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N15bn Access Bank Bond fully subscribed — GMD

By News desk

Access Bank Plc. said on Monday that a five-year Fixed Rate Senior Unsecured N15 billion Green Bond, the first climate bond to be issued in Africa, had been fully subscribed.

Green bond is a bond specifically earmarked to be used for climate and environmental projects. It is typically asset-linked and backed by the issuer’s balance sheet, and are also referred to as climate bonds

The bank’s Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe, stated this at the bond-signing ceremony in Lagos.

Wigwe said that the Green Bond offer was achieved by way of Book Building, a systematic process of generating, capturing, and recording investor demand for shares during an initial public offering (IPO), or other securities during their issuance process.

According to him, this is in order to support efficient price discovery.

He said that the bond, priced at a coupon of 15.5 per cent, had participation from a wide range of asset managers and pension fund administrators.

Wigwe noted that the bank supported the global climate change mitigation and adaptation agenda and was seeking to promote responsible green lending globally.

According to him, the Green Bond issuance demonstrates the bank’s commitment to sustainable operational practices, being a pioneer operator both in domestic and international capital markets.

He added that the bank viewed the global drive for responsible and sustainable green financing as an opportunity to raise capital for the creation of assets through climate change financing.

Wigwe maintained that the bank had a strong track record of deploying environmental and social risk management tools as well as working closely with local and international agencies to deliver a greener outcome from investing activities.

“With our pace-setting experience in the mainstreaming of sustainability in our business operations.

“We are confident that this issue with further help in supporting environmentally friendly investors to meet their investment objectives whilst simultaneously supporting the bank’s customer towards realising growth opportunities in fast-developing low carbon economy,” Wigwe said.

He noted that the new funding would be directed toward financing new loans and refinancing existing loans in accordance with the bank’s Green Bond Framework, and support projects directed at flood defense, solar generation facilities, and agriculture.

First Bank marks 125th anniversary, discloses new plans for Nigeria customers

By News Desk

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has assured customers that it would remain committed to the development and growth of Nigeria as well as the financial industry through enhanced service delivery.

Dr Adesola Adeduntan, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, said this at its 125 years anniversary flag hoisting in Lagos yesterday.

Adeduntan said that the bank, a long-standing institution, had impacted the nation and the world through various financial products and services.

“From that very modest beginning in 1894, First Bank has traversed an incredible journey of delivering impeccable financial services to its customers and supporting the building of the modern-day Nigeria and indeed, West Africa, including our early pivotal role as the monetary and fiscal policy regulator for the entire West African region,” he said.

He said the bank had provided topclass financial services to the country and citizenry and had supported in the past 125 years and would continue in that direction in the future.

“As a long-standing institution, which even predates Nigeria as a unified entity, FirstBank is entrenched in the nation’s development; woven into the very fabric of society, with our involvement in every stage of national growth and development.

“At the amalgamation, independence and through the seasons ever after, we have been here marching hand-in-hand with you and our dear nation. We have enabled financial, technological, industrial and societal advancements, achieving very many firsts over time,” Adeduntan said.

He noted that the institution was celebrating 125 years of unbroken business operations in Nigeria; 125 years of supporting and enabling dreams; 125 years of resilience and relevance.

Adeduntan added that it was celebrating 125 years of trust, safety and security as well as 125 years of long term value to all stakeholders.

He said that the bank was now building for the next 125 years and beyond and would continue to maintain its leadership position.

The chief executive officer said that hoisting of the flag symbolises the identity, impact, permanence and reverence of an institution.

He said that the bank was among the few companies in the world that survived over 100 years of existence.

Also speaking, Adebisi Shonubi, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, lauded the bank for its achievement in the development of the financial sector and Nigeria as a whole.

Shonubi said that integrity was very important in the banking industry, adding that First Bank had remained a major player both in human capital development and financial service delivery.

Nigerian banks fraud hits N25bn annually 

By News desk

Pro-tem President Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors of Nigeria (CIFIAN), Dr. Victoria Enape, has disclosed that fraud volume in Nigerian banks increased dramatically to about N25 billion in the past five years.

Enape said this in Abuja on Friday at the opening of intensive training for forensic and investigative auditors with the theme “the use of forensic and investigative auditing for prevention of fraud, corruption and cyber-crimes in Nigeria”.

