Monday, 25 June 2012

Consolidated Hallmark records N3.8b premium, N271m profit

CONSOLIDATED Hallmark Insurance Plc has announced a gross premium income of N3.8 billion for the year ended December 31st, 2011, which represents an increase of N1 billion or 36 per cent over N2.8 billion recorded in 2010.
The profit after tax (PAT) went up by 28 per cent to N271 million from the 2010 figure of N211 million, while shareholders fund was also grown from N4.l1 billion in 2010 to N4.2 billion last year.
The chairman of the company, Ugo Obi Ralph Ekezie, addressing shareholders at the 17th yearly general meeting held in Lagos said that notwithstanding the daunting challenges posed by the global economy and the harsh operating environment, your company grew its gross premium income from N2.8 billion in 2010 to N3.8 billion during the financial year ended 31st December 2011 which represents a remarkable increase of N1 billion ort 36 per cent.
He attributed the success recorded to the unflinching support of customers and the unwavering determination and commitment of management and staff.
As a result, the shareholders approved the boards recommendation of a dividend payout of two kobo totalling N120 million.
In his remark, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Eddie Efekoha, said: The company has continued to recognise the importance of its staff and their contributions to its growth and development. We are not relenting in the training of staff to improve on their competencies. A comprehensive learning and development programme designed to equip our technical staff with modern skills is run yearly in partnership with external consultants.
According to him: We remain committed to building the company into a world class firm. Our attitude and resolve remain strong and with your continued support, we shall achieve our dream.

