NSE All-Share Index Sheds 0.25% as Market Pares Gains




Price depreciation suffered by Nigerian Breweries Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated and Access Bank Plc among others made the stock market to close negatively yesterday.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index, which had appreciated 0.39 per cent on Tuesday, shed 0.25 per cent to close at 30,642.35 yesterday.

Although 20 stocks shed value compared with 24 gainers, the market closed bearish due to the losses by heavy weights. Conoil Plc and AXA Mansard Insurance Plc led the price losers’ chart that also had stocks such as Nigerian Breweries Plc, ETI, FBN Holdings and UBA. The petroleum products marketing and insurance firms went down by 10 per cent apiece. Chams Plc lost 9.0 percent , while A.G Leventis Nigeria Plc shed 7.4 per cent.

Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc and Regency Alliance Insurance Plc depreciated by 5.3 per cent and 4.7 per cent in that order. Continuing profit taking sent Diamond Bank Plc to close 4.2 per cent lower. The stock had a bullish run last week as its price jumped 56.9 per cent due to renewed demand by investors who reacted positively to national banking licence issued to the bank by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Prior to last week, Diamond Bank shares suffered serious value erosion following speculations of its likely acquisition by another bank. However, the speculations were denied by the financial institution, a development that was followed by the approval its application by CBN to convert from an international bank to a national bank.

According to the bank, the move follows its decision to sell its international operations, which included the disposal of its West African Subsidiary in 2017 and Diamond Bank UK, the sale of which is currently in its final stages.

“The change to national bank status also enables the bank to maintain a lower minimum capital requirement of 10 per cent as against 15 per cent required for international banks. This creates room for the bank to deploy more capital for stronger growth in the quarters ahead through additional investment in technology platforms, customer acquisition and expansion of loans to the critical sectors of the economy.”

And in apparent positive reaction to these developments, some investors increased their demand for the shares of Diamond Bank Plc, which bolstered the stock by 56.9 per cent. However, profit taking has set in since the beginning of the week, hence the negative close yesterday.


CBN Grants AMAC MFB Operating License



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has given the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) a license to operate a microfinance bank.
The bank, which was commissioned last week by FCT Minister, Muhammed Musa Bello, would afford small scale business owners opportunity to access loans without collateral and with little or no interest to boost their businesses.
The bank would also support economic empowerment among the less income earning AMAC residents, among other benefits, in line with CBN banking regulatory policy.
The Chairman of Board of Directors, Emmanuel Ohakim, recalled that the idea of the microfinance bank was mooted on June 12, 2017, when AMAC Chairman, Abdulahi Adamu Candido, inaugurated an eight-man implementation committee to source for private investors to liaise with CBN and establish the bank.
He described the microfinance bank as a dream come true and at a time the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) had taken a firm resolve to fight hunger and poverty in the land.
The institution comprises seasoned professionals drawn from both the public and private sectors.
Nzegwu Michael is designated the CEO of the board that comprises Henry Opara, Steve Nwadiuko, Musa Dauda, Candido and Dr Helen Jekele.
Candido, who lauded the experience of Ohakim to the project, assured that the microfinance bank would be run purely as an independent financial institution that is devoid of political interference, adding the projection is to have branches across the council for closer financial services.
He also acknowledged the CBN for its unflinching support in facilitating the process of certification of AMAC micro bank and for giving it approval to commence operation.
“We acknowledge the belief of our stakeholders in this project and assure of the safety of their money because all necessary steps pertaining to regulatory and supervisory guidelines pertaining for micro-finance bank in Nigeria have been followed,” Candido said.

Zenith Bank unveils POS collection without payment cards




Zenith  Bank Plc has launched the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, USSD, payments on Point of Sales (USSD on POS), enabling customers to pay for goods and services via POS terminals in merchant locations or on e-commerce websites without the use of cards.

The innovative payment solution, which is powered by CoralPay, allows Zenith Bank customers to use the *966# Eazy Banking (USSD) to pay for goods and services on POS terminals in merchant locations or on e-commerce websites through the generation of a payment code on the POS terminal which is then confirmed by the customer using their USSD pin.

Speaking at the launch of the new payment solution, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Plc., Mr. Peter Amangbo, said: “This solution is an exciting and highly innovative initiative in promoting financial inclusion, facilitating payments by customers either remotely in the comfort of their homes/offices or at merchant locations without the use of a payment card. With this solution, customers in remote locations plagued with challenges of poor Internet access can now carry out transactions easily using their feature phones.”

