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The Central Bank of Nigeria on Wednesday, released additional $250m on seven to 30 day forwards for agriculture, airline, petroleum products and raw materials.

The apex bank also called for bids for wholesale spot for $100m for Basic/Personal Travelling Allowance, medicals and tuition fees.

Confirming this in Abuja, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said in a statement issued on Wednesday night that the apex bank has also commenced heavy injections into the spot market.

his, he added, is in addition to the settlement of requests for wholesale spot bids for invisibles like school fees, medicals and personal travel allowance.

The CBN had earlier this week, disbursed $20,000 each to the Bureau De Change operators in two tranches of $10,000 each.

This, according to Mr. Okorafor, underscores the commitment of the CBN to ensure liquidity in the foreign exchange market.

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Unilever is to sell its margarine business, including the Flora and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter brands, as part of its response to the failed takeover by US rival Kraft Heinz.

The Anglo-Dutch firm began a review of the business after resisting the £115bn offer on value grounds despite a clear measure of support for it among Unilever investors.

The company said on Thursday that while it would continue to focus on “sustainable value creation” for shareholders, it would deliver on a series of measures to support that.

Top of the list was the sale of its spreads business, which it said was under-performing. Analysts said a sale could raise more than £4bn. Unilever said it could hive off the division as an alternative option.

It was also planning to boost dividends this year by 12% and launch a £4.3bn share buy-back by the end of 2017.

On top of those responses came a pledge to ramp up cost savings and simplify the business by looking at its dual listing in London – on the FTSE 100 – and in Amsterdam.

As part of the review, the company found that “our dual-headed … legal structure adds complexity when undertaking such change.”

Chief executive, Paul Polman, said the measures would build on its existing Connecting 4 Growth programme started last year.

“This acceleration allows us to unlock sustainable value faster and target an overall underlying operating margin, which excludes restructuring, of 20% by 2020.

“Progress and performance will be reported on with greater granularity in our financial communication,” he said.

The company’s share price was 0.4% higher in morning trading in London.


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Business mogul and richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote is currently the owner of the largest crawler crane in Africa.

According to media reports, the astute businessman bought the crane from China’s number one construction company, XCMG Construction Machinery Co Ltd, a Company dealing in heavy machineries.

The Assistant President and General Manager, Hanson Liu, said their biggest customer in Africa is Dangote.

He noted in an interview with leadership that Dangote has bought the largest crawler crane from them, weighing about 1250 tons, adding that the massive crane was assembled in Nigeria.

Liu equally said that XCMG sold about 5000 units of various kinds of products to customers in Africa last year 2016.

“We dispatch our stationaries through Tanzania and working with some big customers like Dangote. We presently have about 24 employees in service working with Dangote full time in Nigeria,” he said.

However, Liu pointed out that working in some African countries has not been without challenges for the company. He noted that the company plans to make investments in the continent in the future.

“In some countries, we cannot easily transfer money due to financial restriction there. Also its not easy to exchange currency. And some countries have security issues which makes us a bit nervous,” he added.

He noted that they were seeking for a suitable place and favourable policies.

“You know we are always thinking about it because the next era will be Africa. So, we focus a lot on Africa. Africa has huge potential regarding development,” he said.

Due to the high technology employed by the company, robots are a part of the manufacture process, raising questions as to whether or not this would increase unemployment in the world’s most populated country.


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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday slashed the rate at which it sells forex to Bureaux De Change (BDCs) in Nigeria to N360 and directed the BDCs to sell to end users at not more than N362 to a dollar.

This is coming barely 24 hours after the CBN directive to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country to sell foreign exchange obtained from it to retail end-users at not more than N360 to a dollar for invisibles such as school fees and medicals.

The CBN Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor in a statement, said that the CBN, under the new policy, will sell forex to the licensed BDCs at the rate of N360 while they will in turn sell to customers at a rate not more than N362 to a dollar.

Okorafor said the objective of the new forex sale policy was to ensure a convergence of the rates in the interbank and BDC, stressing that the CBN remained committed to ensuring transparency in the market as well as fairness to end-users, many of who hitherto experienced challenges in accessing foreign exchange.

He therefore urged licensed BDCs to play by the rule, cautioning that the CBN would not hesitate in sanctioning any erring dealer.

Meanwhile, the CBN spokesman also disclosed to newsmen that the sum of $100 million offered to authorised FOREX dealers in the interbank wholesale window to meet the requests of genuine wholesale customers was fully subscribed at the auction on Tuesday.

Okorafor reiterated his call to all stakeholders to play their respective roles in ensuring a smooth running of the foreign exchange market for the benefit of the Nigerian economy.