Sovereign Trust announces N6.5b premium income

SOVEREIGN Trust Insurance Plc recorded a N798 million profit before tax in 2011 against N415 million recorded in 2010, representing 92 per cent increase.
Profit after tax also stood at N704 million, a 128 per cent increment when ranked over the sum of N308 million recorded in 2010, marking the largest single profit jump in the companys history.
Also, gross premium income of the company went up by 36 per cent to N6.5 billion as against N4.7 billion recorded in the previous year.
The size and quality of the companys balance sheet was buoyed by this performance for the year. While total asset rose by a sum of N1.6 billion to close the year at N7.3 billion, the composition of the asset was well structured to position the company for better future performance.
The Chairman of the Company, Ephraim Faloughi, addressing shareholders of the company at the 17th yearly general meeting in Lagos, told the investors on the back of greater operational efficiency and productivity, we ended fiscal year 2011 revenue and our best earnings per share performance in five years. Our focus on successfully executing a growth strategy paid off as revenue grew by 36 per cent.
He attributed the performance to the effort of the unified Sovereign Trust team and our commitment to structural business strategies aimed at aggressive revenue generation and cost curtailment in the course of the year.
Faloughi told the elated investors that at the back of the financial performance and consistent with our policy of creating superior wealth for our shareholders, the board of directors is pleased to recommend for your approval a dividend of four kobo per every 50 kobo share for the year ended.
The STI chairman told the shareholders, we concluded year 2011 pleased with our progress but with the knowledge that we have even greater challenges and opportunities ahead. Our industry is changing at a never-before-seen pace, and we are energised and eager to lead in order to better serve our customers.
The report of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the investigation into the near collapse of the Nigerian capital market may be made public this week, THISDAY has learnt.
The Ibrahim El-Sudi-led eight-man panel  was asked by the House to conduct  a fresh probe following bribery allegations levelled against the  Herman Hembes House Committee on Capital Market and other Institutions  by the Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arumah Oteh.
The committee invited regulators, operators and other stakeholders to appear before it and explained their roles in the market since the downturn began in 2008.
Sources close to the committee said after delays due to non-submission of documents by some government agencies, the report has now been finalised and would be table before the House this week.
The committee was waiting for some vital documents from key organisations such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), SEC and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Representatives of these organisations had promised during the hearing to bring the documents but they were delaying. I can now confirm to you that the report is ready and would be laid before the House this week, the source said.
While tasking the ad hoc committee, the Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal, had said that the house had no intention of engaging anybody in a battle through the investigation.
You are all aware of the history of this hearing. We have gone full circle. This is a new beginning of great expectations. It is a hearing that is looking for answers to the various problems in the capital market. 
It is not an adversarial hearing but one that seeks to bring to the fore, the factors working against our capital market. Whatever has happened should be put behind us because Nigerians are expecting too much from us to dig seriously into what brought the capital market to where we are today, he said at the time.
On his part, El-Sudi said: It is important to emphasise the focus of this probe given recent happenings which have been widely publicised in the media.
Our assignment is to identify the manifest causes of the markets near collapse and challenges that have held back its recovery with a view to finding lasting solutions for the investing public, the operators, the regulators and the companies that rely on the capital market for long term funds and the economy as a whole.
The Committee on Industry of the House of Representatives has harped on the need for manufacturers in the country to raise their level of local content utilisation in producing made in Nigeria goods to reflect government's backward integration policy.
The committee, led by its Chairman, Mohammed Ogoshi Onawo, made the call while embarking on a tour and assessment of some manufacturing outfits in Lagos State, which have benefited from funding from the Bank of Industry (BoI).
According to Onawo, the assessment exercise, which forms part of their oversight function on the activities of BoI, also provides a first-hand opportunity to meet Nigerian manufacturers and assess the challenges facing the sector, in order to go back and map out solutions.
He expressed the need for manufacturers to increase the level of local content inclusion in the factories and plants visited with the ultimate goal of attaining the ultimate goal of 100 per cent local content inclusion.
He noted that Nigeria is blessed with abundant resources and raw materials and urged industrialists in the country to exploit these to the economys advantage, adding that the backward integration policy of government would be more fruitful when manufacturers are committed to achieving its objective.
With more local content inclusion in our factories, we will be able to create more jobs for our people and also reduce the cost of production, which will in turn make made-in-Nigeria- goods more cost effective and globally competitive, he said.
We needed to see for ourselves and verify the claims by BoI of what it has been doing to help move the industrial sector to where we want it to be, because as a development bank it has to identify with needy institutions and also we want to better appreciate the challenges of the industrial sector, he said.
After the tour, the chairman remarked that the committee was impressed with what the beneficiaries were doing with funds received from BoI.
If we had met a different thing, believe me, in front of the camera we would have accused both BoI and the beneficiaries, there is nobody among the committee members that have gone round these factories today that has not been impressed, he remarked.
On the issue of recapitalising BoI, he stated that the recapitalisation of a bank, particularly a bank like BoI, would need legislation, and disclosed that a bill to that effect was already in process. As soon as it comes to fruition, he said, the recapitalisation would be implemented.
Some of the manufacturers used the opportunity of the committees visit to showcase the progress made, which they claimed was made possible with the funds they received from BoI such as the production of better quality products and the export of some products globally.
They also recounted some of the challenges militating against them to include having to power their plants on gas and diesel, high tariffs on imported raw materials, and inability to enjoy the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and other government incentives due to bureaucratic bottlenecks.
The industrialists also suggested that more avenues be sought for the use of the EEG such as for the payment of industrial taxes.
In his response the chairman assured them that the committee has met with some of the regulatory bodies of the industrial sector to resolve some of the lingering challenges in the sector.
On the issue of EEG, he said the committee discovered that some unscrupulous individuals had infiltrated the ranks of genuine industrialists and not until they are flushed out, the regulatory authorities will continue to exercise extreme caution and due diligence in processing of the grants.
He also advised them to turn in their claims on time, as this would help to reduce the time taken to process and facilitate the incentives. He also expressed the concern of the committee for the welfare of workers employed in the nations industries, stressing that they must not be underpaid or their health and safety compromised for the sake of profit-making.
He encouraged manufacturers and industrialists to open up on their challenges, complaints and suggestions, so that the sector can grow; reiterating the committees open door policy, attentiveness and responsiveness to every issue it receives.