She noted that the training had become necessary going by the corruption in most government and financial institution and its (corruption) rejection by the United Nation (UN), World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Government at all levels is losing billions of naira every day and most of these criminal cases bordering on fraud, corruption and cyber-crimes are partly because there are no forensic and investigative auditors in Nigeria to prevent fraud from taking place.

“The place of training of forensic and investigative auditors cannot be overemphasized because the whole world has embraced this current trend years ago which has assisted them in the fight against fraud.

“Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors is anti-fraud organisation saddled with the responsibility of providing skills to relevant professionals on the use of science and technology to prevent, detect and investigate fraud of all kinds.

“The Institute also has mechanism to block illicit financial flows in the country; it therefore become indispensible in Nigeria if Nigerians and the future generation must experience peace and economic development,” Enape said.

According to her, scandalous collapses, financial loses, loss of employment, investment and investors, loss of earnings and means of livelihood are some of the consequential social dislocations and risks of corruption and fraud.

She explained that fraud and corruption weakens the institutional capacity of governments and organisations as well as impedes trade and investment.

The CIFIAN boss, therefore, reiterated the urgent need for the passage of the Institute’s Bill by the House of Representatives to give concurrency after Senate passed the Bill on July 5, 2018.

Registrar of the Institute, Valentine Ugwu, said the Bill, when passed would also assist government in during elections.

“Forensic auditing can also be used to tackle and prevent electoral fraud. And President Buhari is the only Nigerian leader that has openly tackled corrupt persons since the existence of the country.

“We intend to help President Buhari in the fight against corruption by validating and enhancing members’ standing as forensic and investigative auditors with a credible, comprehensive and internationally recognized certification,” Ugwu said.

Dangote cement, GTB top NSE gainers’ table

By News desk

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) closed trading on Thursday with Dangote Cement  leading the gainers’ table and closely trailed by Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).

Dangote cement shares improved N2 to close at N192 per share while GTB followed with a gain of 60k to close at N33.60 and  Access Bank garnered 35k to N6 per share.

FBN Holdings appreciated by 20k to close at N7.60, while Ikeja Hotel rose by 15k to close at N1.67 per share.

Meanwhile, activities on the exchange maintained a positive outlook  with the All-Share Index appreciating by 0.38 per cent.

The index during trading rose by 111.04 points or 0.36 per cent to close at 30,989.60 as against 30,878.56 which was recorded berely 24 hours before.

In the same vein, the market capitalisation increased by N44 billion to close at N11.558 trillion against N11.514 trillion on Wednesday.

Analysts at Cordros Capital urged investors to trade cautiously in the short to medium term, as selloffs were likely to persist, amidst the brewing political uncertainty, and the absence of a positive catalyst.

They, however, said the stable macroeconomic fundamentals remained supportive of long-term gains.

On the other hand, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria topped the laggards’ table with a loss N1 to close at N24 per share.

Union Bank trailed with 60k to close at N6.15, while Stanbic IBTC lost 50k to close at N47 per share.

Julius Berger dipped 40k to close at N28, while Fidson Healthcare declined by 25k to close at N4.70 per share.

In spite of the growth posted by market indices, the volume of shares traded closed lower by 28.70 per cent with an exchange of 268.26 million shares valued at N3.15 billion in 3,756 deals.

This was in contrast with a total of 376.26 million shares worth N2.97 billion traded in 3,405 deals on Wednesday.

It was gathered that investors have continuously seek banking stocks ahead of the 2018 earnings season.

Specifically, Zenith Bank was the most active stock, exchanging 36.47 million shares valued at N806.51 million.

United Bank for Africa followed with an account of 31.64 million shares worth N232.34 million, while FBN Holdings traded 28.99 million shares valued at N217.37 million.

FCMB Group sold 19.99 million shares worth N39.01 million, while Fidelity Bank sold 19.32 million shares worth N44.02 million.

CBN, SEC approve Aceess Bank request to acquire Diamond Bank

By News desk

After weeks of announcing their merger, Access Bank and Diamond Bank Plc have obtained approval in principle from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to fast-track their fusion.

Access Bank Executive Director, Personal Banking, Victor Etuokwu, who disclosed the approval on Tuesday in Lagos, said that CBN and SEC had granted both banks approval in principle for the merger process to commence.