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New investors on Friday took control of Keystone Bank Limited and announced plans to reposition the lender on the path of growth with immediate effect.

This follows the announcement by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria on Tuesday that the Sigma Golf-Riverbank Consortium had acquired Keystone Bank.

Sigma Golf-Riverbank Consortium comprises Sigma Golf Nigeria Limited and Riverbank Investment Resources, both of which are entities set up by local investors.

One of the financiers of the consortium is said to be the former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Sigma Pensions Limited, Mr. Umar Modibbo.

Modibbo and his brother, Adamu, a former governorship aspirant in Adamawa State, were the founders of Sigma Pensions, a Pension Fund Administrator, until its sale in November 2015 to Actis LLP, a private equity investor in emerging markets.

The Board of Directors of Sigma Pensions, according to the firm’s website, is comprised of highly accomplished and well respected professionals and administrators, chaired by Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo, a former Deputy Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Other members are Natalie Kolbe, Tony Abakisi, Emenike Uduanu (managing director/chief executive officer) and Ibrahim Balarabe.

However, information regarding those behind Riverbank Investment Resources are scanty.

The completion meeting, according to a statement by the lender, was held on Thursday with representatives of the Sigma Golf-Riverbank Consortium, AMCON, Board and management of Keystone Bank, as well as the advisers to the buyer made up of KPMG Professional Services, Boston Advisory Services, Giwa Osagie & Co., and Pan-African Capital Limited; and the seller, comprising FBN Capital Limited, Citibank Nigeria Limited, Banwo & Ighodalo and Crosswrock Law.

The completion meeting, according to the statement, signifies the effective handover of the bank to the buyer and the commencement of a transition process that will culminate in the reconstitution of the Board and management of the lender to reflect the new ownership.

Keystone Bank was taken over by AMCON in 2011 and has been managed by the corporation’s appointed Board and management that stabilised it over the years to make it attractive as a target for eventual acquisition by the new investors, who emerged as preferred bidders after a very transparent and competitive bidding process, the statement noted.


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Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi on Friday, called on the people of the state to be receptive to investors.

Bello made the call during the inauguration of the Cassava Peels Processing Factory and Cassava Production Cluster in Ojapata, Ankpa Local Government of the state.

The factory, established by Synergos Nigeria, under the auspices of the State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA)’s Core Delivery Team (CDT), will convert cassava peels into livestock feeds.

It is in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Ibadan; Fadama III, the Federal Government and the World Bank.

The governor, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Agriculture, Mr David Apeh, also urged the communities in the state to remain friendly to strangers, especially investors reminding them that hostile communities never develop.

He also urged the Ojapata community to secure the factory and ensure that installed machine remain intact to serve them, the state and the country effectively.

He said, “This is entirely yours, guard it.”

Speaking earlier, Mr Adewale Ajadi, Country Director of Synergos, called for more synergies between the state government and development partners for improved livelihood for the people.

Ajadi described the establishment of the processing factory as a dream come true, adding that it was also the outcome of positive collaborations.

He commended the Ojapata Production Cluster women groups for their efforts, describing them as “one of the underpinning factors in our organisation’’.

He said the factory was gender sensitive because of the realisation “that when women make money, they invest in their families.’’

“Our success here is that women now see themselves as viable entrepreneurs. ‘’We are also giving the local communities ideas of what they can do locally to improve their livelihood.”

Mr Victor Adejoh, Synergos Team Lead in the state said the equipment, including graters, pulverizers, sieve, hydraulic jerk, toasting pans, pressure water pumps among others were supplied by ILRI, Synergos technical partners.

Adejoh noted that some members of the production cluster, supported by Fadama III to plant about 80 hectares of cassava, were trained in Ibadan.

He said they were trained on the conversion of the cassava peels into livestock feeds.


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For the first time in seven months, the dollar fell below the psychological N400 barrier, when the greenback traded at N399 to the dollar in Lagos and exchanged at N395 in Abuja, lower than N410 at which it traded on Tuesday.

With the gains made by the local currency in the last five weeks, the naira inched closer to one of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) key foreign exchange policy objectives of an exchange rate convergence.

The naira trades for N375 to the greenback for invisibles and at N307 to the dollar on the FX interbank market, the official window for manufacturers and importers of raw materials eligible to buy FX from this segment of the market.

The last time the naira traded at between N395 and N400 to the dollar on the parallel market was in August 2016.

The significant gains made by the naira on the parallel market, according to market analysts, was a reflection of the improved confidence in the FX market, following the sustained dollar interventions by the CBN since last month.

