Femi Otedola Set To Sell Forte Oil

Femi Otedola, Nigerian billionaire businessman, will be selling his 75 per cent direct and indirect shareholdings in Forte Oil.

This revelation was made In a statement the Nigerian Stock Exchange, published on it website.

Mr. Akinleye Olagbende, the counsel general of the company made the signed statement available to reporters.

The statement entitled ‘notification of divestment by the majority shareholder in the downstream business operations,’ reads, “Forte Oil Plc hereby notifies the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Securities and Exchange Commission, Shareholders and the investing community that its Majority Shareholder, Mr. Femi Otedola, CON has reached an agreement with the Prudent Energy team, investing through Ignite Investments and Commodities Limited, to divest of his full 75% direct and indirect shareholding in the Company’s downstream business.

“Mr. Otedola’s divestment from the downstream business is pursuant to his decision to explore and maximise business opportunities in refining and petrochemicals.

“The transaction is expected to close in the First Quarter (Q l ) of 2019 subject to the satisfaction of various conditions and receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.

“Standard Chartered Bank, Corporate Finance & Advisory, Dubai and Olaniwun Ajayi LP served as Financial and Legal advisors respectively to Mr. Femi Otedola, CON, while PricewaterhouseCoopers and Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited served as Joint Financial Advisors and Sefton Fross served as legal advisor to Ignite Investments and Commodities Limited.

“This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any of the ordinary shares or any other securities, nor will there be any sale of the ordinary shares or any other securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such an offer, solicitation or sale is not permitted.”

Yacht, private jet owners to pay luxury taxes from 2019 – Zainab Ahmed

The minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, has said that says owners of yachts and private jets will be taxed on these luxury items in 2019.

The Minister, while addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday, revealed that taxes will be reduced for small and medium, enterprises, while excise duties would be introduced in some areas.

We are exploring the way to increase taxes as well as reduce taxes in some sectors. For Small and Medium Enterprises, what will happen is to reduce taxes. But there are some special taxes that we will be looking at imposing,” she said.

For example, luxury taxes. If you have a private jet, we will be taxing you specially for that. If you have a yacht, we will be charging you for that and also in terms of excise duties, there are also some new areas where excise duties will be introduced.

“We haven’t got all the approvals but one of the major areas might be that of carbonated drinks produced in the country.”

According to Ahmed, the Whistleblower Unit has recovered over N8.5 billion and $465 million among others from the 1,051 investigations conducted from tips received.

“Based on verification outcome by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), we have also paid over 2,000 former workers of our defunct national carrier- Nigeria Airways Limited,” she said.

Experts identify factors that will shape 2019 stock market

 

stock-exchange

Financial experts have identified outcome of general elections, direction of monetary policy and United States-China trade tension as factors that will shape the country’s stock market in 2019.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews yesterday in Lagos that stock market performance in 2019 would be shaped by both external and internal factors.

Prof. Uche Uwaleke, Head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, said that U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy as well as the ability of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies to regulate oil prices would shape stock market performance in 2019.

Uwaleke added that political tension and outcome of the elections in Nigeria, the fate of the 2019 budget and direction of monetary policy would determine stock market performance.

Chartered stockbroker and chief executive officer of Sofunix Investment and Communications, Mr. Sola Oni, attributed the lacklustre performance of the stock market this year to illiquidity in the system.

Oni explained that massive share dumping by nervous portfolio investors and their Nigerian counterparts who were apprehensive of likely crisis during 2019 general elections contributed to the market lull.

“This is reinforced by unguarded utterances of the political class,” he added.

According to him, the outcome of the next general elections and ability of government to tackle the economic challenges, especially investment in infrastructure, will shape the stock market next year.

Effective management of fiscal and monetary policies and creation of sustainable conducive business environment, among others, are expected to shape activities in the stock market, he asserted.

“However, there are investments that thrive during recession. Hence, investors should take advantage of professional advice from stockbrokers and other investment advisers who keep tabs on investment opportunities,” he advised.

How intrigues, lapses, losses caused Diamond Bank’s fall

Uzoma Dozie, Group Chief Executive of Diamond Bank Plc

A persistent breach of governance rules, particularly manifested in avoidable exposure to the oil sector, leading to huge Non-Performing Loans (NPLs), and board disharmony, resulting in wrong decisions, brought Diamond Bank to its knees.

Besides, a recurring insistence to take final decisions on some issues of importance, rooted in “ownership” mentality, irrespective of assessed consequences, aggravated board politics and hastened the company’s collapse.

The sudden fall of the retail banking giant, with N1.55 trillion total assets as at September 2018 and lost value in share price now at N1.37, from N7 in about five years ago, alongside its offshore operations, surely attests to failed decisions and consequences of poor corporate governance.

For the Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, the “merger” with Diamond Bank and its leadership in digital and mobile-led retail banking, “will accelerate our ambition to become a leading corporate and retail bank in Nigeria and a Pan-African financial services champion.

“This is a huge step towards the delivery of our goal to bring the power of banking to millions of people across Nigeria and an exciting transaction for Access Bank and Diamond Bank’s customers, staff and shareholders.”

