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Agba Leads Govt Delegation to South Korea on Bilateral Cooperation
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, is at the head of a Nigerian government’s delegation to Seoul, South Korea, for a week-long mission for strategic dialogues with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Korea-Africa Foundation (KAF).
The visit is intended to, among other purposes, forge new frontiers of mutual cooperation between the countries and deepen existing bilateral ties.
As a prelude to the series of meetings and dialogue sessions, Agba met with the Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea, Ali Mohammed Magashi, with top officials in the Embassy, and discussed cross-cutting issues bordering on the status of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Korea.
Issues that featured during the discussions included outstanding Agreements such as the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement; Labour; Avoidance of Double Taxation to be concluded to further boost the investment climate and the volume of trade of USD 2 billion in 2021 and the way forward.
The Minister took the opportunity of the meeting to shed light on the Nigeria’s National Development Plan 2021- 2025 and the investment opportunities for the South Korean private investors in key sectors such as Agriculture, Manufacturing, ICT, Oil and Gas (midstream) to accelerate the country’s economic growth that is already diversified.
He urged the ambassador to canvass for investments in the identified sectors in pursuance of Nigeria’s unwavering effort at ensuring and consolidating its concentric diversification of the national economy.
At the meeting with the President of the 5-year-old Korea-Africa Foundation, Mr Lyeo Woon-Ki, the minister applauded the purpose of establishing the Foundation as an affiliate of the South Korean’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is to, among other things, foster business and cultural cooperation between the country and African continent as well as promote genuine partnership in political and academic spheres.
He noted that South Korea had a vibrant private sector and gave insight into the plan envisaged for the sector in the NDP 2021-2025 for investment in Nigeria.
The minister allayed the fears expressed by the Foundation President regarding doing business in Nigeria and apprised him of the immigration and customs reforms in place and the country’s upward leap, by 20 points, in the ease of doing business ranking.
He also paid a courtesy visit to the Acting President of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Mr. Youn-Young Lee.
As a grant aid provider under the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the minister lauded the “excellent cordial relationship” between the Federal Government of Nigeria and KOICA since it began operations in 2008.
He thanked the President of the Republic of South Korea, His Excellency, Yoon Suk Yeol, the Government and people of South Korea for the prestigious National Award of Diplomatic Service Merit (Heungin Medal) recently awarded to him in Abuja as first recipient in Africa.
Agba said the several grant aids and technical cooperation projects implemented by the Agency had been impactful.
He acknowledged the various KOICA-supported capacity-building training extended to the Nigerian government officials in several fields of human endeavours as well as technical cooperation.
The training, according to him, “covers short-term, long-term, Masters and Postgraduate scholarship programmes and in-country training programme.”
The minister noted the future areas of cooperation mentioned by the KOICA President and confirmed their alignment with Nigeria’s priorities as encapsulated in the NDP 2021-2025.
Meanwhile, the Minister, consequent upon receiving a report about a Nigerian family who lost four children in domestic fire that razed their apartment in Ansan Danwon, on the outskirts of Seoul, decided to pay the family and the Nigerian community in Ansan Danwon a condolence visit.
The visit happened on Monday, March 27, 2023, in company with the Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea.
They condoled with the Nigerian family of seven, Mr. Felix Nwafor, who lost four children (2 boys and 2 girls) to an inferno that occurred in the early hours of that day. The couple and a two-year old daughter who survived are receiving medical attention at a Korean Hospital in the area.
Dangote Lists N300bn Bonds, Largest Ever on NGX, FMDQ
Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) has formally listed its N300 billion Series 1 and 2 bonds issued under the Dangote Industries Funding Plc during a grand listing ceremony at both the FMDQ and the Nigeria Exchange Limited (NGX) in Lagos.
Olakunle Alake, Group Managing Director of Dangote Industries Limited told investors during the listing ceremony that the bonds were primarily for part-financing the Group’s 650,000 bpd refinery project.
He explained that the decision of the Company to issue bonds to raise the required capital for part-financing the refinery project was to encourage the participation of Nigerians in the financing of the project.He noted that the bonds remains the largest aggregate local currency bond issuance within a calendar year by any corporate organization in the history of the capital markets. .
Mr. Alake noted that following very rigorous internal assessment, the management concluded that tapping the local capital markets was inevitable, considering the sheer scale of the project being developed, as well as the existing market volatility.
He said that while the Dangote Group is not new at raising funds in the local capital markets, being a first-time issuer at the holding company level presented a fresh challenge for the Company. However, the challenge was one the management was willing to embrace to ensure the desired outcome was achieved.
According to him: “Today, we are delighted to have successfully completed the largest aggregate local currency bond issuance by a corporate in the Nigerian capital markets within a calendar year. The proceeds from the Series 1 and 2 bond issuances were dedicated to part-financing the Dangote Petroleum Refinery Project which is the initiative by the Group to establish an Integrated Petrochemical Complex, and the largest Single Train Petroleum Refinery in the World.”
Alake recalled that the DIL recorded another first through the N187 billion series 1 bonds (under the N300 billion programme), being the largest corporate bond ever issued in the history of the Nigerian capital markets and the management was pleased to have set the remarkable milestones, showcasing the depth, resilience and liquidity of the domestic capital markets, whilst reflecting the strong credit quality of the issuer, despite the current global market volatility.