One analyst also attributed the gains made by naira to the Bureau de Change (BDC) operators that are awash with dollars and with little or no customers to patronise them.

He said several retail customers who used to resort to the BDCs (which realistically fund the parallel market) to fund invisible transactions now get to buy dollars at a lower rate from the banks.

“The BDCs are awash with cash. Remember that the central bank sold about $200,000 to each BDC at some point and they had also bought dollars at high rates which they hoarded, thinking that the naira would remain in a free fall.

“But with the CBN’s intervention, they are stuck with loads of dollars and little or no customers, so they have stopped buying dollars and are looking for avenues to offload what they bought at ridiculously high rates.

“Essentially, the speculative attacks on the naira has come back to haunt them and they’ve got their fingers burnt,” he said.

In all, the central bank has auctioned a total of $1.895 billion through forward sales, as well as targeted intervention for invisibles.

This amount does not include its daily intervention of $1.5 million on the interbank market.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday expressed optimism about the convergence of the FX rates on the official and parallel markets, stating that the gains made by the naira against the greenback in the last five weeks was not a fluke.

Emefiele said he was happy that the central bank’s intervention was yielding positive results.

“I am happy, indeed very gratified, that the interventions have been positive, we have seen the rates now converging and we are strongly optimistic that the rates will converge further.

“In terms of sustainability, I think it’s important for us to say that the foreign reserves at this time are still trending upwards to almost $31 billion as I speak with you.

“And the fact that we have done this consistently for close to five weeks, should tell everybody or those who doubt the strength of the central bank to sustain this policy,” he had said after the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

But an analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, who welcomed the development in the FX market, pointed out that achieving a convergence between the official (interbank rate) and parallel market rate would be a more onerous task.

“For us to have a convergence between the interbank and parallel market, it would require the CBN to devalue the official exchange rate to about N350 to the dollar.

“Without that, I don’t see how the official and parallel market rates can converge. Maybe what the CBN governor was talking about is achieving a convergence between the parallel market rate and the rate for invisibles, which is N375 to the dollar.

“But what the CBN has done in the last one month has really helped the parallel market rate. But we need to see improved liquidity on the interbank market,” Ezun said in a phone chat with THISDAY.

In another development, the Deputy Governor of the CBN, Economic Policy, Dr. Sarah Alade, retired on Wednesday and urged Emefiele to uphold the credibility of the bank.

Alade, who for four months served as the acting governor of the central bank, following the suspension of the former CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, now the Emir of Kano, also recalled a dark period during her stint when the central bank had “four governors”.

Alade spoke at a send off held at the CBN headquarters in Abuja that had in attendance Emefiele; the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; and officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Sanusi, in February 2014, was suspended by former President Goodluck Jonathan over allegations of financial recklessness and misconduct.

This happened after Sanusi had claimed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had not remitted $20 billion from crude oil earnings to the treasury.

“Throughout my period at the bank, I had one slight regret and that’s during the period I was the acting governor. It was the time that the CBN was being investigated. It had never happened before that the activities of the CBN were under investigation.

“We went for the IMF meetings and when we met with investors, they asked us ‘what is happening? We understand that there was some financial mismanagement in the CBN’. It was humiliating.

“I think for me, that was a low point. The credibility of this institution was eroded.

“For an institution this important to be subjected to that, is bad. At the end of the day, it was not just CBN that suffered for it but the economy as a whole did suffer.

“So I want to encourage us that whatever we need to do, let us do it right. We must not subject this institution to that type of incident again,” she said.

Sharing her experience as acting governor, Alade explained that the investigation had paralysed activities at the bank.

“I remember that during that period, I was reminded every morning that we had four governors.

“The suspended governor, the governor-in-waiting, the acting governor and the investigating governor.

“I remember that the investigating governor told us that there should be no initiative, no payment, no decision-making, nothing. The only thing we could do was to just maintain the bank.

“So the bank was sort of paralysed. We could not do anything. For me, it was a humiliating experience, but we did the best we could,” she said.

The persons Alade was referring to were Sanusi – suspended governor; Emefiele – governor-in-waiting; Alade – acting governor; and Mr. Jim Obazee – investigating governor, who at the time was the Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN).

Obazee, who was recently fired by President Muhammadu Buhari, had written a damning report on the bank’s 2011 and 2012 audited financial accounts under Sanusi’s stewardship.

At the send off for Alade, Emefiele described her as “a friend, colleague and a woman of extreme virtue”.

He applauded her for her hard work and the 23 years she had served at the central bank.

