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Heirs Holdings Signs $600 million Loans With Afrexim Bank, To Scale Its Energy Investments

Gbemileke Ajayi

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As a further demonstration of the African Export-Import Bank’s (“Afrexim”) mandate to facilitate the growth of intra-Africa trade and support the development of African businesses, Afrexim today, signed financing facilities totalling US$600 million with the Heirs Holdings Group, a pan-African proprietary investment holding company.

Heirs Holdings has significant investments across Africa, in the financial services, resources, real estate and hospitality and power sectors. The facilities will further support the Group’s power, oil and gas strategy, as it positions itself as an African leader in integrated natural resources. The signing ceremony took place at the Afrexim Intra-Africa Trade Conference taking place in Cairo, Egypt.

The proceeds of the facilities will assist the Heirs Holdings Group vision of creating a dynamic resource based division, focused on ensuring value creation occurs on the African continent and that value chains are developed, that directly benefit the broader African economy and consumer.

Commenting at the ceremony, Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afrexim who signed on behalf of the Bank, stated that the investment by Heirs Holdings would play a key role in addressing some of the fundamental challenges that have affected the power and energy sectors in Africa. He stated that “A world class energy sector is fundamental to the sustainable growth of businesses in Africa. If we do not deal with these basic matters, growth of trade and exports will always be limited”.

Mr. Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, commented that “We are delighted to be partnering with Afrexim. The Bank continues to play a critical role in the economic and social development of the continent. Together, we illustrate that Africa can create world class institutions, which are capable of successfully making the long-term investments necessary for Africa’s economic transformation and catalyse the enabling environment that will unleash Africa’s potential”.

BUSINESS

Lasaco Shares Not Suspended

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Our attention has been drawn to an online publication on the 22nd of February 2021 that Lasaco Assurance Plc. (“LASACO”/”the Company”) shares had been placed on indefinite suspension. This is not correct as the shares of the Company were never placed on indefinite suspension by The Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”/”the Exchange”).

The shareholders of Lasaco Assurance had at the Annual General Meeting of 8th October 2019, approved the reconstruction of 7,334,343,421 Ordinary shares of 50k each in the share capital of the Company in the ratio of ONE (1) new ordinary share for every FOUR (4) Ordinary shares previously held by the shareholders into 1,833,585,855 Ordinary shares of 50k each.

Lasaco Assurance, through its Financial Advisers and Stockbrokers, filed necessary Applications with the Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”/”the Commission”) and The Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”/”the Exchange”) for the reconstruction of the said Issued shares as directed by the shareholders.

Following the approval of SEC with the Issuance of Letter of no Objection to the reconstruction by the Commission and submission of the said letter to the Exchange, suspension from trading in the shares of the Company was placed by the Exchange from Monday 1st February 2021 to Friday, 19th February 2021 to allow the Share Reconstruction exercises to be concluded.

The shares of the Company resumed trading on Monday, 22nd February 2021 following the conclusion of the Share Reconstruction.

It should be noted that Lasaco Assurance is a regulatory compliant institution and had not done anything to warrant an indefinite suspension of its shares at the Exchange as published by your paper.

Management.




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BUSINESS

Access Bank Commences Accelerator Program, To Empower Startups Through Africa Fintech Foundry

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), an initiative of Access Bank Plc has commenced its accelerator programs.

The initiative is set to empower emerging startups, with mentorship programs, advisory and has committed N10 million in cash to the top three finalists.

The accelerator program which opened its entries last month received 306 registrations and after rigorous assessments were later shortlisted to 30 participants.

These finalists were further screened by the Head of the Africa Fintech Foundry, Mr. Daniel Awe; Group Head, Emerging Businesses, Access Bank, Mrs. Ayodele Olojede; and Vice President, Investments MBO Capital, and Fintech Consultant, Mr. Oshone Ikazobor, in a bid to narrow it down to 10 -15 finalist.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Awe said the AFF was committed to empowering startups with resources and ensuring start-ups are equipped to scale their businesses.

