Naira Firms to N742/$1 at I&E, Weakens to N830/$1 at Parallel Market

The Nigerian Naira continued its strong-arming against the US Dollar in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) arm of the foreign exchange (forex) market on Tuesday, July 18, gaining 6.58 per cent or N52.35 to sell at N742.93/$1 compared with the preceding day’s N795.28/$1, according to data obtained from FMDQ Securities Exchange.

The Naira firmed up despite coming under a forex demand pressure as the value of transactions increased by 352.4 per cent or $121.74 million to $156.29 million from the $34.55 million recorded in the preceding session.

However, in the Peer-2-Peer (P2P) window, the exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar worsened as it depreciated by N36 to trade at N842/$1, in contrast to Monday’s rate of N806/$1.

The continued volatility in the unregulated FX market segment went on in the black market yesterday as the local currency shed N10 against the American currency to settle at N830/$1 versus the previous day’s value of N820/$1.

But the domestic currency appreciated against the Pound Sterling in the spot market by N6.69 to sell at N1,011.07/£1 compared with Monday’s N1,017.76/£1 and gained N3.91 against the Euro to end the session at N868.18/€1 versus N/872.09€1.

CBN restricts acquisition of stake in HoldCos

The Central Bank of Nigeria has restricted the acquisition of controlling stakes in financial holding companies in the country in its corporate governance guidelines.

The CBN said this in a circular to all commercial, merchant, non-interest and payment service banks, and financial holding companies titled ‘Corporate Governance Guidelines’, and signed by the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Departmen, Chibuzo Efobi,.

The new guidelines stated that investors would need prior approval from the CBN before they could acquire majority stakes in holdcos.

In Section 19, which dealt with the protection of shareholders, the new guideline said, “Except where prior approval of the CBN is granted, no individual, group of individuals, their proxies or corporate entities shall own controlling interest in more than one FHC.

“Except with the prior written approval of the CBN, no FHC or any of its director, shareholder or agent shall enter into an agreement which results in: a change in the control of the FHC, the transfer of shareholding of five per cent and above in the FHC; and/or an increase in shareholding to five per cent or more in the FHC.

“Provided that CBN’s prior approval and No Objection shall be sought and obtained, before any acquisition of shares of an FHC by an investor (including through the capital market), that would result in equity holding of five per cent and above: the sale, disposal or transfer of the whole or any part of the business of the FHC; the acquisition or merger of the FHC; the reconstruction of the FHC; or the employment of a management agent, management by or transfer of its business to any such agent.”

The section also added that subsidiaries of an FHC were prohibited from acquiring shares in its FHC and/or other subsidiaries within the Group.

According to the CBN, the new rules were meant for commercial, merchant, non-interest, and payment services banks in Nigeria; and the Corporate Governance Guidelines for Financial Holding Companies in Nigeria.

Access Bank to acquire Standard Chartered’s subsidiaries in five countries

Access Bank Plc and Standard Chartered Bank have entered into agreements for the acquisition of Standard Chartered’s shareholding in its subsidiaries in Angola, Cameroon, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone, and its consumer, private and business banking business in Tanzania.

Each transaction remained subject to the approval of the respective local regulators and the banking regulator in Nigeria.

A statement said the announcement was made on Friday at Standard Chartered’s Headquarters in London, in the presence of senior representatives from both banks, and signed by, the Regional Chief Executive Officer, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered, Sunil Kaushal, and the Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Roosevelt Ogbonna.

The statement said, “The agreement with Access for the sale of the bank’s business in Sub-Saharan Africa is in line with Standard Chartered’s global strategy, aimed at achieving operational efficiencies, reducing complexity, and driving scale.

“Access Bank will provide a full range of banking services and continuity for key stakeholders including employees and clients in the Standard Chartered businesses across the five aforementioned countries.

“Access and Standard Chartered Bank will work closely together in the coming months to ensure a seamless transition, with the transaction expected to be completed over the next 12 months.”

Commenting on the agreement, Kaushal, said, “Following on the announcement we made in April last year, the project is now substantially completed with the announcement for the sale of the five markets and the furtherance of a partnership with Access Bank.