Similarly, Adeosun described the retiree as one of the brilliant and inspiring Nigerian women in the financial sector.

In her capacity as the Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, a post she held for 10 years, Alade served on the teams on major economic policy studies and was involved in the preparation of the CBN’s Monetary and Credit Policy proposals over the years.

She was actively involved in the drafting of the Medium Term Economic Programme for Nigeria and the IMF Staff Monitored Programme/Standby Arrangement.

She was also a member of the Technical Committee on Vision 2010 and is currently a member of the Technical Committee on Vision 2020, as well as the National Economic Management Team.

As deputy governor, Alade superintended over the Economic Policy Directorate, comprising the Research, Monetary Policy, Trade and Exchange, Statistics Departments and the Financial Markets Department.

As chair of the Monetary Policy Implementation Committee, she interfaced with operational departments and coordinated technical inputs for the Monetary Policy Committee of the CBN.

Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings on Wednesday said Nigerian banks would continue to face challenges this year, following the extreme difficultly they faced in 2016.

The ratings agency, in a report on Nigerian banks, pointed out that the financial institutions faced multiple threats from the operating environment in 2016, including Nigeria sliding into recession, the economy continuing to suffer from low oil prices, and severe shortages of foreign currency (FC).

Consequently, banks struggled with declining operating profitability (excluding translation gains), sluggish credit growth, fast asset quality deterioration, tight FC liquidity and weakening capitalisation, putting increasing pressure on their credit profiles.

Fitch stated that the “outlook for the rest of 2017 is not much brighter. We believe that the banks will continue to face extremely tight FC liquidity despite the authorities’ best efforts to normalise the foreign exchange (FX) interbank market and improve the supply of US dollars”.

It added: “Importantly, deliveries under the CBN’s FX forward transactions since first half of 2016 have helped the banks access US dollars and reduce a large backlog of overdue trade finance obligations to international correspondent banks.

“However, given the severity of the FC liquidity issues, refinancing risk remains at the top of our perceived risks for the sector, especially as some banks have large Eurobond maturities in 2017/2018.

“Fast asset quality deterioration is in line with our expectations given the macro challenges and the continuing issues in the oil-sector.

“Oil-related impaired loans (NPLs) are high and this excludes large volumes of restructured loans. Other industry sectors contributing to NPLs include general commerce and trading, which have been affected by both the naira depreciation and FC shortages.

“For the Fitch-rated banks, we believe the NPL ratio could rise to 10%-12% by end of first half 2017 (this remains lower than the CBN’s reported figure for the entire sector).

“As a one-off policy change, the CBN allowed banks to write off all fully reserved NPLs by end-2016. Together with significant loan restructuring (particularly in the oil sector), this will ease pressure on NPLs for now, in our view.

“Slower economic growth and a lower risk appetite from banks will continue to translate into subdued credit growth and weak core earnings generation in 2017.

“Loan growth averaged 25% in 9M16, but this was due to the currency translation effect post-devaluation as about half of sector loans are in FC.”

According to Fitch, loan growth was negligible in constant currency terms, adding that banks’ 2016 profitability was underpinned by large translation gains booked on net long FC positions following the naira devaluation.

“Excluding these, some banks would have reported a significant fall in operating income. Regulatory capital ratios are high from a global perspective, but remain under pressure due to inflated risk-weighted assets (due to the FC translation effect) and lower core retained earnings.

“In our view, there is a limited margin of safety as some banks could very easily breach minimum regulatory requirements in the event of further naira depreciation and/or weaker asset quality,” it added.

The agency observed that the Long-Term IDRs of all Nigerian banks are in the ‘B’ range, indicating highly speculative fundamental credit quality.

The low ratings, it noted, reflect the significant influence of the weak operating environment, which overshadows other rating factors.

“The banks’ IDRs are driven by their Viability Ratings, Fitch’s assessment of their standalone creditworthiness.

“Following a re-assessment of potential sovereign support available to the banks in 2016, Fitch believes that sovereign support cannot be relied on given Nigeria’s (B+/Negative) weak ability to do so in FC.

“As a consequence, we removed sovereign support from the Long-Term IDRs. Overall, the largest Nigerian banks with stronger and more diverse business models, high revenue-generating capacity and stronger liquidity profiles appear to be coping better than smaller banks on most metrics.

“However, tail risks remain high for all banks due to their sensitivity to concentration risk,” it said.

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The Naira on Monday continued to extend its gains against the dollar at the parallel market, newsmen report.

The Nigerian currency exchanged at N440 (buying rate) and N445 (Selling rate) to a dollar, from N445/N450 it traded on Friday, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N530 and N465.

