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Atlas Mara Denies Getting Offers to Sell Stake in Union Bank

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The major shareholder in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Atlas Mara Limited, has denied media reports that it has received offers to sell off its stake in the first generation bank.

Atlas Mara Denies Getting Offers to Sell Stake in Union Bank

A few days ago, there were reports that Atlas Mara was planning to transfer its 50 per cent holdings to a bank in Nigeria.

In March 2020, there were reports that Zenith Bank, one of the five biggest lenders in the country, was considering a merger with Union Bank, but both financial institutions denied the reports.

When a popular online news platform in Nigeria, Premium Times, claimed Atlas Mara was planning to sell its stake in the old generation bank, many observers flashed back to the 2020 merger reports.

But Atlas Mara, in a statement, said it was not aware of any bank approaching it for the acquisition of its shares in Union Bank.

“Atlas Mara Limited, the sub-Saharan African financial services group, issues the following statement in response to media reports incorrectly stating that Atlas Mara has received offers from local banks wishing to buy over Union Bank.

“While it is the company’s practice to refrain from comment on market rumours or speculation, we believe it is important to note that Atlas Mara has not received any offers from any local Nigerian bank or other bank wishing to acquire the company’s stake in Union Bank of Nigeria.

“As previously announced to the market in 2019, the board of the company has been exploring a wide range of strategic options with the assistance of external advisers; that process is still underway and the company’s strategic objectives have not changed,” the firm said.

Also reacting, Union Bank urged the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), other regulatory agencies and members of the public “to disregard the publication in its entirety” because it is not true.

The local lender said it agreed totally with the response given by Atlas Mara on the subject matter as the reports were “purely based on mere rumours and speculations.”


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FG Directs FIRS to Remit NASENI Statutory Cash to Boost Technology

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The Presidency has directed the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), to remit the statutory deductions accruable to the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).

FG Directs FIRS to Remit NASENI Statutory Cash to Boost Technology

This is part part of steps to boost Science and Technology development in the country.

The agency may soon get one to two per cent of the Federation Account as contained in its establishment law.

The directive followed the upholding of the decision of the Governing Board of NASENI, which is headed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the chairman.

The directive has also been communicated to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs.

In the NASENI Establishment Act 2004, FIRS is statutorily expected to deduct and remit to it a quarter per cent of the levy on turnover of firms earning over N100million and above.

Although NASENI was established in 1992, the law guiding its funding has not been complied with by successive governments.

But in January, President Muhammadu Buhari decided to ensure total compliance with NASENI Act. Buhari has also approved the placement of NASENI directly under the supervision of the Presidency instead of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

According to a letter from the Presidency, signed by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, chief of Staff, the FIRS has been directed to remit the deducted levy on turnover as approved by Buhari.

The letter said: “I write to inform you that on 24th January 2021, Mr. President approved the prayers of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) on the funding of NASENI activities.

“In accordance with the NASENI Establishment Act, one of the prayers of the EVC relates to the funding of the agency via a levy on income or turnover of commercial companies and firms with turnover of N4million (later increased to N100million) by the NASENI Governing Board) at the rate of a quarter per cent( 1/4 %) of turnover.

“Accordingly, you are kindly requested to act on the implementation of this provision of the NASENI Act as soon as possible.”

It was learnt that the presidential directive was informed by seven key projects (inventions) being under-taking by NASENI with funding as a major hindrance.

One of the key projects is a Made-In-Nigeria helicopter which Buhari has mandated NASENI to produce.

Others are as follows establishment of First Made-In- Nigeria Transformer Plant and High Voltage Testing Laboratory to be located in Okene, Kogi State; first Made-In-Nigeria Plant for the manufacturing of Silica which is the major materials needed for local manufacturing of solar panels to resolve alternative/Renewable Energy supply for the nation; and funding of the plant for First Made-In-Nigeria Smart Prepaid Energy Meter (SPEM), which is already patented, before transferring them to private sector entrepreneurs as stipulated by its mandate.

Also included are establishment of Zonal (Six geo-political Zones) Agricultural Machinery & Equipment Development Institutes which had already been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari; completion of work on First Made-in-Nigeria E-Voting solutions designed and produced by Nigerian Engineers in NASENI; and completion of work on Reverse Engineering process of 5 Kilowatt small Hydro Kinetic Turbine.

A document, which explained how the decision to implement NASENI Act was taken by the President, read: “The President is the chairman of the Governing Board of NASENI. But the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, in his memo to the Governing Board on December 30, 2020, requested the implementations of the Statutory funding of the agency as provided for in NASENI Act to finance its projects and activities.

“While reflecting on the state of Nigeria’s response so far on the COVID-19 pandemic during a virtual meeting at the Presidential Villa on January 26th, 2021, the President observed that Nigeria’s continued reliance on solutions from other countries was a revelation of the research and development gap in the nation.

