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SEC denies involvement of EFCC in MTN brouhaha

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday said it did not invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into its ongoing investigation of the process that led to the listing of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc’s shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

A top official of the Commission, who did not want to be named, disclosed this yesterday, insisting that SEC has the capacity and wherewithal to fully investigate the matter, adding that the issue must be handled with caution and due process in view of the global implications for local shareholders and foreign investors.
“Nigerian Stock Exchange is a global market so we must follow global best practices in all we do so as not to scare investors,” the regulator said.

The SEC official said they had to speak out based on media reports that the EFCC was involved in the matter and the negative implication such might have on the market, added: “We (SEC) are investigating the matter thoroughly. We are going through all the transactions, each and every crossing, and would base our findings on the facts and the law.

“If there is any infraction(s), the matter would be directed to the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST) which is a superior court under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Nigeria: we will prosecute whoever is found wanting or apply the necessary sanction if such a case is established by the facts.”

“So, this is not law enforcement or police issue, that is why we never invited the EFCC. The IST is like a court of coordinate jurisdiction and so we couldn’t have invited the EFCC. SEC has the competence and capability to handle this under the law.

“So, we are allaying the fears of global investors that there is no cause for alarm. Everyone should calm down and allow the market function as it should.”

The EFCC at the weekend moved into MTN’s office and quizzed top officials of the telecoms company after demanding vital documents, regarding the listing process on the exchange.

But in a statement signed by its company Secretary, Uto Ukpanah, MTN had said it was never accused of any wrongdoing by the EFCC.

According to the statement, “MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN Nigeria) received a letter on May 23, 2019, from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) requesting information and documentation related to the listing of our shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). MTN Nigeria has not been accused of any wrongdoing by the EFCC.

“We wish to reiterate that we received all regulatory approvals required to list our shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, as publicly confirmed by the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“As a law-abiding and responsible corporate citizen, we are cooperating fully with the authorities. We are committed to good governance and to abiding by the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The unprecedented rise in the shares of MTN shortly after the listing was alleged to be a manipulation aimed at driving the price of the stock high before any share offering through an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

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Billionaire, Otedola sells off Forte Oil

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Billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola has revealed that he has sold his interests in Forte Oil.

Otedola made the revelation on Wednesday on his verified Instagram handle, adding that he has moved on from being a player in the petroleum industry to focusing on his power generation business.

The businessman, who shared photos of the different brand changes that the oil company had undergone, wrote: “A few years ago, my team and I embarked on an arduous task of transforming a moribund petroleum marketing business, African Petroleum Plc (formerly British Petroleum) into Forte Oil Plc; a leading integrated solutions provider with solid footprints in downstream petroleum marketing, Upstream Services and Power Generation and one in which we built intrinsic value to the benefits of our shareholders.

“In line with my principle of business focus, we have divested from our marketing and upstream businesses and shall from now on focus and consolidate on the gains of our power generation business, Geregu Power Plc.

“We wish our successors the very best and urge them to build on our legacies which have been established since 1964.”

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CBN says foreign investment is on the rise

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Total capital flows to Nigeria between January and May 2019, stood at $14.2 billion, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed last night. Of the aforementioned amount, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) accounted for $2.87 billion, representing 20.18 percent of the total amount.

The CBN revealed this in a statement that was signed by its Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor while reacting to a Reuters report which stated that FDI in the country dropped last year.

The apex bank said its attention was drawn to the news item on Reuters quoting the World Investment Report, 2019, recently released by UNCTAD on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to African countries.

“The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been drawn to the news item on Reuters quoting World Investment Report, 2019, recently released by UNCTAD on FDIs to African countries,” the statement said.

The UNCTAD report had alleged a decrease of over 40 percent in FDI inflows to Nigeria in 2018.
The CBN statement added: “While the CBN is not privy to the methodology used in arriving at the figures, we wish to state that available records show a significant increase in FDI in Nigeria during the period 2018, contrary to the Reuters’ report.