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie, agreed that giving up the bank’s independence now for a merger was in the best interest of all stakeholders – employees, customers, depositors and shareholders – a tacit admission of frailty.

“Diamond Bank would be absorbed into Access Bank and it will cease to exist under Nigerian law. The current listing of Diamond Bank’s shares on the NSE and the listing of Diamond Bank’s global depositary receipts on the London Stock Exchange will be cancelled, upon the merger becoming effective,” the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Uzoma Uja, added.

The ongoing merger, which would involve Access Bank’s acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Diamond Bank in a combined exchange for cash and shares, has completely put matters to rest that the digital and mobile-led retail banking giant is taken over.

But it would first, write off the full year 2018 impairment charges for Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) on more than N700 billion loan book, ahead of the completion of the merger deal with Access Bank.

The retail giant is currently trading away its independence together with 19 million customer-base, made up of 10 million mobile users; 7,000 digital and financial inclusion customers; 277- branch network; and 10.2 million credit/debit cards issued so far.

The bank’s management, according to its financial statement, acted in defiance of prudential guidelines, traded away an advantage position of cheap cost of funds averaging 4.3 per cent and sustained ill-advised lending, which left the financial institution nurturing an NPL of 12.6 per cent, against five per cent industry benchmark, with attendant high impairment charges.

Specifically, the huge NPL predisposed the bank to a yearly impairment charges of more than N25 billion, which particularly left its 2018 nine-month profit after tax at less than N3billion, as loans and advances to banks and customers peaked at N749.3 billion.

Worrisome too is that the bank’s shareholders’ fund at N221.6 billion is subjected to a total liability of N1.33 trillion, translating to N1 equity contribution for every N6 obligation, together with about four years without dividend.

Cadbury rewards 30 employees for long service

Cadbury Nigeria Plc has celebrated some of its employees that served the Company meritoriously for 10, 20 and 30 years, during its Long Service Awards ceremony.The Director, Corporate and Government Affairs, West Africa, Bala Yesufu, said in a statement that Cadbury rewarded 30 employees for their length of service to the organisation.

Giving a breakdown of this figure, Yesufu disclosed that 18 of the awardees are in the 10 years category, while nine awardees fall under the 20 years category. The last category of 30 years, consists of three awardees. He added that 11 out of the 18 awardees in the 10 years category are staff of the Company’s Ondo Plant.

“The awardees, who have been part our lives, have contributed in no small measure to the growth of the business over the years. Cadbury will continue to celebrate its employees for their commitment and loyalty to the organisation.”

The Human Resource Director, Tope-Phillips Aikhuemelo, congratulated the awardees on the various milestones they have attained in the Company.He charged them not to rest on their oars but to see their recognition as a challenge to raise the bar in terms of service delivery to the organisation.

Meanwhile, Cadbury won several awards in the outgoing year for its commitment to workplace safety and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The Company’s Ondo Plant received an award for its Excellent Safety Culture, under the Safe Workplace Intervention Project (SWIP) of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA). Cadbury’s Ikeja Plant won a similar award in 2013.Cadbury also received an award for its commendable CSR, at the 2018 Annual Compliance and Green Awards ceremony, organised by the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).

Similarly, TomTom, the candy brand from Cadbury, won the ‘Best Digital Campaign in Nigeria, for 2018,’ at the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) Awards for Marketing Excellence in Lagos. As part of the Company’s repositioning drive, it has invested a lot in its human capital, pioneered some innovation in the industry, and acquired new world-class technology, to enable it to maintain its winning streak.

Cadbury is currently executing a three-year community partnership, in collaboration with Helen Keller International (HKI), to promote good nutrition and healthy lifestyle, for over 6,000 children in nine public primary schools within its host community in Lagos. Various stakeholders have lauded the initiative, which they noted will cause positive behavioural change among children and their parents.

‘Nigeria is the only producer of high-voltage cables in West Africa’

In the whole of West Africa, Nigeria is the only producer of high-voltage cables and the sixth country to adopt the technology in the Africa.The Managing Director, Coleman Wires and Cables Limited, George Onafowokan, said this in an interview on Wednesday.He attributed its growth in the sector to many factors, including: strategic planning, commitment, perseverance, training, skilled workforce, Nigerian Content Act and support of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

Onafowokan said: “Nigeria is now a one-stop-shop that produces a wide range of cables such as make house wire cables, distribution cables, armoured and non-armoured cables, communication cables, control cables, solar cables and high voltage cables, thus making us the only producers of high voltage cables in West Africa. We also produce high voltage cables, thus making Nigeria the 6th country in the continent to do so”.

He said the industry had grown and will continue to grow from one level to another, apparently because operators believe in long term and strategic planning, adding: “What we’ve achieved was all in duration of less than 20 years.

“For me, one of the major driving forces has been ourselves and the team. For me, as a team lead, I am one that believes in the Nigerian dream; one that believes that we should not sell imported cables. So, Coleman has a standard rule, it does not sell any cable it cannot produce.

“We are highly committed to them. Already, many people and organisations have commended us for such commitment. Our emphasis has always been on training Nigerians to take over, believing that Nigerians have the ability to play even technical roles that we think we can’t. So, it’s all about training, and capacity building.”

