Tuesday, 26 June 2012

SECs boss pledges sustained parley with stakeholders

AS part of measures to stabilise the Nigerian capital market, the acting Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ibrahim Bolaji Bello, has pledged to meet on a regular basis with stakeholders in the sector.
According to Bello, regular parley with stakeholders form part of his mandate, adding that his immediate priority is to stabilise the market.
Speaking in Lagos during his maiden meeting with the major operators in the market, Bello said his mandate from the Federal Government is to stabilise the market and put it back on the path of growth.
He also used the opportunity to appeal to stakeholders for support, adding that his intention is to implement his mandate in collaboration with stakeholders.
The SEC boss was quoted in a press statement as saying that other measures to stabilise the market include immediate restoration of Registration Meetings, where new operators (individuals and firms) would be registered to operate in the market, as well as immediate inspection of existing firms to ensure that they comply with laid down rules and regulation in the market.
The statement  said: Both tools of regulation (registration and inspection), have been suspended for over one year and they are tools to ensure that only fit and proper operators operate in the market.
Besides, Bello  said  the commission  would immediately embark on investors education to ensure that investors know their right and adopt better ways of investing in the market to further protect their investment, pointing out  that a well educated investor is a well protected investor. 
Our quick win strategies would include those strategies that would restore investor confidence in the market as well as bring more investors. So, for the first time, we will do registration meeting in Lagos next week. This is the first time the registration meeting is taken outside of Abuja to Lagos. This is to cater for the operators in Lagos and its environs in the south, while others in Abuja and the North will have theirs in Abuja in following week.
This will also reduce cost for the operators, many of which have been recording declining income in recent times. However, there is also opportunity for special registration window, especially for operators that would want it outside the normal time we intend to have it, but such operators would have to come to Abuja.
We shall also embark on inspection of dealing houses to ensure that they comply with laid down rules and regulation in their operations, said Bello.
Apart from the management of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) led by its Chief Executive, Oscar Onyeama, others that met with Bello at the weekend in Lagos, included the executive of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) led by its President, Murtala Ariyo Olusekun, leaders of the Association of Stockbroking Houses Owners of Nigeria (ASHON) led by its President, Emeka Madubuike and the leaders of the National Association of the Securities Dealers (NASD) led by its Chairman, Olutola Mobolurin, who is also a former president of CIS.
Others included Henry Olayemi, Mike Itegbogie, Dipo Aina and Dipo Williams who have also presided over the CIS in the past as well as the Registrar and Chief Executive of CIS, Mr. Oluwatoyin Olorunleke and the first Deputy President of CIS, Emmanuel Ohanwusi.
Also, the various trade groups in the market met with the acting SEC DG in another separate meeting, where Bello re-affirmed his mandate and appealed for their support. The groups included registrars and Institute of Capital Market Registrars led by its President, Bayo Olugbemi, Portfolio Managers, Trustees and Investment Advisers among others.
Bello explained that the commission  is considering various issues surrounding Private placement with  a view of restoring investor confidence in the entire capital market.
We shall ensure that no one is cheated in the course of participating in the market. And the fact that people will know there is an umpire to run to in case of dispute in the market will attract more investor and build confidence in the market he added.
Other leaders of the groups at the meeting included Albert Okumagba of BGL, Yewande Sadiku of StanbicIBTC, Mrs. Funmi Sanni of UBA Trustees, Victor Ogiowenyi of Partnership Investment, Mrs. Hajara Adeola of Jaiz Bank and Bolaji Balogun of ChapelHill, among others.