“For instance, in 2018, the total capital inflows to the country stood at $19.07 billion out of which FDI accounted for $7.78 billion.

“Furthermore, total capital flows to Nigeria, from January to May 2019 stood at $14.2 billion of which FDI accounted for $2.87 billion, representing 20.18 percent of the total amount.

“The country continues to enjoy steady capital flows due to the prevailing stable macroeconomic environment and sustained investors’ confidence in the economy.

“Against this background, we wish to urge the public to take advantage of several publications by the CBN and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which give adequate and accurate statistics on the subject matter,” the statement added.

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Inflation rate rises to 11.40%

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The inflation rate rose to 11.40 percent (year-on-year) in May 2019 according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report.

According to the report, this is 0.03 percent points higher than the rate recorded in April 2019 (11.37 percent). Increases were recorded in all 12 Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP) divisions, that yielded the Headline index. On a month-on-month basis, the Headline index increased by 1.11 percent in May. This is a 0.17 percent rate higher than the rate recorded in April 2019 (0.94 percent).

“The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the 12 months period ending May 2019, over the average of the CPI for the previous 12 months period was 11.30 percent, 0.01 percent points from 11.31 percent recorded in April 2019. The urban inflation rate increased by 11.76 percent (year-on-year) in May 2019 from 11.70 percent recorded in April 2019, while the rural inflation rate increased by 11.07 percent in May from 11.08 percent in April. On a month-on-month basis, the urban index rose by 1.15 percent in May, up by 0.15 points from 1.00 percent recorded in April 2019, while the rural index also rose by 1.07 percent in May 2019, up by 0.17 from the rate recorded in April 2019 (0.90 percent).

“The corresponding 12-month year-on-year average percentage change for the urban index was 11.66 percent in May. This is less than the 11.69 percent reported in April, while the corresponding rural inflation rate in May is 10.99 percent compared to 11.00 percent recorded in April.

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431 Nigerian companies indebted to AMCON

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Sixty-Two debtors are owing to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) N10 billion and above each, the agency has said.

The corporation was established on July 19, 2010, when AMCON Act was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan, with a mandate to acquire bad loans from banks, pay the banks and recover the loans from the debtors.

But eight years into its operation, the corporation is being owed N10 billion and above by each of the 62 high-profile debtors. The debt represents 40 percent of the 12,537 obligors.

AMCON said that 431 debtors, representing 37 percent of the debtors, owe between N1 billion and N10 billion; 1,998 debtors, constituting 16 percent of the total obligors, owe between N100 million and N1 billion while 10,046 debtors, representing seven percent of the total obligors owe between N100 million and below bringing the total number of bad loans under AMCON management to 12,537.
AMCON was created to be a key stabilizing and re-vitalizing tool aimed at reviving the financial system by efficiently resolving the non-performing loan assets of the banks in the economy.
The corporation has in the last eight years of operation, bought Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) worth N5.4 trillion from banks.

There is N3.8 trillion AMCON Bond held sorely by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and this is expected to mature by 2023.

AMCON’s Managing Director Ahmed Kuru announced that the corporation has so far recovered N1 trillion from the bad debtors, and the agency was doing everything within the ambit of the law to recover the remaining debts.

But recovering the remaining debts from billionaire debtors, who are taking strategic steps to ensure they do not payback will remain an uphill task, and perhaps impossible.

Financial pundits insist that since it took AMCON eight years to recover N1 trillion out of the N5.4 trillion bad debts, it is doubtful if it could recover the substantial amount by 2023, which is its sunset timeline. The N1 trillion recovery represents a meager 18.51 percent of the total debt portfolio.

Speaking on AMCON operations and results achieved so far, a Board Member at Standard Bank Group, South Africa, Atedo Peterside, said that one-third of the money that the Federal Government squandered on AMCON can resolve most of Nigeria’s social and economic problems including fixing the power sector.

Peterside who did not elaborate further on AMCON’s operation, spoke during ‘A Consultative Roundtable with The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor’ tagged: ‘Going for Growth’ held in Lagos.

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