Onafowokan, who acknowledged the roles of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB said: “We got financial support from the Bank of Industry (BoI). It has been a great impact on our development.

“Without the BoI, we would not have grown to the extent that we have because if you depend solely on the commercial banks, you will not make much progress because they charge very high interest rates. In fact, the interest rates will kill you because even if a commercial bank gives you a five-year loan, charging you 25 per cent per annum, you’ll pay more than double the money by the time you finish paying.”

He said: “The NCDMB has extremely impacted the industry within a short period of time. Specifically, the industry has gone from one level to ten levels in the past two years. Some of the projects we have done were driven by the Local Content Act of 2010. We were encouraged to go into the high-voltage cable production and currently planning to go into EPR Rubber cable production.

“For the oil and gas industry, it would do something we have never done before. Take the case of Egina Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) platform for example. It was a game changer for us because we only produced about three per cent of the cables used. But this rubber insulated and sheathed cable factory would produce 100 per cent of the cables of the FPSO in Nigeria as well as other oil and gas refineries projects like the NLNG Train 7.

“In addition the cables are also used in the marine vessels and in the mining industry. We also look forward to taking part in many other projects in the oil and gas industry.”

INEC registers 14.5m new voters ahead of 2019 election


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has placed the total number of newly registered voters as 14,551,482 ahead of the 2019 general election.The Chairman of the Commission, Mahmood Yakubu made the announcement during the Commission’s third quarterly consultative meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at INEC’s Headquarters, Abuja.

“At the end of the exercise, a total of 14,551,482 new voters were registered. If this figure is added to the existing register of 69,720,350 voters, it means that the nation now has a voter population of 84,271,832,” Yakubu said.

“The Commission is also processing 769,917 requests for intra and inter-State transfers as well as 1,178,793 requests for replacement of lost, damaged or cards with misspelt names or incorrect personal details of voters as required by law,” he added.

The INEC Chairman further stated that the figure may reduce after the Commission filters the register to rid it of multiple registrations with the current figure representing about 21 per cent increase on the existing register.

Yakubu also disclosed that INEC has printed a total of 16,500,192 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) for those registered in 2017 and delivered them to States for collection.

While the PVCs for 2.7 million voters registered in the first quarter of 2018 have also been printed and will be delivered to the States in the coming week.

He added that as part of its efforts aimed at ensuring that citizens got their PVCs with minimum inconveniences, INEC has collaborated with the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC) to send bulk SMS to citizens for the collection of their PVCs.

The commission chairman also talked on the issue of vote buying during elections and other election malpractices, Yakubu assures total preparation of the body to curb such illicit acts as elections approach.

“We are working on a multi-faceted approach to the menace of vote-buying and other sundry electoral malpractices. We will introduce changes to the election-day administration of our polling units, in addition to the electronic tracking of our sensitive materials. We are discussing with the security agencies on a more vigorous enforcement of the law against voter-inducement. Furthermore, we are working with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and other stakeholders on voter education and sensitization,” he stated.

Yakubu, therefore, assures the people of Osun that will be having their governorship elections in September 22nd, that their votes only will count and the commision will not give room for any malpractices.

The CVR exercise, which began on 27th April 2017 was suspended on 31st August.

British Airways hacked with details of 380,000 bank cards stolen

British Airways said that the personal and financial details of customers making bookings between August 21 and September 5 had been stolen in a data breach involving 380,000 bank cards.

The almost two week long hack did not involve travel or passport details, the airline said, adding that it had launched an urgent investigation into the theft of customer data.

“The personal and financial details of customers making bookings on our website and app were compromised,” it said. “The breach has been resolved and our website is working normally. We have notified the police and relevant authorities.”

BA said the breach took place between 2158 GMT on August 21 and 2045 GMT on September 5 and that around 380,000 payment cards were compromised.

BA advised anyone who believed they may have been affected to contact their bank or credit card provider and follow their recommendations.

In terms of compensation, BA said they would be in touch with customers “and will manage any claims on an individual basis.”

“We are deeply sorry for the disruption that this criminal activity has caused,” the airline said.

It said customers due to travel could check in online as normal as the incident had been resolved.

BA customer Daniel Willis, 34, who booked a flight on Monday with the airline, said he had not been contacted by the airline despite being affected by the data breach.

“I’ve not heard anything from them on this and I’ve just had to cancel the card I used. They’re a shambles,” he told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Another BA customer, Stephanie Jowers, said she contacted the airline hours before the hack was announced to query a suspicious charge on her account but was not informed it could have been compromised.

“I asked repeatedly for an explanation. None was given,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

Past IT issues 
The National Crime Agency said: “We are aware of reports of a data breach affecting British Airways and are working with partners to assess the best course of action.”

The NCA is set up to tackle the most serious and organised crime posing the highest risk to public security in Britain.

BA apologised in July after technology issues caused dozens of its flights to and from London Heathrow Airport to be cancelled.

The airline said the problem was down to an incident with an IT system.

And in May 2017, British Airways suffered a major computer system failure triggered by a power supply issue near Heathrow which left 75,000 customers stranded.

IAG, which owns British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia, said last month that first-half profits more than doubled.