Lagos sues businessman over fraud

FOR allegedly embarking on a fraudulent property transaction, the government of Lagos State has filed a criminal charge against the Chairman of Cross Country Transport Limited, Mr. Bube Okorodudu.
The alleged fraudulent transaction with reference number LCD/91/2012 is estimated at about N595 million and is before Justice Candido Johnson of the Lagos High Court in Igbosere.
The charge was signed on behalf of the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye by the States Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Olabisi Ogungbesan.
Okorodudu was said to have defrauded the Chief Executive Officer of Tetrazini Food Limited, Mr. Donatus Okonkwo.
Okorodudu, who is also the chief executive officer of Car Link Limited was said to have claimed that a property in Lekki area of Lagos, which he sold to Okonkwo for N595 million was free of all encumbrances. The property situates on Plot A14, Lekki-Pennisula Phase 1, Lagos.
It was, however, discovered that Okorodudus claim was incorrect.
Count one accused Okorodudu of obtaining money by false pretence contrary to Section 419 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C17, Laws of Lagos State, 2003.
In the second count, he was accused of stealing contrary to Section 390 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C17, Laws of Lagos State, 2003.
The count reads: David Bube Okorodudu, sometimes in April 2008, at Victoria Island, Lagos in the Lagos Judicial Division, did obtain the sum of N595 million as full purchase price of his property situates at Plot A14, Lekki-Pennisula Phase 1, from one Prince Donatus Okonkwo by fraudulently misrepresenting to the purchaser that he had paid to the Lagos State Government the full price and obtained deed of occupancy, knowing full well that such representation was false.
When the case came up, Justice Candido Johnson threatened to issue a bench warrant against Okorodudu should he fail to appear in court.
But Okorodudus counsel, Ladi Williams said that his client had not been served with the copy of the charge as required by law.
Williams said that he had already briefed Okorodudu through phone about the existence of the charge, and that his client was not in the country and promised to produce Okorodudu in court at the next adjourned date.
Williams further said that he had filed an application to quash the charge on the ground that the court lacked the jurisdiction to look at the charge.
The prosecuting counsel, R. O Aroyeun said that he had earlier planned to ask for bench warrant against Okorodudu in accordance with Section 258 of Administration of Criminal Justice Law in Lagos State, because the accused had actually been served with the charge.
He also said that it was too early for the accused to file a motion to quash the charge because Section 260 (2) of Administration of Criminal Justice Law in Lagos State does not allow such objection to be raised at the current state of the matter.
The matter has, however, been adjourned to July 3, 2012 for arraignment.

Analysts predict higher midpoint for naira, highlighting policy limitation

The Central Bank of Nigerias (CBN) attempts at maintaining exchange rate stability may be futile, in the context of a more interconnected global economy and structural issues inherent with the Nigerian economy.
Analysts say it highlights the limits of monetary policy, due to a number of factors including the Euro debt crises, lower oil prices and loose fiscal policy.
The Naira (NGN) has weakened in recent times, and traded outside the N155 per US dollar +/ - 3 percent band last week on the interbank market.
FBN capital analysts said they expect the CBN to adjust the midpoint of the exchange rate band upwards to N160 per US dollar +/-3 percent in the second half of 2012.
Our forecast since the aggressive monetary policy rate hike of October 2011 has been that the CBN will accept another adjustment of the mid-point for the naira in the second half of 2012, probably to N160 +/-3 percent, and that the interbank rate will close the year at N163.
FBN capital analysts add that all bets are off if oil prices continue to slide, and that ultimately the CBN has no alternative to a substantial de facto devaluation.
The CBN has spent considerable resources (dollar reserves), in its fight to keep the Naira stable within the old band.
While Nigerias foreign currency reserves are up some 13 percent year to date to $37.1 billion, according to data from the CBN. The reserves have plunged by 41 percent or almost $26 billion from the all time highs of over $60 billion reached in August 2008.
The CBN has also jacked up interest rates to 12 percent, (some say at the detriment of the local economy and stock market) in a bid to support the currency.
Perhaps the most relevant risk to the USD/NGN outlook is further deterioration in local confidence in the NGN, primarily on the back of negative external developments, Samir Gadio, emerging markets strategist at Standard Bank London, said in a recent Naira update.
External developments have since turned more decidedly negative.
On the supply side, the foreign capital inflows that led the NGN to appreciate and stabilise in February -April have dried up in recent weeks, amid uncertainties surrounding the future of the Euro zone and similar pressure on emerging and frontier market assets.
Oil prices are also down 27 per cent, from the March high of $126 a barrel, with Brent crude falling briefly below $90 a barrel yesterday, on concerns about faltering global growth.
Nigeria earns roughly 90 percent of its dollar earnings (crucial for NGN support) from crude oil sales.
The buildup of all these is leading to a weaker Naira. The naira traded as low as N162.40 to the dollar on the interbank market last week.
The weaker naira also adds to concerns about imported inflation, as most Nigerian companies import the raw materials needed for production, which a weaker naira makes more expensive.
For instance Nigerian flour millers including, Flour mills of Nigeria and Honeywell Flour Mills, imported 3.35 million tons of wheat from the United States, in 2011.
Nigerias wheat import is expected to rise to 4.5 million tons this year, according to James Ogunyemi, quality control manager at Flour Mills of Nigeria.
The rise in core inflation may provide some early evidence of the impact of FX weakness on prices, said Razia Khan, regional Head of Research, Africa, at Standard Chartered Bank.
Nigerias Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May printed at 12.7 percent year on year(y/y), not far off from the consensus expectation of 12.8 percent y/y.
The all-items-less-farm-produce measure, a proxy for core inflation(i.e. the CPI excluding the more volatile categories of food and energy prices), however rose 1.1 percent month -on-month (m/m) to reach almost 15 percent in y/y terms.
The limit of monetary policy is evident in the Naira (which is susceptible to external factors outside the CBNs control) becoming the de facto monetary policy anchor.
Given the absence of a more meaningful transmission mechanism, Nigerias ability to keep inflation in check will depend as ever on FX stability, Khan said.

