BDC lobbies for supplus Yuan disbursement

By NewsDesk,

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has urged Central Bank of Nigeria to approve Renminbi (Yuan) disbursements to its members so as to deepen China-Nigeria Swap deal.

However, the President, ABCON, Aminu Gwadabe, said that approval of their request would enable BDCs sell Personal and Business Travelling Allowances to its customers in Yuan.

Speaking on need for the apex bank to look into the disbursement, Gwadabe stated that the sale of BTAs and PTAs to China bound businessmen will make them get used to the authentic features of the Yuan to avoid being issued fake currencies for transactions.

The ABCON chief applauded the CBN for taking proactive measures in prosecuting the deal and the stability of the Naira at the nation’s foreign exchange market.

Gwadabe noted that the swap deal and its full implementation would continue to shore up the value of the naira as pressures hitherto put on it by the dollar would be reduced.

NAN reports that the CBN sealed about N720 billion deal with the Peoples Bank of China in a move that would facilitate trade between both countries and maintain financial market stability, among others.

The CBN noted that the 41 items earlier banned on June 23, 2015 remained banned under the new deal.

The apex bank also disclosed at the end of the Bankers Committee Meeting that it would give incentives to Nigerians who import goods from China.

The committee agreed that importers of Chinese goods would be encouraged to bring invoices in Renminbi.

Since the Chinese Yuan joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) basket of currencies in 2016, it was fast gaining recognition by both European and African Central Banks to be used in their foreign reserves.

White House seeks to block Congress against killing ZTE deal

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

The White House has assured that it would do within confine of its power to derail an effort in the U.S. Congress to block the Trump administration’s deal to allow ZTE Corp, China’s No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker, to resume doing business with American suppliers, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The ZTE issue encompasses U.S.-China relations, national security, trade and President Donald Trump’s ties to fellow Republicans in the Senate.

The administration wants to change legislative language in a defense spending bill before the Senate, but will intervene later in the legislative process, the Journal said, citing a senior White House official.

The Senate was expected to pass its bill as soon as this week. It will later need to be reconciled with a defense spending measure already passed by the House of Representatives.

The White House was not immediately available for comment.

Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, and Democrats expressed national security concerns about ZTE after it broke an agreement to discipline executives who had conspired to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

The United States had banned the company but later moved to lift the ban. In a settlement with the U.S. Commerce Department, the company agreed earlier this week to pay a $1 billion fine, overhaul its leadership and meet other conditions, including putting $400 million in escrow in a U.S.-approved bank.

A Commerce Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Journal report.

ZTE shares plunged in Hong Kong and Shenzhen on Wednesday following the settlement, with investors wiping about $3 billion off its market value.

Stock Exchange delists Vono, Ashaka Cement, others

By Business Desk

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) expelled no fewer than 22 companies between 2016 and 2017 over non-performance and failure to meet the required post-quotation standards.

Data obtained by from the exchange showed that the delisted companies included Cappa and D’Alberto, Intercontinental Bank Preference shares, IPWA, G Cappa and West African Glass Industries.

Others were Investment & Allied Insurance, Alumaco, Jos International Breweries, Adswitch, Rokanna, Vono Products, Lennards Nigeria, P.S. Mandrides & Company, Premier Breweries, Costain, Navitus Energy, Nigerian Ropes, Beco Petroleum, M Tech Communication, MTI, UTC and Ashaka Cement.

However, Seven-Up Bottling Company, African Paints and Afrik Pharmaceuticals were delisted in 2018.

Delisting is the process of removing a company from the official list of the stock either voluntarily or by compulsion.

It was revealed that under a voluntary delisting window (which seldom happens), a quoted company can decide to delist from the exchange due to reasons such as merger/acquisition.

On the other hand, the NSE can compulsorily delist a firm when it fails to meet up with post-quotation standards.

The exchange, however, listed only five new companies: The Initiatives, in 2016, while Transcorp Hotels, Global Spectrum Energy Service, Jaiz Bank and Med-View Airline were listed in 2017.