Zenith Bank’s *966# Eazy Banking on POS will further drive financial inclusion through agency banking. It also allows bank customers, irrespective of their bank, to carry out withdrawals from their accounts or wallets without cards on the POS terminals at agent locations.

The solution has been successfully connected to all existing POS terminals through integration with leading Payment Terminal Service Providers (PTSPs) and directly to e-commerce sites (Websites) of Zenith Bank merchants/customers. It also supports wallet-to-wallet transactions across provider banks and Mobile Money Operators (MMOs), enabling interoperability across platforms, financial institutions and payment service providers (PSPs) in the payment industry.


Banks refuse to lend N60b SMEs fund, says Emefiele




Commercial banks are not lending over N60 billion five per cent contribution from their annual profits to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele said yesterday.

The contribution from the lenders followed CBN’s directive to banks to contribute five per cent of their annual profits for on lending to SMEs which has so far yielded N60 billion.

Speaking at the ongoing 10th Annual Bankers’ Committee retreat in Lagos, Emefiele said although the lenders are making the contribution, the funds are sitting idly and un-utilised at the CBN.

He stated they were only being invested in Treasury Bills while SMEs continue to suffer over poor credit access.

Emefiele said lending to the SMEs remained a focus of the CBN, urging banks to put more efforts at ensuring more credit flow to the weak in the economy, who he described as ordinary people without opportunities to borrow from banks.

The CBN boss also announced the possible take-off of National Microfinance Bank from January 2019 to ensure more credits flow to the grassroots and make improve Nigerians access to financing services.

He said the National Microfinance Bank will be instituted in partnership with the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and the Bankers’ Committee with a takeoff capital base of N5 billion.
He said that NIPOST will provide the facility for implementation across its 774 local government areas where it has offices.

He said the initiative is part of the bankers’ Committee efforts at boosting financial inclusion by taking banking to the grassroots.

“There will be a N5 billion capital base and the bank will benefit from NIPOST widespread location,” he disclosed.




Police uncover gang's plot to attack Benue bank



Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ene Okon, yesterday, disclosed that the command had uncovered a plot by an armed gang to attack a second generation bank in the state. Police Police dispel influx of Jahadis in Sokoto Mr. Okon said in Makurdi that intelligence indicated that the gang planned to strike the state from the eastern part of the country, assuring that the command had fortified security in all banks in the state to forestall the attack.


His words: “We got information that some bad boys are moving from the East to attack a second generation bank in the state and as such the command has fortified all banks in Benue State security-wise. “Immediately we got the information about the planned attack, we swung into action by visiting all the banks in the state with the information and also held a meeting with them and directed that they all mount closed circuit television, CCTV, in and around their bank premises. “We have put in place a joint patrol team comprising the Police, DSS, Air Force, Army, Navy and Civil Defence.”



Airtel to establish ‘payment service bank’



Airtel Nigeria has announced plans to set up a payment service bank (PSB) in Nigeria

Segun Ogunsanya, managing director, Airtel Nigeria, saying it would help to deliver mobile banking services to its teeming customers.

According to him, Airtel will apply for the PSB license through a subsidiary which is in line with guidelines to establishing a PSB, issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in November.

He said Airtel, through its subsidiary, has a vision of operating the largest and most secured PSB in Nigeria, in order to promote financial inclusion as well as enhance access to financial services to the rural poor, low income earners and financially excluded of the society.

“We welcome the development and we express profound appreciation to the CBN for its commitment to driving financial inclusion through technology,” he said.

“In line with the guidelines shared by the CBN, we have commenced the process of applying for a license as we believe that we are at a vantage position to empower and connect more Nigerians as well as deliver mobile banking services to the door steps of the financially excluded.

“Folks will no longer need to keep their money inside cooking pots or under their beds because we will securely connect them to the financial system.

“With a subscriber base of over 40 million customers and retail footprint across major nooks and crannies of the country, Airtel intends to leverage its distribution to drive financial inclusion amongst the unbanked and financially excluded.”


Jaiz Bank partners CBN to deepen rural financial inclusion




Determined to strengthen Nigeria’s economic diversity, Jaiz Bank Plc, is partnering with the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), to promote financial inclusion especially in the rural communities.

