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Market Formation Framework, Driver To Optimally Develop Solid Mineral Sector —- Sekibo

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MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has said that the market formation framework is the key to optimally exploit Nigeria’s precious metal and solid minerals endowments.

He disclosed this during a webinar organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development with the theme, “Financing the Solid Minerals Sector through the Capital Market and the Critical Role of Commodity Exchanges.”

Sekibo explained that a fully established market formation process that would lead to having a Corporation as an integrated solid mineral institution like NNPC which allows the collateralization of assets those banks can rely on for alternative funding options.

According to him, this will guarantee other creative ways of raising funds for financing commercial activities relating to solid minerals and viable projects along its value chain.

Sekibo who was represented by the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, of the Bank, Olusegun Akanji, said for the sector to be viable, it requires lots of converged government interventions because for any development focused sector to kick-off around the world, it needs government intervention to lay the foundation for the private sector and funders to step-in and pool their resources.

“Once, we can collateralize these assets, whether they are under the ground or being determined, you use different instruments to bring liquidity into them. Then investors will follow up once we have established there is enough they can explore.” the MD stated.

He further suggested that finance sector regulators need to expand its Prudential Guidelines to accommodate the instruments such that precious metal-backed or solid minerals-backed assets could qualify as part of the computation of liquidity ratios.

“Once banks start injecting their resources, customers would certainly follow that trend. You can start arranging for sophisticated solutions like bonds, bullion-backed assets, and pension notes. Again, banks will have to be poised to hold the funding that comes from this sector; that way, they can open new transactional frontiers either locally or internationally.

“At the base of this, are the issues of pricing and integrity of the market. Once banks play in that sector and we have a government institution like the NNPC type to hold all this documentation, it would be very easy to establish price discovery on an ongoing basis. This will in turn attract international funders, hedge funds, and retail investors. Today, we have retail bonds in the same way; we can have gold-backed or any of the solid mineral assets where retail investors can put in the funds,” Sekibo explained.

Meanwhile, it would be recalled that Heritage Bank Plc has said its involvement in the private sector collaboration with Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Co. Limited is set to unlock the over N344 trillion market worth of gold investible instruments in the solid minerals sector.

However, he reiterated that a consistent packaged framework, which could only be held by an established government institution, as part of the layers of framework, would help to tackle major challenges in trying to support Dukia Gold’s clients.

“With the consistent packaged framework, it will be easier for Dukia Gold and help in less spending. If Dukia Gold should speak of their challenges, they will speak about tonnes of documents they have to produce. But with a unified source of documentation, it makes the process easier and improves cost management. These are some of the challenges we have experienced in trying to support a few clients we worked with,” Sekibo stated.

BIG STORY

Naira Slides To 505/$ As CBN Stops Forex Sale To BDCs

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The naira fell slightly to the dollar at the parallel market a few hours after the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday announced the discontinuity of forex supplies to the Bureau de Change Operators in the country.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced the end of forex sales and new license approval after the Monetary Policy Committee’s two-day meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

He expressed the MPC’s disappointment over their continuous abuse of the privilege.

At the end of the meeting, the MPC retained the lending rates and other parameters.

Reading the MPC’s decision, Emefiele said, “Based on the above considerations, the MPC made the decision to hold all policy parameters constant; believing that a hold stance will enable the continued permeation of current policy measures in supporting the recorded growth recovery and macro-economic stability.

“The committee thus decided by a unanimous vote to retain the Monetary Policy Rate at 11.5 percent; retain the asymmetric corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR; retain the CRR at 27.5 percent, and retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30 percent.”

Speaking on the decision to stop forex to the BDCs, Emefiele said the MPC noted with disappointment and great concerns that the BDCs had defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to the retail users, but instead, they had become wholesale and illegal dealers.

He said, “Operators in the BDC have not reciprocated the gesture to help maintain price stability in the market since the CBN had been selling forex to them.

“They have remained renegade and so greedy, recalcitrant with abnormally high profit from these sales while ordinary Nigerians have been left to feel the pain and therefore suffer.

“Given this rent-seeking behavior, it is not surprising that since the CBN began to sell forex to the BDCs, the number of operators has risen from a mere 74 in 2005 to over 2,700 in 2016, and almost 5,500 BDCs as at today.