International rating agency- Fitch Ratings at the weekend upgraded Access Bank Plc's (Access) long-term issuer default rating (IDR) to 'B' from 'B-'.

The ratings upgrade, according to Fitch, was partly influenced by the commercial bank
s successful acquisition of the then rescued bank Intercontinental Bank.
The international agency also said that the upgrade was as a result of Access Bank's support rating to '4' from '5' and the revision of the bank's support rating floor to 'B' from 'NF'.
Fitch explained further: At the same time, the bank's national long-term rating was upgraded to 'A-(nga)' from 'BBB-(nga)' and its national short-term rating to 'F2(nga)' from 'F3(nga)'. The ratings upgrades reflect Fitch's view of an increased likelihood of support for Access from the Nigerian authorities if needed.
This is driven by Access's perceived increased systemic importance and enhanced franchise following its absorption of the acquired rescued bank, Intercontinental Bank Plc. The combined entity, which was consolidated at end-2011, controls about 8.5 per cent of system assets.
Access Bank Plc - one of Africas largest financial services groups - recently disclosed its intention of becoming the most respected Bank in Africa. 

At the end of its business combination with Intercontinental Bank, the commercial bank
s assets base grew to N2.018 trillion while its customer base rose to 5.7 million.
The banks branch network also increased significantly to a total of 309, just as its Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) rose to 18.55 per cent, far above the industry average of 10 per cent.
Its full year 2011 results had shown gross earnings of N138.949 billion, up from N91.142 billion recorded in 2010. Its profit after tax rose also by 50 per cent per cent from N11.068 billion in 2010 to N16.708 billion in 2011.
Prior to its present position in Nigeria and the African financial landscape, the management of the Bank had sought to transform Access Bank into a world-class financial services provider.
"This was the vision that propelled Access Bank Plc from a low industry ranking in 2002 to its current position of significance in Nigeria and on the African continent, the bank had said.
Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, had also said: It has become necessary for us to revise our vision in line with current realities and aspirations within the context of the global economy. We intend to drive profitable, ethical economic growth that is also environmentally responsible and socially relevant.
The  Federal Government has disclosed plans to enhance the national yield on tubers and cereals by an incremental 600,000 metric tonnes (MT) per annum through the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, disclosed this at the roll-out of seeds and fertilisers for small scale farmers in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Adesina said government, through the scheme, would help farmers raise their income from the average N50,000 per annum to about N116,500; representing a 233 per cent increase.
The design of the scheme apart from encouraging the participation of almost 48 million Nigerians in agriculture also creates directly an additional 174,100 jobs and the fertiliser distribution supply chain at agro-dealer network at wards levels.
Also 3,483 jobs at regional distributor points and sustains an additional 800 to 1,000 jobs at the importation/blending/local production level of the value chain, the minister explained.
He added: This scheme breaks the cycle of inefficient fertiliser support delivery to farmers and ensures that the countrys huge investments in the sub-sector reaches the target beneficiaries and deliver the relevant economic benefits.
The minister said it also leads to increased fertiliser use and thereby results in increased production and improved food security, which he informed that government targeted to hit 50kg/ha by 2015.
Adesina, while highlighting the GES benefits, said it provides a platform to show off a new course of action structured to help Nigerias smallholder farmers, adding that it reduces governments financial outflow requirements.
He also maintained that it builds agricultural capacity, increases extension agents knowledge and their value to their community, and increases farmers awareness of proper fertiliser application.

The ministers assured that
the federal government will give a uniform GES to farmers across the country based on the existing price for a bag of fertiliser at any particular time.
Adesina said his ministry would work with relevant stakeholders, including the organised private sector and farmers associations to ensure maximum availability of fertilisers at every parts of the country.
He informed that the scheme was designed as a vital component of the agricultural transformation agenda, ATA of the Goodluck Jonathan administration and seeks to achieve at the micro level, food security for the farmer and national security at the macro level.