Oscar Onyema, Chief Executive Officer, NSE, said recently that companies in their life cycle would be listed, while others would be delisted over time.

Onyema said the development was the reality that exchanges around the world experienced.

“Companies will delist for different reasons from voluntary to regulatory delisting, mergers and acquisitions and other things that would cause them to delist.

“Our job is to make sure that we make it easy for companies to come in and if they want to leave, that they leave in an orderly manner.

“So, what we have tried to do with our listing rules in the last one to two years is that we have tried to enhance the rules to ensure that companies behave in an orderly fashion,” Onyema said.

Speaking on the issue, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella of the Economics department, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, told NAN that the development was due to the economic situation.

Tella said the Nigerian economy had not performed creditably in the last three years. “The economy entered recession in 2015 and started coming out sluggishly towards the end of 2017.

“A depressed economy cannot encourage investments, either direct investment or portfolio investment, which has to do with the stock market activities.

“So, potential new entrants into the stock market were not encouraged to get listed on the market by the state of the economy,” Tella said.

He explained that those that were delisted were companies that either withdrew voluntarily or were removed by market regulators for non-performing, noting that they were all products of recession.

Sola Oni, Stockbroker and CEO, Sofunix Investment and Communications, said the stock market was a barometer that gauges the mood of the economy.

Oni explained that companies had suffered untold hardship during the recession as production costs shot up and the purchasing power of investors dwindled.

According to him, raising fresh capital requires investors’ willingness to buy shares, and that quoted companies had to exercise caution in order not to risk under-subscription.

Oni, however, expressed optimism that the market would pick up going by the positive economic indicators.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel as economic variables are showing positive signals.

“Some quoted companies had successfully floated rights issues and more will follow suit as recession has ebbed away and investors’ hope is on the upbeat,” Oni said.

London hopes for bright tech future despite Brexit

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

London has a bright tech future post-Brexit working closely with other European capitals but the government should open up more to immigration, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said.

Launching London Tech Week, dubbed Europe’s largest festival of technology and innovation by its organisers, Khan said in an interview that London must “collaborate” with other European hubs regardless of Britain’s future exit from the European Union.

Almost three weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron hosted talks with 60 tech leaders during a Paris sector fair, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, London Tech Week is delivering more than 200 demonstrations spread out across the capital and bringing together 50,000 participants.

“One of the things about London’s future is that we have to work closely with our partners across Europe,” Khan disclosed on the sidelines of this week’s event.

“I love Paris, I love Berlin, love Barcelona, love Frankfurt, other cities across Europe… We shouldn’t see each other as competitors, always competing. Of course sometimes we do compete but also we should be collaborating, working closer together,” the mayor added.

– London ‘open to talent’ –

He said London would remain a welcoming destination despite Brexit, in order to continue a long tradition of attracting talent.

“London’s openness will always be one of our strengths, our diversity and so if you live in France or live in Germany or live in Poland or live in Italy or live in Spain, or around the world, and you want to fulfill your potential we’ll still going to be a welcoming place,” he said.

In a note of caution, however, Khan called for changes to Britain’s visa rules.

“The visa route for non-EU is very clunky…. But also we’ve got to make it easier for talented people from the EU to come to London.”

As part of London Tech Week, the government on Wednesday announced the creation of 1,600 new jobs and £2.3 billion ($3.1 billion, 2.6 billion euros) of investment into the UK technological economy from the private sector.

“The measures we are announcing… will allow innovative British start-ups to invest in their future, and in the UK, by hiring more skilled people, expanding their business and exporting their expertise across the world,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.

The government also plans to create a so-called Start-Up Visa for entrepreneurs.

“This will replace a visa route which was exclusively for graduates, opening it up to talented business founders,” the statement added.

According to May’s Conservative government, British tech businesses last year attracted $7.8 billion compared with France and Germany’s combined total of $6.0 billion and almost double the UK amount in 2016.