Economic growth at risk as lending and savings rates widen

The gap between lending to the real sector and rates on deposits is getting wider, figures from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) document seen by Business Day have shown.
While lending rate has inched up of late, to 28 percent officially, as against 26, (unofficial rate is between 29 and 30 percent), rates on savings have remained at 3.5 percent.
Analysts said last night, that the development is a threat to the growth of the economy.
According to the CBN document, agriculture, manufacturing and oil & gas, among other sectors are the hardest hit.
Also, the rates which showed an average of 1.775 and 14 percent by deposit money banks (DMBs) on Time Deposit, which is the preference of the lower and middle classes, is capable of jeopardising the current cash-less policy, and is as well a negation of the spirit of the financial inclusion policy of the CBN.
Analysts have called on regulatory authorities to tackle current uncertainties in the foreign exchange market, rising inflation, and the need to make the credit bureaus active, so as to make the credit history of borrowers available, if the much needed development was to be achieved.
Samir Gadio, emerging markets strategist at Standard Bank, London said, This is certainly a major constraint on sustainable economic development, not only in Nigeria, but in most African countries.
The banks typically seek to maximise the significant spread between low savings and deposit rates and elevated lending rates.
In many cases (including Nigeria), the differential between deposit/savings rates and fixed income yields is such that there is limited incentive to lend to the real economy.
However, even if the CBN were to cut policy rates to record low levels (as in 2009-early 2010), there is no guarantee that the banks would lend to non-Tier I names at qualitatively more affordable rates.
Clearly, there are structural distortions that perpetuate this large spread: High inflation/market rates and the uncertain macro-economic outlook weigh negatively on lending rates.
Absence of viable corporate bond market, implying that most companies continue to rely on bank financing and the risk profile of borrowers, and long-term infrastructure projects, reducing the incentive for the banking system to diversify the loan book away from Tier I names and the government.
The CBNs current rate as at June 15, showed that while Unity Bank charges 28 percent lending rate to agriculture, mining, oil & gas and manufacturing, First Bank charges 27.25 percent on the same sectors of the economy.
Access Bank has an average interest rate on Time Deposit of 1.75 and 14 percent, while Zenith charges an average of 3.00 to 9.5 percent.
The Financial Market Dealers Association (FMDA) said for the week beginning June 25, Skyebank charges the highest of 15 percent deposit rate for 360 days, while UBA goes for the lowest of between 2.75 to 6.00 percent.
Unless urgent steps are taken by government to halt the ugly trend, economic activities in the country may soon grind to a halt, and that will mean further widening the gap between the upper and lower classes, Ameh Friday, an energy analyst said.
Speaking further, Gadio said the higher prime lending rate and its continued existence is not sustainable in the long-run as non-Tier 1 names are starving for credit. Of course, hypothetical interest rate cuts would not have a significant impact on the economy, given the weakness of the monetary transmission mechanism and the influence of exogenous factors on growth.
Bismark Rewane, managing director, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, recently said that he sees CBN trading off between managing inflation and encouraging investment through credit flows to the real sector, adding that the bank is currently pursuing price stability.
Consequently, the CBN, he said, may become accommodative in its policy to help boost lending to productive sector, or likely remain neutral in the near term.

Japaul Oil gains most this Year

Japaul Oil & Maritime Services Plc (JAPAULOI), a Nigerian oil-services company, gained the most this year after rising by the daily limit.
The stock rallied a second day, advancing 5 percent to 0.63 naira at the close in Lagos, the commercial capital, the most since Dec. 23.
"Investors believe it has bottomed out, so they expect it to rise," Raheem Mohammed of Kundila Finance, a Lagos-based brokerage, said by phone today.
"The company is making profit so we expect it to climb up to about 80 kobo (0.80 naira) from where it fell," he said.
Japaul closed at a 52-week high of 1.18 naira on June 28, 2011 and a low of
0.53 naira on April 25, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Full-year net income for 2011 increased to 980.44 million naira ($6
million) from 792.7 million naira, according to figures published in an e-mailed copy of its annual report for last year. Revenue rose to 10.25 billion naira from 7.133 billion naira, according to the report.
Chika Amanze-Nwachuku
The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has accused the federal government of colluding with multinational oil companies to commit irreparable environmental and human rights violations in Nigeria.