He said: “If a start-up has an idea and you throw it into a market of 42 million customers, the acceleration is going to be faster. So, it is using the entire ecosystem of our group to build the future of the country.”

“In the next 10 years, these guys coming here we see them becoming a unicorn worth over $100 million and a season is coming where would see these startups becoming the next drivers of our economy.”

On funding available for the start-ups, he added: “Funding is based on ideas and what would be required to move the idea forward. We have a commitment of about N10 million. After they come into the accelerator program, there are a top-three but the other ones are going to be exposed to investors.

“This initiative would have a direct impact on the economy because it is targeted at the medium scale businesses and these are the businesses that can change economies in terms of reducing employment rate and socioeconomic levels.”

Also speaking at the event, the Head, Retail Product Insight and Capabilities, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Rob Giles said: “We are looking for companies with ideas that can solve real-world problems and were we are different from venture capital firms is we offer an environment where startups can be supported, nurtured, advised and get access to people who are further ahead on their journey like mentors.

“We have seen three companies that can go all the way and our job is to make sure they stay the course and structure their foundations from the very beginning that would allow them to scale.”

Furthermore, speaking to one of the participating startups, the Founder, Farm Delight Ms. Love Uduma, a start-up focused on the agriculture value chain from production to distribution and consumption said this platform is an impactful stream for startups to get support from.

On her expectation, she said: “I am expecting tech support and a good relationship with the tech community. We have the agricultural aspect covered but we need the technical assistance and also funding.”




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BUSINESS

Fidelity Bank Plc Successfully Issued The Largest Ticket Tier II Local Bonds In Nigeria

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Fidelity Bank Plc has successfully issued 10 years N41.21 billion in fixed-rate unsecured subordinated bond at a 8.5 percent coupon rate due in 2031. The bond issuance which was fully subscribed given that total investor interest and commitments in the bonds were N56.6 billion, adds to the impressive portfolio of landmark transactions structured by the bank and underscores its capacity to successfully execute debt capital market transactions.

The transaction is a landmark achievement in the Nigerian domestic debt market for being the largest corporate bonds ever issued by a Nigerian Bank including the deposit money banks and merchant banks etc.

In December, the bank had announced plans to issue fixed income securities with a 10-year tenor to support the growth and development of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Retail Business as well as its technology infrastructure. The bank conducted the debt issuance under its registered N100 billion bond issuance programme.

The bonds are unsecured and subordinated, which will qualify as Tier II Capital in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Guidance Notes on Regulatory Capital for commercial banks in Nigeria.

Speaking on the significance and success of the bond issuance, Fidelity Bank Chairman, Mustapha Chike-Obi said that the bond issuance further demonstrates our confidence in Nigeria’s debt market. “It also validates the continued investor confidence in our corporate strategy and aspirations, strong corporate governance structure and solid and stable executive management team with a robust history of superior financial performance and returns”, Obi explained.

In her comments, Fidelity Bank CEO, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe noted that proceeds from the transaction would be utilized to support growth in the issuer’s risk assets in SME and retail business as well as investments in technology & retail infrastructure. This, Onyeali-Ikpe added is in line with the bank’s Tier I aspirations. According to her, our business fundamentals have remained strong despite the challenging economic environment occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic and the attendant recession.

“The successful bond issuance highlights the confidence in the Fidelity brand, as well as our capability to expand our funding sources, and deliver innovative financial services to our esteemed customers”, she added. The issue was assigned a rating of A- by Agusto, and A by Datapro and will be listed on both the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and FMDQ Securities Exchange Limited.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria, with over 5.7 million customers who are serviced across its 250 business offices and various other digital banking channels. The Bank is focused on select niche corporate banking sectors, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and is rapidly implementing a digital-based retail banking strategy which has resulted in annual double-digit growth in savings deposits in at least 7 consecutive years while over 50 percent of its customers are now enrolled on its digital platforms.




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