Earnings after taxation flew to 1.4 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in the first six months of 2018 compared with 607 million euros a year earlier, IAG said in a results statement.

The London-listed group, which is also the owner of Irish airline Aer Lingus and Spanish carrier Vueling, added that total revenues swelled three percent to 11.2 billion euros.

BA announced last month that it will halt flights to Tehran in September, citing low profitability as the US reimposes sanctions on Iran.

Ortom appoints Benue’s first female Head of Service

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has appointed Veronica Onyeke as the new head of service.

According to the governor’s chief press secretary, Terver Akase, she is the first female head of state in Benue, since the creation of the state in 1967.

Mrs. Onyeke hails from Ogbadibo Local Government Area of the state. Prior to her present promotion, she was a permanent secretary in the office of the Deputy Governor.

Onyeke takes over from Engineer George Ede who is to proceed on retirement.

FG ‘deliberately corrupting Osun Voters’ With Trader Moni – Oby Ezekwezili

A former Minister of Education and co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) Group, Oby Ezekwezili, on Friday accused the Nigerian Government of “deliberately corrupting the elections in Osun” by launching the Trader Moni scheme in the state three weeks before its scheduled governorship elections.

“The Federal Government either failed to be Ethically Circumspect or in fact Deliberately decided to CORRUPT the Elections in Osun by handing out Cash to Traders on the heels of the State Elections,” Ezekwezili tweeted on her Twitter page.

“Such behaviour after the Grand Corrupting of Voters in Ekiti is REPREHENSIBLE,” She added.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on September 3, 2018, launched the programme, TraderMoni, in Osun targeting 30,000 traders and artisans in the state.

Osinbajo said the TraderMoni is a micro-credit scheme to cater for ultra-micro enterprises.

According to him, it is meant to reinforce the Federal Government’s commitment to bridge the credit gap and empower Nigerians at the grassroots.

“The policy of the Federal Government is to support businesses, not just big business but particularly small, medium-sized businesses and micro businesses. The whole idea is that we want to ensure that we give whatever support whether it is cash, advice or even registration to all of our small and medium enterprises” Osinbajo said during its launch in Benin late July.

The Federal Government budgeted N300,000,000 to empower traders in Osun, and the loan is expected to be repaid within six months, after which the traders can access higher amounts.

Morocco says over 50,000 migrant crossings to Europe foiled

Moroccan authorities have so far this year foiled 54,000 bids by illegal migrants to cross to Europe, the official MAP news agency reported Friday.

It said that authorities had dismantled 74 “criminal networks” linked to people smuggling and seized 1,900 boats over the same period.

The North African country — a key route for sub-Saharan Africans trying to reach Europe via Spain — has launched an operation targeting people smugglers.

In July, hundreds of migrants forced their way into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by violently storming a heavily fortified border fence with Morocco.

Ceuta and Melilla, Spain’s other tiny territory in North Africa, make up the European Union’s only land borders with Africa.

Spain has become the main entry point for migrants arriving in Europe, after Italy and Greece.

More than 35,000 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea and land so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

MAP did not give the nationalities of the migrants prevented from crossing to Europe or specify what action was taken.

According to the interior ministry, 230 suspected people smugglers — Moroccans and sub-Saharan Africans — have been put on trial since the start of 2018.

Buhari returns to Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday night returned to Abuja after attending the Forum on China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing.

During the six-day visit to China, Buhari held bilateral talks and witnessed the signing of some agreements between Nigeria and China in the areas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the economy.

He also participated in the High-Level Dialogue between Chinese and African leaders and business representatives.

At the FOCAC meeting, Buhari expressed the appreciation of ECOWAS member states for China’s increasing investment in the sub-region with the aim of building a prosperous and shared future.

He noted that China was the largest investor in the sub-region in both private and public sectors, covering areas, such as infrastructure development in energy, agriculture, mining and healthcare.

According to him, China also provides significant assistance in emergency humanitarian aid and response to climate change for Africa.

Buhari at the FOCAC Round Table on Tuesday, attended by African leaders and Chinese President Xi Jinping, said Nigeria’s partnership with China through FOCAC had resulted in the execution of vital infrastructure projects worth over five billion dollars.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, who was part of the president’s entourage to China, reported that
Buhari won the crucial support of Jinping, for Nigeria’s aspiration to build the 3050 Megawatts Mambilla hydro-power project.

He revealed that Nigeria and China also signed the agreement of 328 million dollars for the Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II (NICTIB II) project.

The concessional loan agreement between Galaxy Backbone Limited and Huawei Technologies Limited (HUAWEI) was signed by Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Kemi Adesoun and Wang Xiaotoa, Director-General, International Development Agency of China.

The presidential aide disclosed that Nigeria and China also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR).

In Beijing, Buhari also received assurances from the Joint Venture Partners handling the 3050 Megawatts Mambilla Hydro-power Plant of which arrangements had reached advance stage for the commencement of work early in 2019.

Buhari received the assurance when he was briefed on time lines for the commencement of work at a meeting with Prof. Lyu Ze Xiang, the President of CGCC, the company handling the project.