“This strategic decision allows us to redirect resources within the AME region to other areas with significant growth potential, ultimately enabling us to better support our clients.

Commenting on the agreement, Ogbonna stated, “We are pleased to sign this agreement today and express our appreciation for being selected as the preferred partner to Standard Chartered Bank through this transaction, in which it is exiting four African markets and refocusing in one.

“As a distinguished regional and international bank with a rich heritage spanning over 150 years, Standard Chartered Bank has built a solid presence in these markets for over 100 years.”

Champion Breweries’ market capitalisation rises to N32.9bn

The market capitalisation of Champion Breweries increased to N32.9bn in the 2022 financial year, as the company’s operating profit grew to N2.3bn during the same period.

This was disclosed by the company’s Chairman, Dr Elijah Akpan, at the 47th Annual General Meeting of the firm in Lagos.

Akpan said the success represents a remarkable increase and underscores the market’s recognition of the company’s value and potential.

“I’m pleased to inform you that Champion Breweries experienced significant growth in market capitalisation during 2022. At the end of the year, our market capitalisation stood at N32.9bn, compared to N18.4bn at the end of the previous year,” he said.

He said Champion Breweries’ operating profit experienced significant growth, rising to N2.3bn, with profit after tax increasing to N1.58 bn. This, according to Akpan, was attributable to the increase in revenue by an additional N2.7bn, compared to the previous year.

“This growth in revenue reflects the successful execution of business strategies, market demand, and potentially expanding customer base. It also indicates improved operational efficiency, effective cost management and demonstrates the company’s ability to generate sustainable profit and create value for its stakeholders.” Akpan stated.

Looking ahead, he said, “The recent fuel subsidy removal will have an adverse effect on consumer purchasing power. As the subsidy is removed, the price of PMS will increase, putting additional pressure on consumers’ budgets and potentially affecting their ability to spend on other goods and services. We will remain proactive in navigating any uncertainty and leveraging opportunities to drive sustainable growth and value for our shareholders,” he said.

NASCON Allied Industries to merge with Dangote sugar, rice companies

Makers of Dangote Salt and Seasoning, NASCON Allied Industries, has announced a proposed merger with two other companies, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc and Dangote Rice Limited.

This was disclosed in a corporate notice filed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited on Thursday indicating a closed period ahead of the company’s next board meeting.

The company said, “The meeting of the Board of Directors of the Company scheduled to be held on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, will in addition to the Unaudited Financial Statements of the Company for the Half Year ended June 30, 2023 (H1, 2023 Results) consider the proposed merger of the Company with Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc and Dangote Rice Limited.”

During closed periods, all insiders are prohibited from dealing in the shares of a listed company.

Based on post-filing requirements, one of the parties to the merger, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, also revealed that its directors will be considering the proposed merger at its next board meeting scheduled to hold later this month.

“The meeting of the Board of Directors of the Company scheduled to be held on Friday, July 28, 2023, will in addition to the Unaudited Financial Statements of the Company for the Half Year ended June 30, 2023 (H1, 2023 Results) consider a proposed merger of the Company with NASCON Allied Industries Plc and Dangote Rice Limited,” part of the notice said.

Recall that NASCON had weeks back announced the appointment of Thabo Mabe as its substantive managing director and Fatima Aliko-Dangote as a non-executive director.

For the financial year ended December 2022, NASCON recorded revenue growth of 76.6 per cent to N58.8bn from N33.3bn in 2021, supported by growth in salt (up 79.8 per cent) and seasonings (up 50.0 per cent) sales. Cost of sales rose by 60.6 per cent to N34.2bn as against N21.3bn declared in 2021, while gross profit jumped by 105.2 per cent from N12bn in 2021 to N24.5bn in the period under review, operating expenses rose 59.9 per cent to N15.2 bn compared to N9.5 bn in 2021.

Profit after tax increased by 84.1 per cent to N5.5bn for the year, compared to N3.0bn achieved in 2021. Earnings per share also increased to N2.06 in 2021 compared to N1.12 in 2021.