“In addition, the CBN constantly receives nothing less than 500 new applications from BDC licenses every month, and we, therefore, begin to wonder, what is in this business that everybody must be in it?”

The BDCs, he observed, had continued to make huge profits while Nigerians suffered in pain.

He said the commercial banks would be monitored to provide forex for the legitimate use of Nigerians.

“The Central Bank will henceforth discontinue the sale of forex to Bureau de Change operators,” Emefiele said.

Meanwhile, the naira fell slightly to the dollar a few hours after the CBN’s announcement.

According to naijabdcs.com, the official websites of the BDCs, the naira which exchanged to the dollars at N503/$ on Monday was bought and sold for N503 and N505 on Tuesday evening.

The CBN had been supplying each licensed BDCs $10,000 twice per week at the rate of N393 with the instruction that they should sell with a margin of N2.

When contacted to respond to the new development, the President, Association of Bureaux de Change Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, replied an SMS, “In a meeting with BDCs operators. For now, no comment.”

Economist and former Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Muda Yusuf, said what was happening in the foreign exchange market was a consequence of the CBN’s policy choice of a fixed exchange rate regime and administrative allocation of forex.

He said, “It is a policy regime that has created a huge enterprise around foreign exchange – round-tripping, speculation, over-invoicing, capital flight, etc.

“The action of the apex bank amounts to tackling the symptoms rather than dealing with the causative factors, which is not a sustainable solution.

“It is regrettable that the CBN does not believe in the market mechanism. Yet market systems are time tested as instruments of efficient resource allocation in leading economies around the world.”

He added, “Moving retail forex transactions from BDCs to the banks was like kicking the can down the road. The same issues would manifest even with the banks.”

According to him, the way out of the foreign exchange conundrum was for the CBN to allow the market to function.

He said, “The CBN needs to give the market a chance. Its current approach would continue to deepen distortions in the economy, perpetuate round-tripping, fuel speculation, suppress forex supply, and boost the underground economy.”

A past President, Association National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr Sam Nzekwe, said it was a good decision to stop forex allocation to the BDCs.

He said, “BDC is meant for light travelers, someone that is traveling and has no time to go to the bank who can just stopover at the airport and buy few dollars and travel with it. The CBN was allocating forex to them which was a wrong decision and it is a terrible thing. That is why they encouraged round-tripping.”

According to him, the BDCs need to source their monies themselves because they were doing illegal dealings with the privilege.

The Chairman, Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, said that it was not appropriate to be allocating scarce forex to the BDCs.

“Why will you allocate something that is so scarce to a set of people. The way to solve the forex problem is to have one single exchange rate so that anywhere you turn to this it is the same rate you get it, there will be some sanity.”

He said it was important to have a single conversion rate.

Some financial experts warned of the possibility of further deprecation of the naira against the dollar following the CBN directive.

A senior lecturer in economics at the Pan Atlantic University, Dr Olalekan Aworinde, said there was a risk of naira depreciation, depending on how the CBN manages foreign exchange.

An economist and a former presidential candidate, Prof Pat Utomi, said people who engaged in exports or any activities that involved dollar exchange would be affected by this ban, adding that the country was at risk of depleting reserves and endangering the economy.

He said, “I think the bottom line is that there is already a challenge to people who are exporting. Foreign exchange is already scarce right now, even for people buying basic travel allowance.

“The real issue is simple. We are not earning as much foreign exchange as we are using. So, we are running the risks of depleting reserves and endangering trades long term. So, there is the pressure to better manage foreign exchange.”

He added that the ban signaled more foreign exchange crises as there would likely be more hoarding of dollars, which would further lead to the depreciation of naira.

Utomi said, “What this ban signal is that there is a foreign exchange crisis. This signal will lead to more hoarding, and lead to a spiral that can make the exchange rate deteriorate much faster because there may not be enough supplies to keep the market reasonable.

“So, prices are going to tumble. People are talking about the one thousand naira to a dollar. God forbid that it happens so quickly but it can happen.”

He advised the government to focus on expanding the economy, especially driving growth in export earnings.