Etuokwu said that the banks were awaiting the final approval which would be granted after convening shareholders meeting.

“So far, we have gotten approvals up to approval in principle. There are three approvals that we need for this process.

“The first one is the pre-order approval which is like the first approval, the next approval is the approval in principle.

“The final approval comes after approval in principle and it will come after you have convened your shareholders meetings,’’ Etuokwu added.

He said that the banks would convene shareholders meetings in February, noting that the approval would be taken to court once approved by the shareholders.

Etuokwu said all the processes including final approval would be completed in the next 60 days.

He said that the new bank would remain committed to retail and corporate banking to drive financial inclusion for desired growth and development.

“We need to invest in retail market to drive economic growth, this is what the new bank will do, a strong corporate and a strong retail bank,’’ he said.

On staff retrenchment, Etuokwu said that members of staff would be retrained for different roles in case of overlapping.

“Staff will be retrained for new roles where there are overlaps, one of the branches can be converted to an e-branch or Automated Teller Machine (ATM) gallery,’’ he added.

Diamond Bank official in charge of Retail banking, Robert Giles, said that integration of both banks had commenced for seamless service delivery.

Giles said that ATMs of both banks could be used by customers at no cost, noting that they were committed at taking costs away from customers.

Mr Herbert Wigwe, Access Chief Executive Officer, at a joint news conference recently said it had already finalised terms and obtained regulatory approvals for a Tier II capital issuance to raise 250 million dollars available for draw down in January 2019.

He said that the bank had also obtained “No Objection’’ from the CBN to undertake a Rights Issue to raise up to N75 billion or 207 million dollars in the first half of 2019.

Wigwe said that shareholder approvals and other regulatory approvals to that effect would be obtained before the offer opens.

He noted that the fund raising exercise would accelerate the capital management plan to support retail growth previously set out in the bank’s five-year strategy.

Wigwe said that the bigger entity was ready to absorb the staff of Diamond Bank at the completion of the deal by end of Jun, without any disengagement.

German bank link to Panama Papers raided

By Newsdesk

Police raided six Deutsche Bank offices in and around Frankfurt on Thursday over money laundering allegations linked to the “Panama Papers”, the public prosecutor’s office in Germany’s financial capital said.

Investigators are looking into the activities of two unnamed Deutsche Bank employees alleged to have helped clients set up offshore firms to launder money, the prosecutor’s office said.

Around 170 police officers, prosecutors and tax inspectors searched the offices where written and electronic business documents were seized.

“Of course, we will cooperate closely with the public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt, as it is in our interest as well to clarify the facts,” Deutsche Bank said, adding it believed it had already provided all the relevant information related to the “Panama Papers”.

The news comes as Deutsche Bank tries to repair its tattered reputation after three years of losses and a drumbeat of financial and regulatory scandals.

Christian Sewing was appointed as chief executive in April to help the bank to rebuild. He trimmed U.S. operations and reshuffled the management board but revenue has continued to slip.

Deutsche Bank shares were down more than 2 percent by 1409 GMT and have lost almost half their value this year.

OFFSHORE LINKS

The investigation was triggered after investigators reviewed so-called “Offshore-Leaks” and “Panama Papers”, the prosecutor said.

The “Panama Papers”, which consist of millions of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, were leaked to the media in April 2016.

The prosecutors said they are looking at whether Deutsche Bank may have assisted clients to set up offshore companies in tax havens so that funds transferred to accounts at Deutsche Bank could skirt anti-money laundering safeguards.

In 2016 alone, over 900 customers were served by a Deutsche Bank subsidiary registered on the British Virgin Islands, generating a volume of 311 million euros, the prosecutors said.

They also said Deutsche Bank employees are alleged to have breached their duties by neglecting to report money laundering suspicions about clients and offshore companies involved in tax evasion schemes.

The investigation is separate from another money laundering scandal surrounding Danish lender Danske Bank, where Deutsche Bank is involved.

MTN shares rises after $8.1bn dispute settlement intensified

By Newsdesk

Shares in Mobile telecommunication giant, MTN Group, has surged 4 percent barely 24 hours after Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN announced that final decision has been reached on the $8.1 billion MTN Nigeria repatriation.

