not generating enough money to tackle the challenge.
- “You are all aware that the cost of servicing our debt has practically wiped away all of our revenues as a nation. So, it means that the only way critical infrastructure can happen is if the government embraces partnerships, and that is what we bring to the table.
- “We have a lot of strategic partnerships with local as well as foreign development finance institutions, strategic investors, and impact investors who are looking at specific sectors. Some of them only want to do housing. Some of them only want to do health care. Some of them only want to do hard infrastructure, the airports the seaports, and the toll roads,” he said.
Rotimi added that Nigeria as it stands currently does not have enough cash flow to keep borrowing. He said the bank has, therefore started advising the government on the need to embrace partnerships.
- “We’re bankers and one of the criteria for lending to somebody is what is the free cash? How much cash do they have to service this debt that they want to borrow? In Nigeria, our situation is that all of our revenue has gone towards debt servicing. So capital expenditure and social investments are suffering now.
- “But you know, in any situation there is always an opportunity to reset and to do things differently. So, for us as an institution, we’re not dwelling on the mistakes that have been made. We’re focused on how can we support the turnarounds. Now the beauty of this situation we are in is that the public sector counterparties that we deal with are now more receptive to sitting down and discussing,” he said.
He said the bank is currently advising one state government on the concession to have a total road and this is expected to be replicated in other states of the country when completed.
Funds raised for the government
While noting that Greenwich Merchant Bank had decided to focus on the alternative financing markets, including non-interest financing for such as the issuances of Sukuk instruments, he said the bank had raised more than $2 billion for the federal government over the last two years.
- “We have taken our alternative financing pedigree beyond just the federal government, we’ve gone into the private sector. So, we assisted a bank, the third non-interest bank to be licensed in Nigeria, Taj Bank. We are advising them on a 100 billion naira fundraising programme.
- “We’re proud of what we’ve done also to support the federal government in the housing sector. For the Family Homes Fund, we have issued two back-to-back Sukuk for them. Both of them over-subscribed, again making an impact while deepening the financial markets. This year, we will take one other Islamic Bank, a non-interest bank, to the market. So, Greenwich has established itself as a leader in the issuance of non-interest financial products,” he said.
Owned by reputable corporate and private investors, Greenwich Merchant Bank was incorporated in February 1992 as Greenwich Trust Limited. It commenced operations in June 1994, providing investment banking and debt and equity market advisory services. It transitioned to a merchant bank in September 2020, following the receipt of its merchant banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
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