Nigeria is not broke, says Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday assured Nigerians that the country was note broke and that the economy was growing.
Jonathan, who spoke on many national issues, including the security situation, at the Presidential media chat in Abuja, on Sunday, said the defense minister Haliru Bello and the national security adviser Andrew Owoye Azazi were relieved of their jobs, to checkmate the operational tactics of the Boko Haram sect.
The president said the aim of the Boko Haram group was to destabilise the nation and the government and that they had consistently changed tactics.
The groups aim is to destabilise government and they have consistently changed tactics, and for us to bring their activities to an end, we must also change personnel and tactics.
He said government was ready to enter into dialogue with members of the Boko Haram sect if they revealed their identities and came forward and surrendered their arms, adding they have no leader and we cannot dialogue with a faceless group.
On the economy, he said it was being managed by professionals, assuring Nigerians that the economy was on the right track if the country is broke, you wont see most of the investors running over themselves to invest in the country.
The president explained further that the minister of Finance and co-odinating minister for the economy, Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, who was highly respected globally, was on top of her game.
In defence of his trip to Brazil while the nation was under attack by the Boko Haram sect, the president said he had no regrets for his actions. He explained further that the plan of any terrorist is to destabilise and embarrass government, stressing that government must function inspite of any terrorist groups actions.
If the international community get to hear that the president, the vice president or the senate president cannot travel out of Nigeria because of Boko Haram, then the country is finished and they will celebrate it. We wont give them such opportunity by glorifying them.
He vowed that the days of the Boko Haram sect were numbered adding:We will crush them.
An example of the achievements he made on the trip was the case he made for the resuscitation of the drying Lake Chad Basin, he said, explaining that the country needed about 14 billion dollars to address the problem, which it currently did not have. He said he made a case for the issue at the world Sustainable Development Conference in Brazil.
On the oil subsidy probe, he said the Federal Government vacillated on the issue, adding that before the House of Representatives started the probe, he had set up a committee headed by Nuhu Ribadu, who he recalled contested the presidency with him.
If the Presidency or the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC) had anything to hide, they would not have brought him to head the committee: Ribadu means I dont care what the committee comes up with, I wonder why people are leaving substance and chasing shadows.
On the allegation that his body language suggests unwillingness to take on corruption and the people charged with it head- long, the president said there was no truth in the claim and that he had given unfettered latitude to the EFCC and ICPC to function. He also affirmed his confidence in the leadership of the two anti -graft agencies.
President Jonathan said he had refrained from making pronouncements as to whether or not he intended to contest in the 2015 elections, to avoid sending wrong signals and distracting governance.
He also appealed to Nigerians to be patient, assuring that his administration was on course to resolve the problem in the power sector, explaining that the new electricity tariff was aimed at attracting private sector investment, and structured in a way that the poor pay less.
In the course of the chat, the president also said that he had instructed the EFCC to investigate the Nigerian embassy in the US for alleged money

Julius Berger put operations on hold in the North

Julius Berger Nigeria Plc., has disclosed that it has suspended its operations in Northern Nigeria due to the security challenges.
Managing Director of the company, Engineer Wolfing Goetsch, stated this in Abuja at its 42nd Annual General meeting, held at the Shehu Musa Yar Adua Centre.

The Chairman of the company, Nurudeen Imam (Retd.), in his address, said that Julius Berger has experienced no serious security incidents in 2011 but nevertheless, cannot ignore the fact that security issues require the company to remain vigilant and that while the Niger Delta Amnesty programme continues to prove effective, Boko Haram activities are an increasing concern.

According to Imam, the company recorded a gross profit of
  N34 billion in 2011 compared to the N29 billion garnered in the preceding year.

Revenue from construction contracts alone amounted to N17 billion in 2011 as against the N171 billion recorded in 2010, while dividend of N2.40 per ordinary share would
  be paid to shareholders.

He added that the company has diversified its customer base to include clients from the oil and gas sector and
  private individuals.