MOSOP President and Spokesman, Mr. Goodluck Diigbo, made the declaration while reacting to the recent filing by the Harvard Law School
s International Human Rights Clinic of an amicus curiae brief with United States Supreme Court in the case filed by families of Ogoni indigenes allegedly murdered for protesting Shells activities in the area.

Amicus curiae is a brief filed with the court by someone who is not a party to the case.

The case, Kiobel vs Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., was filed under the Alien Tort Statute, a section of the US statute notable for allowing American courts to hear human rights cases brought by foreign citizens for conduct outside the US
The MOSOP chief noted that any measure of justice offered by the US Supreme Court would conserve the spirit of the American revolution, even though it can never bring back life or repair the eternal damage that the Ogoni have suffered.
I salute these Harvard lawyers of conscience as the pride of American self-government, Diigbo said.

The MOSOP General Assembly recently vowed to apply what it described as
justifiable stiffer resistance, against attempts by the federal government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) or any oil company to resume oil production in Ogoniland.

It said the resistance package would include the
use of tactics to protect Ogonis, their families and property against physical attack.
The tactics, the group added, were part of the indigenous Ogoni customary and traditional law, designed to prevent the desecration of ancestral lands and sacred sites.

MOSOP took the stand following government
s declaration that oil production on abandoned Shells 30 oil wells in Ogoniland would commence, notwithstanding a damning United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report that indicted Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) for causing serious environmental contamination and threat to human lives in Ogoniland that would take 30 years to clean up.

MOSOP said government was insensitive to the plight of the Ogoni people and does not see the tragedy in their land as an issue that required any attention.

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, told THISDAY last month that an interim report of a special review committee on the UNEP report had been submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan for further action.

She said the report would be further evaluated with a view to ascertaining areas to be adopted. The committee was set up by the president in August last year to undertake a holistic review of the report, which indicted SPDC for decades of oil pollution in the surface water all over the creeks of Ogoniland and make recommendations to the federal government on immediate and long-term remedial actions.

Nigerias crude oil export to the United States of America, which was over one million barrels per day (bpd) in December 2009, has declined to 352,000bpd, representing a loss of about 70 per cent of its oil exports to the country.

Citing recent data from the United States Energy Department, the Global Water and Energy Strategy Team (GWEST), a Washington-based consulting firm said in its latest report that Nigeria was the third-largest supplier of crude oil to the United States in 2010, with the US accounting for 43 per cent of Nigeria
s exports.

GWEST, which specialises in the geo-politics of strategic resources, noted that Nigeria was closely behind Canada and Mexico in oil export to the United States.

The report indicated that in September 2011, Nigeria
s crude exports to the United States dropped to 580,000bpd, with the country assuming the sixth position, after Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela and Russia.

s crude export to the United States further dwindled to 352,000bpd by February 2012, signalling a decline in trade between the two countries that dates back to 1961, when Texaco Overseas began operations in Nigeria.

President of GWEST, Mr. Paul Michael Wihbey, said the loss of the United States market had forced Nigeria to ship crude oil twice the distance to Asian markets.

Though refiners in Asia are increasing crude oil imports, investigation revealed that the distance from the Shell
s Bonny Export terminal in Rivers State, for instance, to Tianjin, China, is 12,172 miles, compared to 5,847 miles to the New York Harbour in the United States.

Speaking at a recent event organised in Lagos by the Emerald Institute for Energy Economics, Policy and Strategic Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Wihbey said Nigerian crude might need to be priced at a discount to go to new markets in Asia.

He attributed Nigeria
s dwindling exports to the United States to increased production in the United States.

For instance, owing to increased drilling in North Dakota's Bakken and Texas' Eagle Ford, crude production in the United States rose to 6.24 million barrels a day in May 2012, the highest level since 1999, according to government data.

Refiners that use Nigerian crude oil are also closing plants on the United States
east coast, the main destination for Nigerian exports, amid falling returns on investment.

Recent reports indicated that Sunoco stopped production at the 194,000bpd Marcus Hook plant in Pennsylvania on December 2011.
The company also said it would decide by July, 2012 whether to halt production at its 355,000bpd Philadelphia plant.
ConocoPhillips stopped its 190,000bpd Trainer, plant site on September 30, 2011 and the two facilities together accounted for half of east coast crude oil processing capacity.

In order for its customers to benefit more from its recent production expansion, the management of Dangote Cement plc has liberalised its distribution channels and expanded its sales network.