 

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Heritage Bank Hailed For Supporting Ibadan Golf Club

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Heritage Bank Plc has been commended for its continued supports of Nigeria’s sports sector, especially backing the Ibadan Golf Club’s 30th-anniversary event. 

The event that attracted dignitaries and stakeholders from various parastatals also had the presence of the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Oluseyi Makinde and over 150 golfers participated in the tournament during the weeklong celebration. 

In a speech during the grand finale of the 30th anniversary of the club, the Captain of the Ibadan Golf Club, Oladiran Ibironke commended one of Nigeria’s most vibrant financial institutions, Heritage Bank, and others for providing financial support to ensure the success of the event. 

“Special thanks to Heritage Bank Plc., the anniversary’s major sponsor for enlarging our coast financially in order to make the anniversary elaborate and eventful. You will forever be remembered in the history of Ibadan Golf Club,” he stated. 

Ibironke also praised the efforts of the founding fathers of the club while tracing the history of how the sporting club has continued to blossom. 

He stated that tremendous transformations had occurred within the club since its inception 30 years ago. 

“We are celebrating 30 years today because some great minds came together and established what we are celebrating today. 

“From the history that we heard,   they started from Ibadan Recreation Club before moving over to where we are today in 1990,” Ibironke said. 

Speaking on the 30th anniversary, the Ag. Group Head, Corporate Communications, Heritage Bank, Ozena Utulu noted that the Bank is delighted to be the lead sponsor and to be associated with Ibadan Golf Club, stating that the sponsorship is hinged on its brand’s passion to support sports, especially golf in promoting health, wellbeing, and nation-building. 

She stated that Heritage Bank, as the sponsor of Ibadan Golf Club’s 30th anniversary, is working assiduously towards achieving its vision of becoming a bank known for promoting healthy lifestyles and the general wellbeing of the society at large. 

“Heritage Bank believes in development. We have the tenacity to develop and sport is a way of developing Nigerians both young and old. We want to encourage the golfers; I believe that this type of game is capable of helping them to keep healthy and fit,” Utulu stated.

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Shareholders Commend Nova’s Growth Trajectory, Approve N800m Dividend

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NOVA Merchant Bank held its 4th Annual General Meeting in Lagos where shareholders commended the board and management for its impressive performance over the years.

At the meeting held on the 30th of June 2021 at the Head Office, No. 23 Kofo Abayomi Street Victoria Island, shareholders approved the payment of N800m as dividend for the 2020 financial year and urged the Bank to continue the growth trajectory notwithstanding the current challenging macro-economic environment.

While presenting the Bank’s financial performance for the year ended December 31, 2020, the Chairman, NOVA Merchant Bank, Mr. Phillips Oduoza, noted that the Bank reported significant improvement in all its key financial parameters in the year under consideration.

Specifically, the Bank declared a profit after tax of N3.49bn in 2020, an increase of 112% compared to N1.65bn recorded in December 2019; Gross Earnings also rose significantly by 130% while profit before tax increased by 135% from N1.5bn in 2019 to N3.52bn in the year under consideration.

Commenting on the performance, Oduoza, stated in the face of the challenges in the macro-economic landscape, the Bank was able to turn in very impressive results in the period under consideration.

He said, “On behalf of the Board and the shareholders, I will like to express my gratitude to the management and staff for sustaining the Bank’s growth trajectory and delivering sterling results in such difficult times.”

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Nath Ude, said the Bank took advantage of the opportunities presented by the challenging environment. “The Bank was able to provide seamless services to our customers during the lockdown period while maintaining the necessary COVID-19 protocols. The accelerated adoption of digital channels by customers further demonstrates the appropriateness of our business model and digital banking focus. To this end, we will ensure we remain ahead of changing trends to deliver value to all our stakeholders. We will continue to explore opportunities to partner with fintech to further deepen our capabilities in this area,” he stated.

Ude explained that going forward, NOVA will focus on entrenching the right structures and creating an agile and solution-minded team capable of driving the vision and mission of the group.

NOVA Merchant Bank is an investment grade rated institution that offers an integrated suite of financial solutions covering Wholesale Banking, Investment Banking, Asset Management, Wealth Management, Trade Services, Transaction Banking, Cash Management, and Digital Banking.

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