The president, at separate meetings with prospective Chinese investors on the sidelines of FOCAC, assured existing and prospective Chinese investors of high-level support for their investment plans in Nigeria.

The president, at an interactive session with the Nigerian community in China on Saturday, had given assurance that as “a beneficiary of free and fair elections, I’m not afraid of a credible process in 2019.’’

To this effect, the president reaffirmed his commitment to making sure that the 2019 polls would be free, fair and credible.

Buhari pledged that Nigerians eligible to vote in the general elections would be allowed to freely elect candidates of their choices.

Just like Apple, Amazon hits $1 trillion valuation


Amazon.com Inc. has followed Apple Inc. to become the second U.S. company to reach $1 trillion in market value, reflecting the online retailer’s striking transformation from a profitless bookseller into a disruptive force of commerce.

Shares of Amazon climbed 1.9% in midday trading on Tuesday, topping the $2,050.27 needed to push the company’s value above $1 trillion. The stock has surged 75% in 2018 and added more than $435 billion to the company’s market capitalization—roughly the size of Walmart Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. COST +0.34% and Target Corp. TGT 0.82% combined.

Investors have rewarded the Seattle-based company as it demonstrated better financial discipline in recent quarters, reporting record profits because of lucrative businesses such as cloud computing despite aggressively spending on industries from health care to grocery delivery.

“They’ve proven they can make it work,” said Michael Lippert, who manages the Baron Capital BCAP -98.00% Opportunity Fund that counts Amazon as its largest holding. “They’re spending a lot on all these things to build and enforce their competitive advantages.”

Amazon and Apple, which hit the trillion-dollar milestone on Aug. 2, symbolize the growing influence of tech companies on markets and the economy. The industry is amassing wealth and power, creating a new order in business where the most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.

Not far behind in market value are Google owner Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp. , both approaching $900 billion, while Facebook Inc. which crossed $500 billion in July 2017, a day after Amazon—has stalled at those levels amid a data-privacy scandal and growth concerns.

The companies’ increasing clout has prompted lawmakers to scrutinize the tech sector more closely. Amazon, which captures nearly half of all U.S. dollars spent online, is simultaneously drawing the ire of President Trump over its effect on traditional retail and its use of the U.S. Postal Service. Sen. Bernie Sanders has also criticized the company for the way it pays and treats its warehouse workers, something Amazon has said is an inaccurate portrayal.

Investors also worry about the tech companies’ outsize impact on the stock market. Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have accounted for more than 35% of the S&P 500’s total return this year, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices data through Aug. 28.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Amazon’s growth is its 54-year-old leader, Jeff Bezos, who has surpassed Bill Gates to become the richest man in the world, according to multiple indices that track the world’s wealthiest people. Mr. Bezos owned roughly 16% of Amazon, as of an August regulatory filing, and is worth about $166 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Amazon has expanded rapidly since its humble founding as an online bookstore in Mr. Bezos’s garage in 1994. The internet then was just becoming a viable platform, and the most valuable companies at the time included industrial conglomerate General Electric Co. , oil giant Exxon Inc. and telecommunications power AT&T Inc.Amazon was valued at less than $500 million when it went public in 1997. A $1,000 investment in the IPO would be worth roughly $1.4 million today, adjusted for stock splits.

China Supports Africa

China will provide $60 billion in financial support to Africa, President Xi Jinping said on Monday at the opening of a major China-Africa summit.
The package includes $20 billion of credit lines; $15 billion of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans; $10 billion for a special fund; and $5 billion to support imports from Africa.

The support will be provided in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies, Xi said in a speech carried live on state television.

China will also expand its imports from Africa, especially for non-resources products, and will facilitate African financial institutions’ bond issuances in China, Xi added.
Speaking to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation  on Monday in Beijing, Xi defended the global program to develop roads, railways, ports, pipelines and other trade links. China planned to exempt some African countries from interest-free loans due by the end of the year, Xi said, adding that the relief would be granted to unspecified poor and heavily indebted countries.

“We will fully honor the promises we have made to our African brothers,” Xi told the gathering. Among those present were South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
In recent months, Beijing has faced criticism about its debt practices from countries ranging from Australia to India, with even some Chinese academics airing doubts at home. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned against “a new version of colonialism” during a visit to Beijing last month after suspending a $20 billion Chinese-built rail project.

