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Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s Most Innovative Banking Services Provider, has taken its campaign for concerted efforts for the growth of agribusiness and commerce in Nigeria to another level as it wants the bilateral agreement signed by Lagos and Kano States to provide for a Commodity Exchange.
The two states signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on yesterday at the Lagos-Kano Economic and Investment Summit held at the Jubilee Chalets, Epe, Lagos. The goal of the pact was to ensure the collaboration between the two states boost commerce and agribusiness and consequently increase the revenue generation by the states.
Speaking at the event during the plenary session on: Growth & Investment Opportunities in Agribusiness – Value Chain Approach, Olugbenga Awe, Group Head, Agric Financing, Heritage Bank, said there was an urgent need for the establishment of a Commodity Exchange; stating that it would provide the platform necessary for the success of the MoU signed by the states.
Awe said if the Exchange was established, it would make future contracts between traders and speculators in both states and others more possible and thereby enhance agribusiness in the country generally. Specifically, he stated that the establishment of a Commodity Exchange would help to put the activities of grain farmers and others in Dawanau market, Kano; and others in spotlight.
According to him, the volume of agribusiness and commerce going on daily in Dawanau market, which is the hub of grains and seeds trading across the world, needs to be complemented by appropriate policies.
Based on this, Awe advised the two states to ensure that the MoU they signed captures the establishment of a Commodity Exchange. Doing that, he stated, would make traceability possible for every produce traded on the floor of the exchange unlike now when grains sourced in Kano or Lagos could be sold and consumed in other part of the country without knowing its source.
Today, goods sourced at Dawanau are, daily, transported to Togo, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Ghana Central African Republic, South Africa, Libya and other African countries. Again, traders from Burma, Dubai, India, China, Britain, America, Saudi and other countries patronize the grains/seeds market for items like Moringa seed and leaf, Sesame seed, Hibiscus flower (Sobo) and other items such as Soya beans, Beans, Cassava, Millet, and Guinea corn without any credit given to their farmers and Nigeria.
Awe therefore said the Commodity Exchange would help to address issues like that, adding that it would also encourage farmers to put in more efforts in planting more grains. 
Similarly, Dr. Sani Hussaini Sagagi, Deputy Country Director, Sasakwa Africa Association, Nigeria; said any country that wants to progress must take cognizance of its population structure when formulating policies.
According to him, the Africa’s population would increase to 1.4 billion in the next 12 years, while it would be 2.5 billion in 2030. Sagagi warned that over 50% of that would be majorly young men and women who would choose to live in urban areas with the motive of getting white collar jobs. He disclosed that there would be food shortage and climate change, which would cause 50% yield reduction in agribusiness.
Sagagi therefore said the two state governments must, as from today, begin to put the mechanism in place to address the social menace that would arise because of the surge in populace. He expressed optimism that the agreement signed by Lagos and Kano States would help a lot in finding solace to the possible challenges that would arise in the future.
Also present at the occasion was Richard Sandall, Senior Private Sector Development Adviser, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). Sandall identified financing, security and land as some of the challenges militating against smooth agribusiness in Africa. However, he said the DFID was established with the aim of supporting Africa to address issues like that.
Sandall stated: “Apart from working on alleviating the constraints, DFID also focuses on assisting in formulating appropriate policies that would nip those challenges in the bud”.

BUSINESS

UBA Gets Double Honours at BAFI Awards, Wins Best Bank of the Year, International Bank Of The Year

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, carted two highly coveted laurels at the BusinessDay’s Bank and other Financial Institutions Awards (BAFI) winning the Bank of the Year and the International Bank of the Year at the glamorous event held over the weekend.

The bank beat other strong contenders – Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, and First Bank – to clinch the two top categories in a well-attended ceremony comprising of Bank CEO’s, Captains of Industries, and Senior financial executives.

UBA won the ‘Bank of the Year’ in recognition of UBA’s consistent effort in outperforming its peers using a composite of financial metrics, strategic foresight, execution discipline, world-class governance, and global vision.

The Bank also won the award for ‘International Bank of the Year’, a keenly contested category, that pitches Nigerian financial institutions that have expanded on the continent against their international peers operating across Africa.

UBA’s Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Liadi Ayoku, who received the awards on behalf of the bank, expressed his delight on the recognition from BusinessDay.

He said, “These awards mark another milestone for UBA Group and is a testament of the diligent execution of the bank’s strategic initiatives on customer service. Being recognized as Nigeria’s best bank complements positive feedback from customers and is a recognition of our improving efficiencies, service quality, and innovation. I, therefore, dedicate it to our growing loyal corporate and retail customers, who are our essence. Given our heritage commitment to Africa’s development, we continue to impact lives through our service as well as funding to individuals, businesses, and government,” he noted.

Ayoku pointed out that the bank remains focused on its goal of democratizing banking in Africa, leveraging on new technologies, and emphasized its determination to change the narrative of financial services in Africa.