“London has always been a place open to talent. For one thousand years, even before the European Union,” Khan said.

“That’s not going to change. You can come here to study, to be a tourist, to work, to invest.”

Khan, who backed Britain remaining in the EU in the 2016 referendum, is hopeful that the country can ride potential Brexit storms.

A post-Brexit transition period to allow companies and people to adapt has been agreed with the EU in principle until 2020 and Khan said it could extend even further.

“The good news is that the transition period is quite a long way off… We’re not going to fall off a cliff edge in March 2019, it will go on to at least December 2020 and maybe longer,” he said

Asian stocks step back as investors brace for Fed

By Business Desk,

Asian shares slipped back on Wednesday as investors looked to the Federal Reserve policy decision later in the day and any clues it might give on future rate hikes, shifting focus away from the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan. US dropped 0.5 percent, erasing the slim gains they made following Tuesday’s meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trade frictions between the United States and China are also back on radar ahead of Friday, by when Washington has said it will release a list of some $50 billion worth of Chinese goods that will be subject to a 25 percent tariff.

“For Asian markets, tariffs will be the biggest concerns in the near term,” said Yukino Yamada, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 eked out gains of 0.25 percent, following the 0.17 percent gains in the U.S. S&P 500 <.SPX > the previous day.

On Wall Street, technology shares continued to lead the rally, with the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC adding 0.57 percent to finish at record high of 7,703.

With the U.S.-North Korea summit out of the way, market focus is quickly shifting to the Fed’s two-day policy meeting ending on Wednesday.

The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates for the second time this year after a move in March, but the bigger question for investors is the outlook for future monetary tightening amid an ongoing economic expansion.

“With a rate hike almost fully priced in, the focus is on how many times the Fed will raise rates this year and next and how much beyond the levels it considers as neutral to the economy, or what they call the longer-run rates,” said Shuji Shirota, head of macro economic strategy group at HSBC Securities in Tokyo.

Projections from the Fed’s March meeting suggest a benchmark rate of 2.1 percent at end of 2018, based on the median forecast of central bank policymakers, which would mean three rate hikes in total this year.

In the currency market, the dollar was relatively well bid ahead of the Fed’s meeting.

The euro traded at $1.1744 EUR=, off last week’s high of $1.1840 touched on June 7 though it was underpinned by expectations that the European Central Bank may drop a hint of winding up its stimulus after its policy meeting on Thursday.

The dollar stood at 110.50 44 yen JPY=, near its highest levels in about three weeks.

Some emerging market currencies stayed under pressure on worries higher U.S. rates could prompt fund outflows from emerging markets to the United States.

The Mexican peso MXN=D2 hit a 16-month low of 20.724 peso to the dollar on while the South African rand ZAR=D3 dropped to a six-month low of 13.345 per dollar, extending its decline, triggered by disappointing GDP data last week.

Oil prices dropped after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed a surprise build of 833,000 barrels in U.S. crude stockpiles. Analysts had expected a decline of 2.7 million barrels.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures CLc1 traded at $66.00 per barrel, down 0.5 percent.

Elsewhere, bitcoin fell to a 2-1/2-month low of $6,461 at Bitstamp exchange BTC=BTSP on Tuesday on mounting regulatory and security concerns after the weekend hacking of South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail.

It last traded at $6,573, up 0.2 percent.

BoI disburses N2bn loan to cooperative societies

By Business Desk,

The Bank of Industry (BOI) in conjunction with Benue State Government has began disbursement of N2 billion loan to 138 cooperative societies, Gov. Samuel Ortom,  said on Tuesday.

Ortom, who said this at a workshop for  members of cooperative societies in Makurdi,  said  an additional N358 million had been approved for 78 more cooperative societies.

He said that the initiative was  aimed at empowering Benue people in their businesses  through their respective registered cooperative societies.