While Beijing-backed investment has provided African governments much-needed infrastructure without the West’s political and fiscal demands, it has also generated complaints about China’s preference for loans and reluctance to use local labor. Such concerns have grown as Xi extended his Belt and Road plan across much of the globe and tied it to his ambition of completing his country’s return to great power status.
Africa received $12 billion of Chinese lending in 2015, compared with just over $100 million in 2000, according data from the China-Africa Research Initiative. Ongoing Chinese-backed investments range from Ivory Coast power plants to a Rwandan airport to a railway in Kenya.
Africa includes some of China’s largest suppliers of oil and other commodities, and the tiny nation of Djibouti hosts its first overseas military base. Total trade between China and the continent’s nations rose 14 percent last year to $170 billion, according to Chinese data.
In his speech, Xi promised to continue what he called a “five-no” approach for African nations, including not altering developmental paths, not interfering in their affairs, not imposing China’s will, not attaching “strings” to financial assistance, and not seeking political gain.
At a business event ahead of the summit, Xi said China had “full respect for Africa’s own will” and wasn’t interested in forming an “exclusive club.”
“China’s cooperation with Africa is clearly targeted at the major bottlenecks to development,” he added. “Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is attending the forum ith a retinue of aides and Ministers.
President Buhari made strong case for easier access to Chinese Visa for Nigerian students and Businessmen, to ease movement between China and West Africa.
Buhari made the requests while delivering his address at the beginning of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) holding September 3 – 4, 2018.
Speaking on behalf of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Buhari listed areas of needs to include “ Visa facilitation for our businessmen and women, and students who seek to visit China”
Buhari also noted that ECOWAS welcomes more of Chinese tourists to visit West Africa, “to enhance enhance people-to-people exchanges, especially now that Member States are getting involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.”
President Buhari who said the sub-region is endowed with enormous tourism potentials, added that “ with China’s support, tourism related infrastructure should be developed to empower our citizens, create more employment opportunities among the teeming population and eliminate poverty.”
Buhari reiterated the commitment of ECOWAS member States to deepening and strengthening institutions in the sub-region, through good governance, the fight against corruption, combating terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime, which he said necessary actions that must be taken “if the right conditions for sustainable economic growth in West Africa are to be achieved.”

Airtel celebrates Africa’s outstanding achievement in film, television industry

AMVCA 2018

Leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria, on Saturday, September 1, 2018 reaffirmed its commitment to the development of Africa’s film and television industry with the sponsorship of the biggest award night for African movies, the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA).

Speaking on its sponsorship of the AMVCA, the telco said that the creative industry is bringing about positive change in the perception of the African continent, growing recognition of talents and the rich culture of the continent’s tradition, noting that its sponsorship of the awards is also to connect Africans as well as promote and support the entertainment industry in Nigeria and Africa at large.

The sixth edition of the Airtel-sponsored Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) had over 120 nominations for 27 categories, filmmakers and actors from several African countries including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria in attendance at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

East African movie 18 Hours, which tells an authentic African story was crowned the Overall Best Movie at the awards. Tatu by Akpe Ododoru and Tunde Akinniyi won the Best Lighting Designer Movie/TV Series; Okafor’s Law by Yinka Edward clinched the Best Cinematography Movies/TV series; The Bridge by Ngozi Obasi and James Bessinone won Best Costume/Designer Movie or TV Series. The Flesh Business by Dennis Wanjohi was announced as Best Documentary. Tunji Afolayan bagged the Best Art Director Award for his outstanding role in Lotanna. Best Soundtrack Movies/TV Series was won by Tatu – Evelle.

Veteran cinematographer, Tunde Kelani, emerged the winner of the 2018 Industry Merit Award while Bisola Aiyeola went home with the Trail Blazer Award. Lydia Forson won the Best Supporting Actress for her role in Isoken. Falz also bagged Best Supporting Actor for his role in New Money.

Other winners of the night include Odunlade Adekola – A Million Baby (Best Actor in a comedy); Omotola Jalade Ekeinde – Alter (Best Actress in a Drama/TV Series); Adjetey Anang – Keteke (Best Actor in a Drama Series) among others.

The AMVCA is aimed at creating, sharing value and mapping a footprint for the Africa brand.

Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards is an annual event by Multichoice and Africa Magic recognizing exceptional achievement in television and film, voted by the general public.

The night was indeed a big show of glitz and glamour as celebrities across the continent and beyond turned out in their colourful fashion style, making a bold representation of their presence.

Stock market opens September with N4b losses

Equity transactions on the floor of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), reopened September trading on a downward note yesterday, as most highly capitalised stocks recorded price depreciation, causing market capitalisation to plunge by N4 billion.

Yesterday, the All-Share Index (NSE-ASI) declined by 10.95 absolute points, representing a decline of 0.03 per cent to close at 34,837.50 points. Also, the market capitalisation declined by N4 billion to close at N12.718 trillion.

The downturn was impacted by losses recorded in medium and large capitalised stocks, amongst which are; Guinness Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries, Flourmills Nigeria, Dangote Sugar, and Oando.

Analysts at GTI said: “We encourage investors to trade cautiously in the short term amidst continued profit-taking. However, our positive view in the medium-to-long term is hinged on the strong macro-economic outlook for the country, and the renewed interest in the Nigerian market by major economies.”

Market breadth closed with 18 gainers and 19 losers. Consolidated Hallmark Insurance recorded the highest price gain of 10 per cent to close at 33 kobo per share.

Aiico Insurance followed with a gain of 9.76 per cent to close at 90 kobo, while Continental Reinsurance appreciated by 9.49 per cent to close at N1.50 per share.
NPF Microfinance Bank rose 8.97 per cent to close at N1.58, while Wapic Insurance was up 8.33 per cent to close at 39 kobo per share.

On the other hand, Jaiz Bank led the losers’ chart by 10 per cent, to close at 45 kobo per share. Flourmills Nigeria followed with a decline of 9.67 per cent to close at N21.95 per share.