“He, in addition, therefore directed NASENI to scale up its responses to the pandemic in order to find appropriate solutions to prevent the further spread and treatment of the virus.

“Sitting as the Chair of the Board, the President stressed that for NASENI to succeed, it must be empowered through adequate provision of financial, human and material resources and allowed to exercise independence to forge partnerships.


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NSE’s Demutualisation will Strengthen Investor Confidence – Nami

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Alhaji Muhammad Nami, Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has said the demutualisation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) will promote access to diverse investment opportunities and strengthen investors’ confidence in the capital market.

Nami stated this when he performed the NSE digital Closing Gong Ceremony at the exchange last Friday, disclosing that the FIRS had been following the activities and developments at the exchange which bear mutual benefits to both institutions.

“The FIRS has been keenly following the activities and the developments at the exchange which bear mutual benefits to both institutions.

“Noteworthy is the demutualisation of the NSE which will undoubtedly promote access to diverse investment opportunities and strengthen investors’ confidence in the capital market,” he said.

Nami, stressed that there was clear evidence that the policies being put in place by the management of the NSE are yielding positive results given the impressive performance of the equities market in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic and harsh social and economic conditions.

“I assure you that the FIRS will continue to support the positive initiatives of the NSE to improve its operations, achieve its goals and deliver on its mandate,” he said.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, NSE, Mr. Oscar Onyema, commended the FIRS for its internal revenue assessment and collection efforts for the benefit of the economy despite the challenging times.

“I am delighted to welcome the Executive Chairman, FIRS, Alhaji Muhammad Mamman Nami to this digital closing gong ceremony. The FIRS is saddled with the very important task of assessing, collecting and accounting for tax and other revenues accruing to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

I must, therefore, commend the FIRS for its internal revenue assessment and collection efforts for the benefit of our economy, even in these challenging times. As responsible corporate citizens, we at the NSE are proud to be associated with the FIRS and will continue to strengthen our relationship even as we look ahead to our post-demutualisation phase,” Onyema said.

According to him, the exchange has remained resolute in its commitment to provide a platform for stakeholders to engage with the capital market community. He said since the activation of its business continuity plan in March 2020 which led to remote trading and working from home, the exchange has transitioned many of its events to digital formats – including the closing gong ceremony- and continues to maintain seamless operations almost a year later.


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CBN Pumps in $10.3Bn to Defend Naira in 6 Months

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) defended the naira in six months with $10.3 billion intervention in the inter-bank foreign exchange market, its half-year report has shown.

CBN Pumps in $10.3Bn to Defend Naira in 6 Months

The naira dipped to N429.75/$1 on the Investors’ & Exporters’ window at last week’s trading sessions, depreciation from around $410/$1 it exchanged previously.

Although the local currency has remained stable at the official CBN rate of N379/$1, it exchange at N482/$1 at the parallel market on Friday.

The local currency’s depreciation at I&E window has howler continued to narrow rate gaps.

According to the report signed by Kingsley Obiora, CBN deputy governor, Economic Policy, the apex bank’s intervention in the inter-bank foreign exchange market was to cushion demand pressures and ensure exchange rate stability.

The Financial Markets Half-year Activity Report is a presentation of activities undertaken by the Department to implement the bank’s monetary policy measures.

It details the span of activities in the money, fixed income and foreign exchange markets to support the policies of the apex bank.

In the first half of last year, the CBN said the dollar sales breakdown comprised $5.05 billion sold at the Investors’ & Exporters window; $1.19 billion  at the inter-bank spot; $570 million for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); $312 million for invisibles, while forwards sales were $3.17 billion.

The CBN purchased a total of $2.2 billion, which resulted in a net sale of $8.09 billion. The sum of $5.42 billion  matured at the forwards segment, while $2.5 billion was outstanding.

In comparison with the first half of 2019, a total of $8.47 billion was sold at the foreign exchange market.

This comprised $2.16 billion at the inter-bank spot, $810.00 million for SMEs, $550.70 million for invisibles, $294.59 million at the I & E window, while forwards sales were $4.65 billion.

The CBN purchased $9.55 billion, which resulted in a net sale of $1.08 billion.

According to the report, $4.97 billion matured at the forwards segment, while $2.55 billion was outstanding at end-June 2019.

Obiora said the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to undermine economic and social activities across the world, with many countries recording negative output growth.

He said Nigeria has not escaped some of the negative consequences of the COVID-19.

He said despite headwinds, the economy performed better than expected in the first quarter of the year.

Although downside risks abound, his  outlook for the economy was more optimistic than most analysts seem to portray.

“I believe that in the middle of this pandemic, lies great opportunities to support growth, and there cannot be a better time to make a big push, particularly given our wide negative output gap and rising inflation,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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