The Managing Director of the bank, Hassan Usman, revealed the strategic plan will include extending micro banking instrument to the rural communities that are not captured in the conventional banking system and financing small scale enterprise.

Hassan, who spoke last week at the ongoing Kano International Trade Fair, explained that with capital base now at N15 billion, Jaiz Bank is empowering micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) to spread economic prosperity in the country.

Usman, who said Nigeria’s economy is a complex mono-product one, commended the CBN for providing various risk management scheme to ensure the productive base of the economy is increased.

He said Jaiz Bank has now adopted a strategy of demonstrating its products in the rural areas through agent banking system, where people will be encouraged to access financial banking.

Usman explained that the bank is carrying out effective awareness creation on Islamic financial services through the media and social media for better information and understanding of its banking system.

“Let me commend the CBN’s efforts for deepening Nigeria’s economy, especial for encouraging commercial banks to support various business initiatives, which now boost the economy. Commercial banks through the risk management instrument of CBN can now fund agriculture and other sectors of the economy through loans.

“In Jaiz Bank, we have provided several business opportunities through our customer-friendly products. Even without CBN’s intervention, even when our liquidity remains dormant with the apex bank, we are glad with the introduction of Sukuk and other short-term instruments, the bank is better repositioned for more patronage,” Usman emphasised.

He said the bank, which started as a regional bank with three branches at inception, has now acquired national status with 34 branches across three geopolitical zones in the country, with a projection of expanding to the 36 states before the end of 2018.

He explained that presence at the ongoing Kano International Trade Fair, was targeted at increasing the bank’s visibility, and showcase its numerous products to customers.


CBN moves to save the Naira from further depreciation




 The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced a special forex intervention to sell $15,000 to each Bureau De Change operators (BDCs) in the country every week.


In a circular issued by U. Abdullahi, CBN's Director at Trade and Exchange department, the apex bank said the approach is to cater for the yuletide season and the resultant increase in the demand for Personal/Business Travel Allowance.

This is to inform Bureau De Change (BDC) operators and the general public that with the approach of the yuletide season and the resultant increase in the demand for Personal/Business Travel Allowance, the CBN has in addition to the existing market days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) introduced a special intervention day every Thursday for $15,000 per BDC commencing on Thursday, December 06, 2018.

“All operators are hereby advised to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the extant regulations on the disbursement of forex cash to their respective customers as any case of infraction will be appropriately sanctioned,” the circular reads.

In a bid to ensure stability in Nigeria's local currency, the Central Bank of Nigeria has been interplaying at the foreign exchange market to arrest depreciation against the US dollar.

Last week, the Naira traded all-time low against the US dollar at the parallel market in the year, dropping more than N7 to N370 per dollar.

But Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), explained that the country has enough foreign reserves to curtail the situation. He also attributed the sharp fall in Naira to currency speculators.
As at the third quarter of 2018, the apex bank has intervened to the tune of $11.88 billion to authorised dealers, according to CBN's Economic Report for the quarter.

In May, it signed a currency swap agreement on behalf of Nigeria with Yi Gang, the governor of Peoples Bank of China on behalf of China valued at 16 billion Renminbi (RMB) which is an equivalent of $2.5billion.
The move was to reduce the difficulties acquiring third currencies - Dollars, Euros and Great Britain Pounds.

Isaac Okorafor, the Director, Corporate Communications Department, had also assured of the Bank’s continued mediation in the interbank foreign exchange market in order to guarantee stability.

CBN approves Diamond Bank as a national bank




The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved the change in the licence of Diamond Bank Plc from an international bank to a national bank with immediate effect. The approval is, however, subject to the conclusion of the sale of Diamond Bank United Kingdom.

The move follows Diamond Bank’s decision to sell its international operations, which included the disposal of its West African Subsidiary in 2017 and Diamond Bank UK, the sale of which is in its final stages. With this approval, the bank will cease to operate as an international bank.

Diamond Bank at the weekend indicated that the re-licensing as a national bank supports its objective of streamlining its operations to focus resources on the significant opportunities in the Nigerian retail banking market, and economy as a whole.

According to the bank, the change to national bank status also enables the bank to maintain a lower minimum capital requirement of 10 per cent as against 15 per cent required for international banks. This creates room for the bank to deploy more capital for stronger growth in the quarters ahead through additional investment in technology platforms, customer acquisition and expansion of loans to the critical sectors of the economy.

The bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Uzoma Dozie said the move to a national banking license marks a continuation of the bank’s strategy to focus on Nigeria’s significant fundamental trends, including a large underbanked population and Africa’s biggest economy.
According to him, by focusing and optimising its resources towards Nigeria and the priority area of retail banking, the bank will be better positioned for longer term growth and greater profitability.

“The reduction in minimum capital requirement also increases our capacity to expand the quantum of business and product services we can offer consumers, as well as representing a key step in strengthening our financial position,” Dozie said.

He noted that this development, however, does not affect the bank’s ability to offer services to its clients in international locations.

According to the bank, with focus on its domestic business being priority, the bank also intends to pay down in full, the Eurobond loan of $200 million at maturity in May 2019. There will be no refinancing of the loan as the intent to pay down with foreign exchange generated from its internal operations, a reflection of the solidity of its operations and funds flow in the last few years

The bank pointed out that top quality services to international customers will continue through its digital channels and network of correspondence banks.

Meanwhile, Diamond Bank has formally introduced its premium lifestyle subscription service, XclusivePlus, for its affluent banking customers.
Speaking on the product, Head, Consumer Banking, Diamond Bank Plc, Kari Tukur, said the bank has seen a rise in customer spend in the past few years for luxury travel, luxury experiences and luxury products among the emerging affluent client segment.

She said the new product is well positioned to further enhance customers’ lifestyles and provide them with the most satisfying rewards.

According to her, XclusivePlus membership comes with an automatic card upgrade to the Diamond Visa signature naira debit card.

“Diamond Bank is the first bank in Nigeria to go to market with this card. This is a naira card with higher spend limits and enabled for international spend. With this card, our customer will enjoy lots of world class travel and lifestyle benefits such as free access to over 800 Premium airport lounges globally, great discounts and VIP treatment at luxury hotels around the world, free travel insurance cover for them and their family for medical emergencies, lost luggage, flight cancellation and much more anytime they travel. This insurance is also valid for foreign visa applications,” Tukur said.

She added that there are also benefits closer to home, including free cinema tickets all year around for the movie lovers, free premium events tickets such as concerts, comedy shows and art exhibitions and lots of great offers and discounts from a wide range of merchants across the country ranging from restaurants, bars, hotels, shopping and much more
XclusivePlus subscribers are also invited to various seminars, conferences and round table discussions covering a wide range of topics such as wealth management & investment, economic outlook, financial planning, assess to finance and lots more. These events will give them the opportunity to acquire knowledge from industry experts and network with like minds.

“With the XclusivePlus, Diamond Bank is always available to the customer wherever and whenever you need us through the mobile app. With over three million users, the mobile app is loaded with exciting features such as local and foreign currency transfers, bill payments, airtime top-up, esusu, events and movie tickets purchase,” Tukur said.


Nigeria to Become World’s Capital for Infants’ Death by 2021, Says World Bank



By 2021, Africa’s giant, Nigeria, will be crowned world’s capital for death of infants under the age of five, overtaking India, the latest bi-annual economic report of the World Bank’s Bretton Woods Institution has said.
The report seen by TheCable, said Nigeria records the highest number of child malaria deaths anywhere in the world. It also said Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children anywhere in the world, and that 90 per cent of these children are from Northern Nigeria.
“Nigeria will overtake India in 2021 as the country with the most under-five deaths in the world. More children die of malaria in Nigeria than in any other country in the world,” the report said.
According to the current World Bank figures, India, with a population of 1.3 billion recorded 989,000 under-five deaths in 2017, while Nigeria, with 196 million citizens, recorded 714,000 deaths in the same year.
Earlier in the year, Nigeria overtook India as the world’s poverty capital possessing the highest number of people living in extreme poverty anywhere in the world.
According to the report, Nigeria’s weak revenue mobilisation has major implications for its growth and development, including for improving its dire social service delivery outcomes.
The report said: “Poverty remains high in Nigeria and access to basic social services is not universal. In 2016, the World Bank estimated poverty at 38.8 per cent of the population using the national poverty line. But by the international poverty line of PPP-corrected $1.90 per capita per day, an estimated 49.2 per cent of the population lived below poverty in 2017.”
The World Bank report, however, stated that with nine million children out of school, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children of primary school age in the world, with over 90 per- cent of them in the North.
It said: “Vaccination coverage rates in Nigeria have changed little over the last 25 years, in sharp contrast to other West African countries which have made more rapid progress even though they started from higher levels.”

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