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) depreciated by 7.94 per cent to close at N1.16, per share. Prestige Assurance declined 7.69 per cent to close at 48 kobo, and Veritas Kapital Assurance shed 6.90 per cent to close at 27 kobo per share.

Also, total volume traded fell by 65.8 per cent to 131.53 million shares worth N3.13 billion, traded in 3,080 deals. Transactions in the shares of Nigerian Breweries topped the activity chart with 19.13 million shares valued at N1.82 billion.

StanbicIBTC Holdings followed with 11.81 million shares worth N556.59 million, while Aiico Insurance traded 11.24 million shares valued at N10.1 million.

United Bank for Africa (UBA) traded 10.75 million shares at N86.15 million, while NEM Insurance transacted 7.27 million shares worth N24.6 million.

Lafarge Africa plans EGM, seeks shareholders’ nod to raise N90b fresh fund

Lafarge-Africa-Plc.jpg

The board of Lafarge Africa Plc, on Monday, wrote the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), announcing plans for an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM), on September 25, 2018, in Lagos, to authorise the directors to raise up to N90billion in fresh capital by way of rights to existing shareholders.

The company will also seek approval “to apply any convertible loan, shareholder loan or any other loan facility due to any person, from the company, as may be agreed by the person and the company, towards payment for any shares or rights subscribed for in the rights issue.”

The shareholders had at the 59th yearly general meeting on May 16, approved the raising of up to N100billion additional capital, subject to the approval of relevant regulatory authorities.

According to the notice signed by the Company Secretary, Mrs. Adewunmi Alode, shareholders at the EGM will also vote on special resolutions.

These include the increase of the authorised share capital of Lafarge Africa from N5billion to N10billion “by the creation of 10 billion additional ordinary shares of 50kobo each, ranking pari passu in all respect with the existing ordinary shares of the company.”

Lafarge explained that the restructuring is aimed at improving its leverage position, its industrial operations as well as strengthening its profitability.

The company also noted that reforms implemented by the firm to improve operational efficiency both in Nigeria, and South Africa, as well as effective management of its borrowing costs have impacted its performance as the Nigerian operations posted a profit of N1.9billion.

Lafarge reported a profit of N1.9billion in its Nigeria operation for the second quarter (Q2) of 2018.

Strong market growth in Nigeria within the period reflected the end of the recession in the cement market.

It attributed the success in Nigerian operations to operational stability, success of the turnaround plan implementation and volume improvement.

“Strong sales in Nigeria increased volumes in Q2 2018 by 18.7% (inclusive of export) and 9.6% in ReadyMix. In total, 68 kilotons of cement have been exported to Ghana with 28kt shipped in Q2 2018.”

UBA’s Leo launched on WhatsApp

leo_whatsapp-624x400.jpg

Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) has announced the commencement of its chat bank ‘Leo’ on the WhatsApp platform.

With Leo on WhatsApp, customers who are users and lovers of the app can now can perform basic banking services including checking their balances on the go, transferring funds, paying bills, among other services.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, who expressed excitement about the development remarked that the bank is continuously working in line with customers’ demand to ensure that banking services are made convenient and without stress.

He said: “This only goes to show that our resolve in continuing to deploy innovative solutions that place customers first, using cutting edge technology for their collective satisfaction and excellent banking experience is important to us. This recognition will further spur us to do more in meeting the needs of our customers with unrivalled services.”

“Our recent launch of Leo in 13 other African countries is evidence that UBA has on its agenda, the objective of digital creativity especially in service for our trusted customer base across the African continent.”

Also speaking on the new service, the Group Head of UBA’s Online Banking, Mr Austine Abolusoro, stated “United Bank for Africa is a technology-driven institution with vast knowledge in the business that we do and Leo, being a tested dependable and intelligent personality, will replicate on WhatsApp, the success it has experienced on the Facebook Messenger platform.  It is a solution that is from the customer’s standpoint, easy to use by anyone regardless of your demography.” “Leo is ready and waiting to help with any form of banking services,” continued Abolusoro.

WhatsApp has been in existence for over 9 years, reaching more than 1.5 billion people in over 180 countries. The premium private chat platform has assured that there will be no spam messages as the development is to enable businesses serve their customers with useful and helpful information.

Security experts warn FG on rising online breaches

Task President Buhari on Electronic Transaction Bill
Cyber Security experts have called on the Federal Government not to treat the rising cyber security breaches in the country with levity.

The Cyber Security Expert Associations of Nigeria (CSEAN), called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to among others; urgently assent to the Electronic Transaction Bill, which has been passed by the Senate since May 2017.

Speaking at the Cyber Security Meetup in Lagos, the President of CSEAN,  Remi Afon, explained that the Bill, which has been sitting on the President’s desk for over a year, will protect Nigerians in their financial transactions when finally sign into law.

Afon, who equally urged the Senate to pass the Data Privacy Bill, noted that apart from protecting the majority of Nigerians in their financial dealings, the bill will also protect the banks and their infrastructure, as they can leverage it to prosecute cases and make claims.

“As an advocacy group, we are calling on the President to assent to the Electronic Transaction Bill, as it will provide a legal and regulatory framework for conducting transactions using electronic or related media, and for the protection of the rights of consumers, including the facilitation of electronic commerce in Nigeria,” said Afon.