Publisher of BusinessDay Newspapers, organizers of the event, Frank Aigbogun, noted that UBA has excelled in the key areas of prioritizing customers, which according earned the bank double honours.

While explaining the rationale behind UBA winning the two prestigious categories in its December issue, Aigbogun noted that the bank stood out in prioritizing customers as has been evident in the significant rise in Customer Deposits which leaped by 35.7 % to N5.2trillion up from N3.8 trillion at the end of the last financial year.

He noted that even though Africa’s economic landscape has been unpredictable in recent times which resulted in a recession in Nigeria and some of Africa’s best-performing economies, the bank still found its rhythm and excelled.

He said, “In these conditions only the most diversified and innovative of regional banks can prosper. And this is precisely why UBA has scooped the BAFI 2020, Best Bank of the year, and International Bank of the year, a testament to hard work, resilience. For one, the lender registered impressive top-and bottom-line growth over the review period.”

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touchpoints, in 20 African countries. With a presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services.

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BIG STORY

CBN Directs BDC Operators To Sell Dollars At N392

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed bureau de change operators in the country not to sell dollars higher than N392 to end-users.

In a circular signed by O.S. Nnaji, director of trade and exchange at the CBN, and dated November 30, 2020, the apex bank said the volume of sales for each market is $10,000 per bureau de change (BDC).

“Please be advised that the applicable exchange rate for the disbursement of proceeds of IMTOs, for the period Monday, November 30 to Friday, December 14, 2020, is as follows: International money transfer service operators (IMTSOs) to banks – N388/$1; Banks to CBN – N399/$1; CBN to BDCs – N390/$1; BDCs to end-users not more than N392/$1,” it read.

At the close of trading on Friday, figures from the financial market dealers exchange over the counter (FMDQ) NAFEX, an official market where the exchange rate is traded, also show that the exchange rate between the naira and dollar has depreciated to N390/$1 — the lowest level since the introduction of the import & export (I&E) window in 2017.

This is about N4 higher than the N386 per dollar which the apex bank had sold dollars to the BDC operators

In the parallel market, the naira hit record lows, falling by 2.2 percent to N495.00/$1 as lack of access to forex at the official windows has funneled demand to the parallel market.

This also followed recent comments by Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, saying that the parallel market makes up only 5 percent of the overall FX market which is patronized by people who go there for cash to offer bribe and corruption noting that it should not be used to determine the naira’s true value.

The apex bank sells $10,000 twice weekly to BDCs and has sold over $1 billion since September 7 when it resumed intervention following a break occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nigeria’s FX reserves further declined by $40.05 million week-on-week to $35.45 billion, as the outflows for the CBN’s interventions across the various FX windows continue to outstrip dollar inflows.

Year-to-Date, the naira is down by 6.6 percent and 26.9 percent at the I&E window and in the parallel market, respectively.

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BUSINESS

FBN Holdings Grows Profit By 32% To N68bn In Nine Months

Gbemileke Ajayi

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FBN Holdings Plc has reported a growth of 31.7 percent in its profit after tax (PAT) for the nine months ended September 30, 2020, raising the hope of investors for a robust dividend at the end of the financial year.

The financial group posted a PAT of N68.256 billion, up from N51.747 billion in the corresponding period of 2019.

Details of the results showed that FBN Holdings recorded gross earnings of 325.279 billion, up from N324.152 billion, while net interest income stood at N192.737 billion compared with N203.53billion in 2019. Fee and commission income rose from N62.434 billion to N72.988 billion. Impairment charges rose from N28.46 billion to N46.675 billion.

Profit before tax improved from N54.469 billion to N63.280 billion, while PAT grew faster from N51.747 billion to N68.156 billion. Loans and advances expanded by 10.3 percent from N2.607 trillion to N2.869 trillion, while customers’ deposits rose from N4.019 trillion to N4.630 trillion. FBN Holdings ended the period with total assets of N7.243 trillion, up from N6.204 trillion.

The impressive results recorded despite the COVID-19 pandemic did not come as surprise to some stakeholders as the Group Managing Director of FBN Holdings Plc, Mr. UK Eke, had said necessary steps had been put in place to ensure the bank mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

According to him, FBN Holdings continued to assess the impact not only on its income in the immediate but also medium-to-long-term impact on its customers and their ability to meet obligations.

“And in line with the commitment to supporting our customers and providing leadership in the financial services industry, we will continue to provide unfettered access to financial services to our customers and address their needs. We are working in line with the guidance of the regulators including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in providing access to funding as we seek to kick-start the economy and drive growth,” he said.

He assured stakeholders that overall, “the impact on our business has been broadly in line with our expectations, and our resilience, breadth of offerings, and investment in alternative channels have ensured that the Group is able to cushion the effect and thrive.”

Eke had also said the shares of FBN Holdings had been undervalued because the valuation does not reflect the growing fundamentals as evidenced by the return on equity which has continued to improve quarter-on-quarter.

“More fundamentally, the Group has begun to reap the dividend of its investment in technology that has enhanced the earning capacity of the business and expanded our market reach,” Eke said.

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