He said: “The bonds issuances were well received by the market and recorded participation from a wide range of investors including domestic pension funds, asset managers, insurance companies, and high net-worth investors.
Indeed, the reception of the market was buoyed by the strategic importance of the project and its expected impact on the Nigerian economy. Overall, we strongly believe the success of the Series 1 and 2 bond issuances further demonstrates investor confidence in our credit story and the appreciation of the work done by the Group across several key sectors that are crucial to the development of Nigeria and the continent at large.”
Alake pointed out that his Company was not new in the business of listing securities on NGX. “We are therefore conversant with all the listing requirements and promise to be prompt and up to date in that regard. We count on the cooperation and support of NGX and the stockbrokers to meet this important investors’ objective.”
The DIL Group Managing Director assured that the company would remain resolute in the Nigerian and African story and continue to demonstrate commitment, as one of the foremost pan-African conglomerates, through investments in projects and initiatives that directly improve the quality of lives of Nigerians. “Indeed, these are very exciting times for us as a business, and so we would continue to welcome opportunities to work with stakeholders in the domestic capital markets towards accelerating the economic activities across Africa, whilst maximizing stakeholder returns.
Also speaking at the event, the lead Issuing House for series 1 of the bonds and the Chief Executive Officer, of Standard Chartered Capital & Advisory Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Yemisi Deji-Bejide, expressed appreciation of her organization to the management of the DIL for reposing so much confidence in Standard Chartered by entrusting it with the responsibility.
She said: “Every time we gather at FMDQ for the listing ceremony of an issuance by the Dangote Group, it is always a record milestone. Early in 2022, we issued a bond for Dangote Cement which was the largest corporate bond issuance at the time, and little did we know that a few months down the line, the Group will comfortably break that record.
Mrs. Deji-Bejide described the success of the transaction as a strong testament to the fact that Investors strongly believe in Dangote Group’s credit story and are willing to continue to support the growth of the business. Also, she said it demonstrated the depth of the Nigerian capital markets and resilience, despite all the volatility in the global markets and the macro headwinds.
“Lastly and most importantly, investors are keen to support impactful infrastructure projects in Nigeria, as the proceeds of the bond are being used to fund the largest single train refinery in the world”, Mrs. Deji-Bejide added.
Meanwhile, at the Nigeria Exchange Limited where the symbolic gong ceremony was held to commemorate the listing, the Group Managing Director for DIL, Mr. Alake, who was represented by the DIL Group Chief Finance Officer , Mallam Mustapha Ibrahim thanked the investor community for their support for the transaction as well as our various advisors and stakeholders.
He also commended the Nigeria Exchange Limited (NGX) for its unwavering support throughout this entire process of issuing and listing the bonds as well as their continued commitment towards deepening the Nigerian capital markets.
Zenith Bank Records 24% Growth in Gross Earnings 2022
Zenith Bank Plc has announced its audited results for the year ending December 31, 2022, achieving an impressive double-digit growth of 24% in gross earnings from NGN765.6 billion reported in the previous year to NGN945.5 billion in 2022. This is despite the persistent challenging macroeconomic environment and headwinds.
According to the audited financial results for the 2022 financial year presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), the double-digit growth in gross earnings was driven by a 26% year-on-year (YoY) growth in interest income from NGN427.
Impairments grew by 107% from NGN59.9 billion to NGN124.2 billion, while interest expense grew 63% YoY from N106.8 billion to N173.5 billion, respectively. The impairment growth, which also resulted in an increase in the cost of risk (from 1.9% in 2021 to 3.3% in the current year), was due to the impact of Ghana’s sovereign debt restructuring programme. The growth in interest expense increased the cost of funds from 1.5% in 2021 to 1.9% in 2022 due to hikes in interest rates globally.
Customer deposits increased by 39%, growing from NGN6.47 trillion in the previous year to NGN8.98 trillion in the current year. The growth in customer deposits came from all products and deposit segments (corporate and retail), thus consolidating the bank’s market leadership and indicating customers’ trust.
The continued elevated yield environment positively impacted the bank’s Net-Interest-Margin (NIM), which grew from 6.7% to 7.2% due to an effective repricing of interest-bearing assets. Operating expenses grew by 17% YoY, but growth remains below the inflation rate. Total assets increased by 30%, growing from NGN9.45 trillion in 2021 to NGN12.29 trillion, mainly driven by growth in customer deposits. With the steady and continued recovery in economic activities, the Group prudently grew its gross loans by 20%, from NGN3.5 trillion in 2021 to NGN4.1 trillion in 2022, which increased the Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio modestly from 4.2% to 4.3% YoY. The capital adequacy ratio decreased from 21% to 19%, while the liquidity ratio improved from 71.2% to 75%. Both prudential ratios are well above regulatory thresholds.
In 2023, the Group intends to expand its frontiers as it also reorganises into a holding company structure, adding new verticals to its businesses and growing in all its chosen markets, both locally and internationally.
As a testament to its commitment to shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend payout of N2.90 per share, bringing the total dividend to N3.20 per share.
In recognition of its track record of excellent performances, Zenith Bank was recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 13th consecutive year, in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best Bank in Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria 2021 and 2022 in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, by the Ethical Boardroom; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation In Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards. Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and Retail Bank of the year, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. Similarly, Zenith Bank was named as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Most Innovative Bank of the Year 2019 by Tribune Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2020 by Independent Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.
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