The Electronic Transaction Bill seeks to provide a legal and regulatory structure for conducting transactions using electronic or related media, and for the protection of the rights of consumers including the facilitation of electronic commerce in Nigeria.

On increasing cyber breaches, he said: “We’re still going to see a lot of that now, there’s been a lot of advancement in terms of hacking, the threats aren’t going to come from within Nigeria alone, but from outside,” he stated.

Other speakers at the event pointed out that in as much as Nigeria has many legislation on data protection and cyber security, but there is still no proper framework for the protection of individuals in the country in the online cyber space.

One of the speakers, Oluseye Banjoko, who recommended that the country adopts an independent advisory authority to oversee, monitor and enforce compliance to data protection laws, also reiterated the need for a body to oversee the Nigerian cyber space.

This is just as Afon warned that failure to enact and enforce data protection and cyber security laws would be detrimental, pointing to the Cambridge analytica & Facebook scandal, where millions of user data were harvested worldwide, including Nigerian, and used for different political activities.

He noted that Nigeria always waited for an incident to happen before actions are taken. “The government really needs to hold the bull by the horn. Everybody, including the banks is feeling the impact of cybercrime, but the government has not really taken steps to secure the country cyber space is secured,” he added.

Forex irregularities scare marketers off kerosene importation

Oil marketers in Nigeria are still reluctant to resume the importation of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), after abandoning the venture for over two years on the grounds of unprofitability.

The marketers complained that access to foreign exchange (forex) for the importation of DPK is marred by irregularities.

Two years after the Federal Government removed subsidy on the product, marketers discontinued their participation in the product’s importation amid prevailing demand from households, and largely the aviation sector.

Kerosene is being imported and sourced from local refineries by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) solely, and sold to marketers at a deregulated ex-depot price of about N190 per litre. But the supply of the product has continued to be epileptic, and characterised by price differentials.

Given the rising demand for the product as aviation fuel, some households that depend on the product, pay as high as N350 per litre to get it for domestic use.

Responding to queries from The Guardian on the position of marketers, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), disclosed that marketers are facing challenges in the importation other petroleum products, and not just DPK.

MOMAN said: “In the current environment, marketers are facing challenges with respect to importation of all products whether deregulated or not, because of challenges in accessing foreign exchange at competitive rates.

“NNPC sells Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) to marketers at an ex-depot price of N190 per litre. If marketers were to import the product using their (marketers) importation template, the landing cost would be N225 per litre due to the rate at which we access foreign exchange.
“The full benefits of competitive importation and full price deregulation can only be felt in an environment where all importers have equal access to foreign exchange at the same competitive rates.”

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPMAN), and other marketers, said they stayed away from kerosene importation because of outstanding subsidy arrears being owed by the Government.

According to the World Bank, over 51 per cent of Nigerians reside in the rural area, and depend on kerosene to cook or light their homes or opt for firewood due to the high cost of the product. While the figure of people cooking with firewood or charcoal rises, the World Health Organisation (WHO), reported that over 470,000 Nigerians have died in the past five years from firewood induced sicknesses.

A report published by a Non-Governmental Organisation, Power for All, noted that over 66 per cent of households in Nigeria use kerosene for lighting and cooking, while the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), put the proportional use of kerosene by Nigerian households at 22.8 per cent for cooking, and 57.8 per cent for lighting, mostly by the rural and peri-urban poor.

Taofeek Lawal, the spokesperson for Nipco Plc, the marketing and distribution joint venture company of IPMAN, in a telephone interview, said although the DPK market is perceived to be deregulated, but realities have shown that it is partially deregulated.
Citing the Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) market, which is fully deregulated, he noted if the DPK market was equally deregulated fully, the behaviour of both markets would be similar.

On account of deregulation, the DPK market had seen some level of volatility in price and supply templates at the retail end.
Some marketers that still receive kerosene stock from NNPC, say compared to Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and AGO, turnover for DPK had remained the worst, while margins on the product has been discouraging.

One marketer that spoke in confidence, said: “After AGO was deregulated, no marketer waits for NNPC for supply despite the fact that NNPC also imports AGO. Marketers go on to import and sell at prices they deem fit. But for DPK, marketers still wait for NNPC’s stock after years of perceived deregulation. That means something is actually wrong with DPK deregulation in Nigeria.”

The National Operations Controller, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said currently, members of the Association are not importing DPK, but insisted that the DPK market was fully deregulated.

According to him, any IPMAN member can bring in DPK after getting the necessary approvals from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

Osatuyi said, “We will start importing DPK when the coast is clear. By this, I mean when we are through with our internal reorganisation. But I must say the demand for the product is dropping, as people are switching over to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

“Because we believe the market is fully deregulated, I don’t think we will have any issue with foreign exchange when it is time to import.”

When contacted, the Executive Secretary, DAPPMA, Mr. Femi Adewole, declined to comment. But The Guardian gathered from a member of the Association that forex constraint is a major constraint to kerosene importation.

The source said members who currently deal on the product, concentrate on the supplying to the aviation sector, adding that the margin from selling the product to households is not attractive, and as such not leveraged by marketers.