The stock rose yesterday as much as 4.1 percent before trimming gains to trade 2.14 percent higher at 87.6 South African rands.

According to traders, the rise is due to the announcement by CBN that the sanctioned placed on the telecommunication firm in August due to ongoing dispute could soon be lifted.

“Looks like there’s something that going to be finalised in Nigeria and the share price is reflecting that,” said Ryan Woods of Independent Securities.

Another trader hinted that the disputed amount could be reduced by the Nigerian Apex bank.

US, China stocks gains, dollar weaker as Democrats win House

By News Desk,

Wall Street stock futures and Asian shares held earlier gains on Wednesday after Democrats won control of the U.S. House of Representatives, boosting the party’s ability to block President Donald Trump’s political and economic agenda.

The Democrats’ House win creates a clear hurdle for Republicans to easily pass legislation through both chambers of Congress, clouding the outlook for some of Trump’s key economic proposals.

In Asian trade, major broadcasters projected the Democrats would wrest House control, while the Republicans were seen retaining the Senate.

While both outcomes were broadly in line with market expectations, a reason markets did not sell off, the prospect of political gridlock creates some uncertainty for investors. The dollar weakened against most of its major counterparts.

In equities markets, U.S. S&P500 futures ESc1 rose 0.3 percent, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent and Japan’s Nikkei gained 1.2 percent

“It has clearly become difficult for Republicans to pass additional tax hikes or amendments to Dodd-Frank regulations (on financial institutions) for instance,” said Tomoaki Shishido, fixed income analyst at Nomura Securities.

Investor sentiment had been volatile in Asian trade with stocks and the dollar swinging on the Republicans’ fluctuating prospects of retaining the House.

While a split Congress would put a brake on Trump’s agenda, such as tax cuts or deregulation, some investors think the Democrats may agree to more spending.

“There are still areas with compromise for spending, so even with a split government I expect more fiscal stimulus ahead. There is some possibility for compromise on infrastructure spending as well,” said Steve Friedman, New York-based senior economist at BNP Paribas Asset Management.

“If there is additional fiscal stimulus, it suggests that fiscal policy is more of a tailwind for U.S. growth and it should, all things equal, be supportive for stocks.”

On the other hand, many investors also expect Trump to continue to take a hard line on tariffs, which he can impose without Congressional approval. That keeps alive worries about a trade war between China and the United States.

Trump’s massive tax cut, enacted in December, and a spending agreement reached in February have helped lift the U.S. economy, but they have also widened U.S. federal budget deficit.

As a result, Treasury supply has been growing, pushing U.S. bond yields higher.

The election results pushed down the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield about 2 basis points to 3.193 percent, off its seven-year high of 3.261 percent touched a month ago. But the debt market also remains under pressure from this week’s record volumes of longer-dated government debt supply.

Oil prices were soft after a 2 percent fall the previous day, with U.S. crude futures hitting an eight-month low as Washington granted sanction waivers to top buyers of Iranian oil and as Iran said it has so far been able to sell as much oil as it needs to.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures traded 0.5 percent lower at $61.91 a barrel having hit a low of $61.31 on Tuesday, the weakest price since March 16.

In the currency market, the dollar dipped on the U.S. election results. Against the yen, it was 0.2 percent lower at 113.23, reversing earlier gains to one-month high of 113.82 yen.

The euro rose 0.3 percent to $1.1467 and the British pound gained 0.3 percent to $1.3140, hitting a three-week high.

Sterling extended gains made the previous day on hopes of a Brexit deal breakthrough after Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said “Thumbs Up” on his way out of a cabinet meeting.

That helped sterling recover losses following remarks from a senior member of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party earlier that it looked like Britain would exit the EU without a deal.

China open to talk trade with US – VP

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

A top deputy to Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing remained ready to discuss a trade solution with the U.S., but cautioned that the country wouldn’t again be “bullied and oppressed” by foreign powers.

Vice President Wang Qishan — one of China’s best-known economic reformers — told Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum in Singapore that trade was still the “anchor and propeller of China-U.S. relations.” Wang prefaced his support for talks — a refrain Chinese leaders have repeated for months — with a warning about the dangers of “right-leaning populism” and “unilateralism.”