At the Bureau De Change (BDC) window, the Naira exchanged at N398 (buying rate) and N400 (selling rate), while the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N545 and N480.

Trading at the interbank market showed that the Naira closed at N307.50 to a dollar.

Traders at the market said they were happy with the level of liquidity but appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sustain it to further reduce the gap between the official and parallel market rates.

Meanwhile, Prof. Sherifdeen Tella, a Senior Economist at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun, has said that injecting dollars into the interbank market by the CBN is not sustainable.

“I don’t think that injecting dollars into the interbank market is a permanent solution to the challenges at the FOREX market.

“It is only a temporary measure,’’ Tella said

The don, who noted that speculators were the major drivers of volatility in the FOREX market, said that the CBN should change the colours of the N1000 and N500 notes to force them to bring out the currencies in their coffers.

Tella called for a reduction in the benchmark interest rate by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the CBN, to enable startups to borrow money to finance their businesses.


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Business tycoon Aliko Dangote was among the top 100 richest people in the world in 2016. However, that has changed. The Forbes billionaires list for 2017 puts the chairman of the Dangote Group at 105 richest in the world.

He and two other Nigerians are on the latest Forbes billionaires list:

Aliko Dangote GCON was born on April 10, 1957.  He is a Nigerian billionaire and the richest in Africa, who owns the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities.

The company operates in Nigeria and other African countries, including Benin, Ethiopia, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Togo, Tanzania, and Zambia.

He is No 105 in this year's Forbes billionaire list owing partly to the recession hounding the Nigerian economy.


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Ethiopian regional officials are demanding foreign cement producers including Dangote Cement Plc hand control of some parts of their businesses to groups of unemployed youths.

The Nigerian company, controlled by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and others such as Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi’s Derba MIDROC Cement Plc, should allow the youth to run their pumice mines, according to a draft contract drawn up by Oromia state’s East Shewa Zone administration this month. Pumice is an additive used in cement manufacturing and its extraction is overseen by local bureaucrats, rather than Ethiopia’s central government.

“The youth have to get the advantage from the resource, and side-by-side the companies must get advantage from this resource,” Yohan Tesso, head of East Shewa’s urban employment creation and food security office, said by phone. “It’s a win-win.”

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s administration is trying to reduce youth unemployment five months after it declared a state of emergency to deal with violent protests by Oromo communities over alleged land dispossession, political marginalization and repression by the state. Dangote Cement was among several businesses attacked during the unrest, which caused foreign investment to slump.

Oromia has 1.2 million unemployed youth, according to the Addis Ababa-based Walta Information Center news service, which cited a local youth affairs office. The state is targeting the creation of 950,000 new jobs for young people, it said.

The local administration “recently” halted Dangote and Derba’s operations amid discussions about the proposals, the Addis Ababa-based newspaper The Reporter said on March 11, citing Derba’s chief executive officer and chairman of the Ethiopia Cement Producers’ Association, Haile Assegidie. He said proposals to give control of pumice to youth cooperatives came without warning, according to the paper. Calls to Haile’s mobile phone on March 16 didn’t connect.

The disruptions haven’t forced Dangote to stop output, CEO Onne van der Weijde said in an interview. The company’s plant in Mugher, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Addis Ababa, has the capacity to produce 2.5 million metric tons a year of cement, according to Dangote’s website.

The Nigerian company is discussing the proposal with Oromo officials and may be willing to sign a contract “as long as that doesn’t involve higher costs and lower quality and the quantity can still be delivered,” he said. “They shouldn’t force us to do it and then charge a high fee for getting something that we were doing ourselves before.”

Prices being discussed are from 20-30 birr ($0.89-$1.33) per metric ton of pumice, Van der Weijde said. The contract refers to 20 birr.

‘No Right’

Teweld Abay, a director of mineral marketing in Ethiopia’s federal mines ministry, said that while he was aware of East Shewa’s plans, the local administration hadn’t communicated them to the ministry.

“We don’t believe they have a right to ask these cement companies to sign this contract,” Teweld said by phone. “But if these companies sign this contract, then it’s their responsibility.”

The Reporter quoted Industry Minister Alemu Sime as saying his ministry had reached “a general consensus on the importance of the youth job-creation initiative with the cement factories.” Factories raised a “valid” concern that there could be an interruption in the supply of raw materials, he was cited as saying.

Abdisa Jaleta, planning and monitoring officer at the East Shewa urban employment creation and food security office, confirmed an English translation of the contract obtained by Bloomberg is authentic. It identified the pumice supplier as Youth Micro Enterprises Plc.


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