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Helios Activates Exit Strategy, Sells Stake in Interswitch

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Helios Investment Partners, the Africa-focused private investment firm managing funds worth up to $3 billion, has sold a minority stake in Interswitch to TA Associates, global growth private equity firm with headquarters in Boston, USA.

Announcing the deal on its website, 2017, TA Associates (the acquirer) said that the deal will not affect Helios’ majority shareholding in the integrated digital payments and Commerce Company. The acquirer did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction.

This deal came at a time when many had expressed the fear that Nigeria’s currency travails may have hindered private equity investment in Africa’s second largest oil producer. Multiple currency environment and ‘command and control’ approach by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to bolster the country’s currency, the naira, has made it difficult for investors to realise their investments, pushing the country out of the list of investment destinations.

“By strategically partnering and aligning its interests with key banks, merchants and other institutions, Interswitch has become a leading provider for payments solutions in an emerging and rapidly growing market in Nigeria,” said Naveen Wadhera, a Managing Director at TA Associates in the statement announcing the deal.

“Interswitch is a unique, high quality and strategic asset located in one of Africa’s leading economies. We are delighted to expand upon our longstanding presence within the global payments industry through our partnership with the management team and Helios, and look forward to helping Interswitch continue to expand its business.”

Wadhera and Ajit Nedungadi, Managing Partner at TA Associates will represent the acquirers in the Interswitch Board of Directors.

McKinsey & Company had reported that the digital payments evolution is in the early stages of development in Nigeria as the people use cash for up to 99 per cent of transactions compared to 50% for developed markets in North America and Europe.

Interswitch occupies a leading position in the emerging marketplace, especially in debit cards that comprise 99 per cent of all cards in the country.

McKinsey said in its ‘Digital Finance for All: Powering Inclusive Growth in Emerging Economies’, that digital payments couldhave a huge impact on Nigeria’s gross domestic output (GDP).

“Lower-income countries such as Ethiopia, India, and Nigeria have the largest potential, given their low levels of financial inclusion and digital payments today,” McKinsey said.

The sale gives Helios a partial exit from its investment in the digital finance company, which it first made in 2011. Speculation had been rife in the beginning of 2016 that Interswitch would be floated in a dual listing on the London and Lagos bourses. It is presently valued at over $1 billion. This plan may yet be put on hold as the deal signifies that Interswitch owners would rather keep the company private in the interim.

Interswitch was founded in 2002, enjoying significant market share in Nigeria presently. It owns and operates Verve, the country’s principal domestic credit card scheme. It also serves as a third-party transaction processor for many of Nigeria’s biggest lenders.

Many public and private sector institutions use Interswitch’s business-to-business (B2B) electronic payment services as well as Quickteller, the company’s business-to-consumer (B2C) bill payments and digital commerce platform.

“For TA Associates to have made Interswitch their first investment in Africa we believe is a testament to Interswitch’s successful growth trajectory to date, and the quality and resilience of its brand and business model. We are confident that TA’s domain expertise and global reach will benefit Interswitch as we move forward together in partnership,” said Babatunde Soyoye, Helios’s co-founder and Managing Partner.


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E-Financial

FG Sacked IST Members over Fraud- Ahmed

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Mrs Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, has said the Federal Government sacked some past members of the Investments and Securities Tribunal (IST) as they indulged in corruption.

FG Sacked IST Members over Fraud- Ahmed

Inaugurating the new members, the minister charged the new members to eschew corruption and be forthright.

Bar. Azi Amos Isaac was appointed as Chairman for a five year term and Bar. Nosa Smart Osemwengie, was re-appointed as member for a second term of four years.

“The problem with the tribunal has been infighting amongst members, lack of industrial harmony and series of complaints bordering on maladministration.

“This has been the bane of the tribunal and a source of embarrassment not only for the Ministry of Finance but for the government in general,” Ahmed said.

The new chairman, Azi, assured the finance minister that, “the teething issue of restiveness has been addressed since he assumed duty,” adding that, “The place is calm and the staff have become very supportive.”

Azi said since 2003, the tribunal has “given judgment in the value of assets worth over N844 billion and that from 2017 to date, they have given decisions in monetary value totalling over N28bn.

“It has not failed in its adjudicatory responsibility.

“It has carried out its assignment with candour and integrity and intends to improve on what has been on ground.”

 


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CBN Bans Customer-to-Customer Forex Transfer

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has banned transfer of foreign exchange (forex) from one customer to another.

CBN Bans Customer-to-Customer Forex Transfer

According to the apex bank, forex cash lodgements into domiciliary accounts can only be done by the account owners henceforth.

An internal memo available in the media space explains that the new guidelines are necessary to review the utilisation of inflows into customers domiciliary accounts.

The circular states: “Forex inflows cannot be credited to customers until the legitimacy of funds is established.

“They can have unfettered access by telegraphic transfers up to a limit of $40,000 monthly for payment of medical bills, school fees, subscription to professional bodies subject to existing CBN guidelines.

“Transfers from one customer to another is prohibited. Transfer within related companies is allowed subject to a limit of $50,000 per month.”

It recommended that proceeds from non-oil exports should be sold to banks, used for repayment of dollar term loans, and self-utilisation for trade transactions for LC, bills and Form A.

Also oil export proceeds from E&P companies are to be used to pay contractors and service providers employed by the oil companies in addition to the recommended uses for non-oil FX proceeds.

Offshore forex inflows from other Nigerian banks and internal account to forex transfers sourced from offshore inflows are to be used for trade transactions subject to eligibility for E-Form M.

“Upon confirmation of the legitimacy of the inflows, customers can have unfettered access, subject to a maximum of $50,000,” the document read.

“Utilisation for trade transactions subject to processing of eligible trade transactions using E-Form M. Payment for services must be backed with demand note from offshore beneficiary and other regulatory documents.

“Related party transfers are allowed to the maximum of the inflow received. The transfer request should be backed by a signed instruction from the account holder.” Payment of government fees and levies are also allowed to the maritime, oil and gas, aviation. government parastatals and export processing zones.

 


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Stanbic IBTC, Standard Bank, Listed Among Top African Corporate Brands

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Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and its parent company, Standard Bank, have emerged amongst the top winners of the 2020 Tech Times’ Africa LinkedIn Corporate Brand Awards.

The Stanbic IBTC Group emerged the second position in the category, with total votes of 3,515, out of 24 firms nominated for the award. Standard Bank placed the fourth 2,494 votes.

Nominations for this award opened to the public on July 1, 2020 and closed on July 14.

Shortlisted nominees were announced on August 24 while voting commenced immediately and voting ended on September 8, 2020.

The Corporate Brand Awards was instituted by Tech Times’ Africa, an online platform for leading technology, innovation, and startup stories.

Expressing his delight on the awards, Dr Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, said that both Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and Standard Bank had been deliberate and consistent in making a remarkable impact in Africa’s financial sector.

“Our sincere appreciation goes to the organisers of the Africa Corporate Brands Awards and to every member of the public who voted. This is a reflection of the high level of trust and confidence that the public has reposed on us,” he added.

Dr Sogunle further said that Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC would remain relentless in portraying the organisation as one of the most influential corporate brands in Africa.

He stated: “Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and Standard Bank have relentlessly contributed to driving the growth and development of the African financial ecosystem. These awards affirm our efforts, and we are encouraged to raise the bar continually.”

The Africa Corporate Brand Award is designed to identify and recognise outstanding companies. It also projects their achievements and impacts on African society and the world at large.


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