“The Chinese side is ready to have discussions with the U.S. on issues of mutual concern and work for a solution on trade acceptable to both sides,” Wang told the crowd of more than 400 business and political leaders Tuesday. “China will stay calm and sober-minded and embrace greater openness to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.”

Still, Wang — a long-time friend of Xi’s — said that China had been “bullied and oppressed by imperialist powers” and must “blaze its own trail.”

Wang was speaking the day after Xi pledged at a Shanghai trade expo to further open his country’s markets, while taking a few veiled swipes at U.S. counterpart Donald Trump. The rare speech by Wang comes amid an effort by top Communist Party leaders to reassure global investors spooked by the U.S.-China trade war and a deepening slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

‘Dig In Their Heels’

While Trump has asked cabinet officials outline the terms of a possible deal with Xi, Bloomberg News reported Friday, Chinese officials have given no indication they are ready to meet key U.S. demands, such as halting forced technology transfers or rolling back support for state-owned enterprises. On Monday, Trump told a campaign rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana, that he still believed he and Xi could settle the dispute.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.7 percent Tuesday, trimming last week’s rally. The yuan weakened as much as 0.16 percent to 6.9240 per dollar in offshore trading after its best week since March.

“We’re going to see these two sides continue to dig in their heels — both sides still think they have the upper hand,” Scott Kennedy, deputy director of China studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told Bloomberg Television. “For President Trump, even though he’s signaling that it’s possible they want a deal, there’s actually no monster benefit to him economically or politically. So I think they’ll continue to do this dance and all of us will continue to watch.”

Diplomatic Talks

Even as the U.S. and China spar over everything from tariffs to American support for the democratically run island of Taiwan, the two sides have sought to preserve broader ties. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced Monday that they would host their Chinese counterparts Friday in Washington for a regular diplomatic and security dialogue.

Wang was introduced Tuesday by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP. The company owns both Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Media Group, which organized the New Economy Forum.

‘Rising Populism’

The Chinese vice president, who was making his third overseas trip since assuming the government’s No. 2 post in March, used the speech to express concerns about growing populist sentiment. He said the trend, along with rapid technological advances and global demographic shifts, demanded a new approach to global governance.

“We are facing the challenge of rising populism and unilateralism,” Wang said. “Such rapid changes have split some countries and societies. The polarization of right-leaning populism has manifested itself in political demands, which has led to unilateral policies against globalization and seriously affected the international political ecosystem.”

Wang, who last year retired from China’s supreme Politburo Standing Committee, has been called on to handle some of China’s most difficult tasks over the years. From 2012 to 2017, he oversaw Xi’s unprecedented crackdown on corruption, which ensnared more than 1.5 million officials including the country’s former top general and ex-domestic security chief.

‘Trumpian Rhetoric and Disaster’

Wang also helped set up China’s first investment bank with Morgan Stanley in the 1990s. He maintains close ties with prominent Wall Street figures, including former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, another NEF attendee. He has also played a more diplomatic role, receiving foreign dignitaries, including Stephen Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist.

Peter Mandelson, a former U.K. trade representative in Brussels and chairman of Global Counsel, told an NEF panel discussion on trade Tuesday that China must take a more active role, if it wanted to preserve global governance bodies such as the World Trade Organization.

“China has to do very, very much more than it is in taking the initiative and exercising that responsibility in stepping up to the plate in helping everyone else lead a reform process in the WTO,” Mandelson said. “If we don’t see China doing that, then you are going to see more Trumpian rhetoric and disaster.”

CBN pumps $337m, Chinese Yuan into FOREX market

By Business Desk,

In another round of intervention, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Friday, injected over 337 million dollars in the Inter-Bank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market.

The CBN also intervened to the tune of 53.44 million Chinese Yuan in the Spot and Short tenured forwards of the inter-bank foreign exchange market.

The CBN spokesman, Mr Isaac Okorafor, in a statement in Abuja said that the move was in furtherance of the bank’s commitment to ensuring adequate liquidity and stability in the inter-bank foreign exchange market.

The Bank had on Tuesday injected 210 million dollars in the Inter-Bank foreign exchange market.

Meanwhile, the Naira maintained its steady rate against major currencies around the globe, exchanging for N362 to a dollar in the Bureau De Change segment of the market on Friday.