Represented by Tersoo Kpelai, the Commissioner for Industry Trade and Investment, Ortom explained that the workshop was meant to educate the people on how to setup businesses, where to locate them and how to make profit from their businesses.

He said that members of the 78 cooperative societies in the state had began to access the N348 million recently approved.

Ortom urged people in the state to join cooperative societies to enable them acquire loans from government just as he encouraged cooperative societies to apply for loans to help their members in farming and business.

Congratulating the 78 benefiting cooperatives, a Manager in the  Bank of Industry, Frank Kings,  said only qualified candidates would benefit from the loan.

According to him, the only criterion  to qualify for the loan is for participants to be registered with any of the cooperative societies.

He called on registered cooperative societies to obtain cheque list and submit applications at the ministry of Industry,  Trade and Investment to ease the processes.

Kings said the bank was tackling some of the challenges earlier experienced by the cooperatives, but added that some applicants had already started accessing their loans.

Tesla cuts 9 percent of workforce in search for profit

By Business Desk

Electric car maker Tesla Inc is cutting several thousand jobs across the company as it seeks to reduce costs and become profitable without endangering the critical production ramp-up for its Model 3 sedan.

n an email he said had been sent to staff, billionaire Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday that the cuts were part of a simplification of Tesla’s management structure promised last month.

“As part of this effort, and the need to reduce costs and become profitable, we have made the difficult decision to let go of approximately 9 percent of our colleagues across the company,” the email read.

“These cuts were almost entirely made from our salaried population and no production associates were included, so this will not affect our ability to reach Model 3 production targets in the coming months.”

Tesla has been trying to hit a 5,000 per week production target of its Model 3 sedans after facing initial production hiccups. Last week, Musk said the carmaker should achieve its target by the end of June.

Shares rose as much as 7 percent and were last up 3.6 percent at $344.18.

The layoffs mean there likely will not be more job cuts in the near-term, said Efraim Levy, analyst at CFRA Research, adding that Tesla will likely raise capital early in 2019.

“I don’t think if Tesla becomes profitable in Q3 and Q4, that will be sustainable because of ramping up of the production. The layoffs may help them to achieve profitability in the near-term but not sustain it.”

Tesla has been burning through cash as it continues to spend on its assembly line and prepares for new investments on projects such as the Model Y crossover and its Gigafactory.

Free cash flow, a key metric of financial health, widened to negative $1 billion in the first quarter from negative $277 million in the fourth quarter, excluding costs of systems for its solar business.

Several Wall Street analysts anticipate a capital raise this year despite Musk’s statements that it will not be necessary due to profitability and positive cash flow in the third or fourth quarters.

Tesla said it began notifying impacted workers on Tuesday and would continue to do so throughout the week. A spokesman said it would reduce overall employment back to around 37,000 – roughly in line with numbers at the end of last year.

Musk also said that Tesla had decided not to renew a residential sales agreement with Home Depot (HD.N), and would focus instead on selling its solar products through its own stores and website. The company will seek to re-employ most Tesla employees at Home Depot stores at its own locations.

Musk told employees in May that the company was undergoing a “thorough reorganization” as it contends with production problems, senior staff departures and recent crashes involving its electric cars.

At the start of April, the company’s shares had fallen by around 35 percent from a peak hit last September but signs that it is on course to meet an output target of Model 3 cars have wiped out almost all of this year’s losses.

NSE records trading resumption on 0.45% growth

By Business Desk,

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has opened trading on a positive note on Monday with crucial market indices appreciating following gains by large and medium-size stocks.

The All-Share Index, within about six hours of trading on Monday, rose by 175.09 points or 0.45 per cent to close at 38,844.32 compared with 38,669.23 achieved on Friday.

Market capitalisation increased by N64 billion or 0.46 per cent to close at N14.071 trillion against N14.007 trillion recorded on Friday.

Presco led the gainers’ table, gaining N3.35 to close at N73.70 per share.
Nascon followed with a gain of N1.60 to close at N24, while Nigerian Breweries gained N1 to close at N118 per share.

