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Fidelity Bank Wins SME Support Bank of the Year 2020, Aigbe Emerges Outstanding Corporate Communications Personality

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Fidelity Bank Plc has added yet another accolade to its burgeoning collection of awards. The bank, in recognition of its unflinching support for Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, clinched the award for the ‘Outstanding SME Supporting Bank of the Year’ at the 2020 Marketing & Advertising Award for Excellence ceremony which held on Friday at the D’Podium International Centre in Lagos.

According to the organizers, Marketing Edge, the bank’s nomination and subsequent emergence as an award recipient were a product of a review and assessment of its intervention and provision of long-term financing support for MSMEs across the country.

Receiving the award on behalf of the bank, Divisional Head, Brand & Communications, Mr. Charles Aigbe thanked the management of Marketing Edge for the recognition. “Our long-running support for the growth and development of small businesses in Nigeria stems from our recognition of SMEs as critical agents of economic development and transformation in Nigeria and the world at large.” He noted that the bank had developed a strong multifaceted SME banking platform, driven by its tailored, low-cost transactions banking offerings backed by the requisite one-on-one and cluster focused advisory services and hand-holding support.

Also, on the night, Aigbe was honored as the Outstanding Corporate Communications Personality of the Year’. He was bestowed with the award, in recognition of his contributions to the growth, development, and continuing evolution of the Nigerian marketing and brand management business even in the face of daunting challenges.

Marketing Edge, one of Nigeria’s foremost Brand and Marketing Communications publications, also acknowledged the huge strides that the bank has made in product development, brand recognition, and reputation as well as integrated marketing communications credentials.

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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BUSINESS

Naira Sinks To N620 Against Pound, As Euro Rises To N565

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The naira tumbled to 620 against the British pound sterling at the parallel market on Thursday, even as the euro rose to N565.

The naira fell by 2.1 percent against the pound from 607 on Wednesday, and by 1.4 percent against the euro from 560.

The local currency was, however, stable against the dollar at the parallel market as it traded at 478/$1. It dropped from 475/$1 on Tuesday to 478/$1 on Wednesday.

In the Investors’ and Exporters’ forex window, the naira firmed to 385.50 against the greenback on Thursday from 386 on Wednesday as daily turnover rose to $205.84m from $32.88m on Wednesday, according to data obtained from FMDQ Group.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has kept the official exchange rate at N379/$1 since August when the naira was devalued for the second time this year from 360 per dollar. It was first devalued to 360 in March from 306.

The nation’s forex reserves stood at $35.54bn as of November 17, down from $35.69bn on October 28, according to the CBN.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, had told our correspondent on Monday that forex demand pressures were coming from end-users and those whose obligations had matured and in need of forex to meet the obligations.

“There is a lot of unmet demand,” Chukwu had said, adding that pressure was mounting even as the CBN continued to intervene in the market.

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