Shares rattled by delay in market makers operation

Seventy-nine days after the introduction of Market Makers on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), delays in kick-starting market making activities have continued to impact the equities market which is currently searching for liquidity.
The function of a Market Maker is to stand ready to buy and sell particular stocks on a regular and continuous basis, at a publicly quoted price. They make their money in both rising and falling markets by taking advantage of the difference between bid and offer prices.
Sources close to the Market Makers told Business Day that the delayed take-off was because they are currently working with the management of the NSE to put appropriate structures and frameworks in place, prior to active initiation of market making by the appointed dealing firms. Market making is an event to watch out for in the second half of the year.
The ten stockbroking firms selected from a list of 20 that applied to be market makers are Stanbic IBTC, Renaissance Capital, Future View Securities, Vetiva Capital, ESS/DunnLoren Merrifield, WSTC, Capital Bancorp, FBN Securities, Greenwich Securities and CSL Stockbrokers. Their primary obligation would be to always make a two-way price in each of the stocks in which they make markets.
BusinessDay investigations further show that the selected firms are still working with the relevant authorities to resolve the liquidity requirements to kick-start the process.
Though the announcement of market makers is a major step in the direction of turning the market around, after their birth on April 4, 2012, the observed delay in take-off has continued to raise questions at various investment fora. This is because the objective, which is to bring liquidity and depth back into the equities market is being delayed.
Currently, illiquidity in the market has continued to impact stock pricing, leading to under-pricing of most value stocks at the Exchange. This reflects on the trends recorded in various sectoral indices at the Exchange.
While the NSE Consumer goods-10 Index which is designed to provide an investable benchmark to capture the performance of the food, beverage and tobacco sector stood high at 193.31percent year-to-date (ytd); the NSE Insurance -10 Index which provides an investable benchmark to capture the performance of the insurance sector has declined by 14.62 percent.
Also, the NSE Oil & Gas-5 Index which provides an investible benchmark to capture the performance of the oil and gas sector, comprising the top five most capitalised and liquid companies in oil and gas marketing, has fallen by 21.04 percent this year; the NSE-30 Index which tracks the top 30 companies in terms of market capitalisation and liquidity, has risen marginally by 5.42 percent.
The NSE Banking-10 Index which is designed to provide an investable benchmark to capture the performance of the banking sector rose by 10.60 percent.
On the expected impact of market makers, Abiola Rasaq, analyst at Vetiva Capital Management Limited said: In my view, market making is less correlated with returns (either upside or downside). Rather, its primary impact is liquidity enhancement.
The existence of dedicated market makers for all counters on the Exchange will help stimulate activity on relatively illiquid counters and also improve the current liquidity on the more active stocks. Market Makers are expected to have considerable inventory and/or liquidity to intervene in the market for the stocks they have been appointed for, either to clear excess offers (supply) or to provide blocks in the event of excess bids (demand) at their indicative price bands, Rasaq said.
Ibinabo Princewill, analyst at APT Securities and Funds had told Business Day that If everything goes well, the market makers will be able to provide the necessary liquidity to boost market activity.
According to her, As a fallout of this, we anticipate some structural changes in market operations in the near future, to create an enabling environment for the market makers.
Since the announcement of the 10 market makers, the NSE All Share Index (ASI) which tracks the general market movement of all listed securities on the Exchange, including those listed on the Emerging Market board, regardless of capitalization, has gained only 2.2 percent from April 4 when it stood at 20,934points to 21,394.77points last Friday. Year-to-date, ASI has risen by a marginal 3.20 percent.

India offers to light up Nigeria with $100m


India  is offering Nigeria $100million lifeline of an estimated $500 billion that the sector needs  to generate enough electricity. National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Commissioner Eyo Epko says the power sector will need an average of $20 billion per annum to achieve 7,500 MW generation, excluding domestic gas investments. In addition, the country would need $500 billion investment to guarantee constant supply. The country would also require the right calibre of professionals and this is being provided by India.

Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a plant for the manufacture and repair of power transmission equipment, Indian High Commissioner Mahesh Sachdev said: "We have also been engaged in supporting the Nigerian power sector through professional capacity building in India under our ITEC training programme."           

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