Flour Mills added 60k to close at N33, while Guaranty Trust Bank gained 45k to close at N41.60 per share.
On the other hand, Lafarge Africa posted the highest price loss to lead the laggards’ table with a loss of 75k to close at N39.05 per share.

Berger Paint trailed with 45k to close at N8.55, while Eterna Oil depreciated by 31k to N6.25 per share.
BOC Gases declined by 22k to close at N4.21, while Ikeja Hotel lost 10k to close at N2.53 per share.

The volume of shares traded closed higher with a growth of 187.18 per cent.

Consequently, investors bought and sold 603.17 million shares worth N3.89 billion transacted in 3,832 deals.

This was in contrast with 210.03 million shares valued at N3.89 billion exchanged in 4,141 deals on Friday.

A breakdown of the activity chart shows that Ikeja Hotel dominated trading activities with 279.64 million shares worth N704.99 million.
U,nited Capital Plc followed with an account of 79.128 million shares valued at N253.965 million, while Africa Prudential sold 56.77 million shares worth N242.91 million.

Dangote Sugar exchanged 32.52 million shares valued at N641.92 million, while Access Bank traded 22.345 million shares worth N241.05 million.

GTBank declares Supreme Court judgment on Innoson debt false

By News Desk

The Guaranty Trust Bank has declared story making round that the Supreme Court had asked it to pay Innoson Nigeria N14 billion.

The bank in a statement today described the story as mischievous and malicious.

Here is GTB’s statement:

The attention of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (“the Bank”) has been drawn to false, mischievous and malicious statements circulating in the news and social media in respect of a purported directive by the Supreme Court of Nigeria to the Bank to make payments to one of its debtor Customers.

The Bank’s Customers and the General Public are hereby kindly urged to disregard these false statements as nothing could be further from the truth. There was no directive or Order issued by the Supreme Court of Nigeria to the Bank to make any payment to any of its debtor Customers.

The Bank as a highly responsible corporate citizen will in accordance with its culture and tradition refrain from making comments about on-going litigation matters and will continue to focus on using legal means to recover its bad debts. It must be emphasised that the Bank remains undeterred in its recovery drive against recalcitrant debtors.

We again reiterate that there is no iota of truth in the falsehood being peddled by desperate and mischievous elements and the General Public should disregard same in its entirety.

The Bank remains committed to providing best-in-class customer experience to all its valued Customers.

The bank however did not indicate what the Supreme Court said on the case.

New Tesla software to offer ‘full’ autonomy – Musk

By Business Desk,

SpaceX and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk announced that an update to Tesla’s Autopilot software will be released in August, “it will enable “full self-driving features” for the automaker’s electric cars”.

Musk’s comments come amid a race by automakers and tech firms to roll out fully autonomous vehicles, but also rising concerns about the safety of robotic systems.

The Tesla founder made the disclosure in a Twitter conversation, responding to a user who complained about issues with Autopilot, which is currently considered semi-autonomous with the requirement that a motorist be at the wheel at all times.

Musk said, the updated “Version 9” coming in August would help address a number of issues.

“To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features,” he said.

Musk offered no details about the system, which could accelerate the effort to put more self-driving cars on the roads in the United States.

Federal safety investigators have been looking into a series of accidents, including at least two datal ones, involving self-driving cars.

Musk has complained about the focus on accidents, arguing that self-driving systems are likely to be far safer than human drivers.

“It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the (approximately) 40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage,” Musk said last month.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report last week that a Tesla operating on Autopilot sped up before a crash into a freeway barrier in California that killed the driver.

In another fatal accident last year, Tesla’s Autopilot failed to detect a truck crossing the road, but investigators pointed out the driver was watching a movie at the time and not paying attention with the semi-autonomous system in operation.

After an Uber self-driving vehicle earlier this year killed a pedestrian in Arizona, investigators said the automatic braking system had been disabled.