The cement manufacturers had embarked on an expansion drive, which has seen it add more lines to its existing cement plants across the country with the attendant expectation that it would lead to reduction in the price of the commodity.
The management of Dangote Cement last week stressed that it was reviewing its distribution network to ensure the availability of the product by creating wider access for its customers.
This, it said, would also ensure not only the stability of price, but also guaranteeing availability at the most reasonable price.
Group Managing Director of the company, Devakumar Edwin, said in Lagos that the company at the height of skyrocketing price of cement had acquired 5000 trucks to boost its logistics and pave the way for even distribution of the product across the nation.
According to him, having solved the problem of logistics, the next phase is to ensure a wider distribution depot and register more dealers and bring the product closer to the customers.
He stated: With Obajanas 10. 25mtpa, and its fourth line under construction, the companys production capacity will be far above the nations demand.
It would be recalled that the companys Benue plant of 3.5mtpa is producing to capacity. When added to the 6 mtpa Ibese plant production, the company will have a total production capacity of 19.75mtpa.
What we are doing now is to liberalise the distribution network by increasing our depots and registering more credible distributors. All we required is the certificate of company registration, two passport photographs and letter of intent.
Henceforth, we are guaranteeing 48 hours registration with a minimum purchase of one trailer load that is 600 bags monthly. In fact no deposit is required. And customers can collect from any of our plants, Edwin stated.
According to him, individuals, corporate organisations and institutional buyers seeking to buy Dangote cement in bulk could just walk into any of the companys depots or offices nationwide.

He added that the company has begun a media campaign aimed at sensitizing the people to this development.
On the long run we hope that this effort will not only make cement available in every nooks and cranny of Nigeria but will reduce the price and make the price stable.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has expressed dissatisfaction with metering plans of most of the Power Holding Company of Nigerias (PHCNs) successor distribution companies (Discos) submitted to it for review and approval.
Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, said in Abuja that although, the commission had taken delivery of metering plans of the discos within the specified two-week duration in the Multi-Year Tariff Order-2 (MYTO-2), it will review the plans to establish detailed arrangements within the proposals.
Amadi, who disclosed that the commission had evolved procedures to homogenise meter connection fees across distribution companies in the electricity supply chain, was however silent on the discos, which plans were without specifics.
We can report that we have received the metering plans of most distribution companies within the two weeks set in the MYTO. We are reviewing the plans. So far, we are not satisfied with the specifics of the plan, he said.
He explained further: Our desire is to have metering plans which will be clear on the cost of meters, the number of meters to be deployed monthly and the location of deployment so that the civil society stakeholder group to be set up soon can monitor with the plans.
Amadi also stated that NERC had completed work on the methodology for estimated billing, which will be based on submission from the distribution companies.
The NERC boss said he would meet with chief executive officers (CEOs) of distribution companies to resolve outstanding issues on the metering plans as well as methodology for estimated billing.
We will thereafter invite civil society groups, consumer networks and the public to a hearing on the metering plan, methodology for estimated billing and the requirement of disclosures on electricity management under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, Amadi added.
He however disclosed that the methodology for standardising connection fees had been completed, adding that he would meet with the CEOs of the Discos to agree on the connection fees for every distribution company.
He clarified: It is important to note that only new customers will be charged connection fees. It is not the cost of meter. The cost for meter is already part of the tariff, but the cost for connecting new customers is not in the tariff.

Third Mainland Bridge shut-down will be partial not full Fashola

The Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, made an important disclosure concerning the shutdown of the third mainland bridge yesterday. He said the closure of the bridge would be partial and not in full as previous information had suggested.
He also said the closure was to allow repair work to be carried out on the expansion joints.
The Federal Government contractors handling the road had advertised via signboards that the bridge would be closed from July 1st November 6th.
According to Fashola, Contrary to what has been reported, it is not a complete closure but a partial one. While the work is on, diversion will take place depending on the section of the road that will be worked upon at the particular point by the contractor. While we commend the initiative of the Federal Government to embark on the repair, there is no need for any fear because we have done it before and at the time we did it, we all went through it. And today, we are better than where we were then.
The governor also stated that the time selected for the closure was deliberately selected in order to ensure it fell at the end of the school session when children were on vacation.
He said, ““The date was an agreement between the Federal and State governments that the period should be almost at the end of the school session and during childrens vacation period so that the congestion on the road will be minimal. However, much of the work will be done when the pupils are on vacation. The target is that before the end of the year when the traffic is much, the repair works would have been completed. It is actually in the interest of the people.
The governor advised motorists to as much as possible use the alternative routes which he said were completed, although he did not disclose where the alternative routes are located
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