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Zenith Bank and Access Banks Set to Acquire Union Bank

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Zenith Bank and Access Banks Set to Acquire Union Bank

Two Nigerian lenders – Zenith Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc – are among the list of financial institutions from Africa and the Middle East that have indicated an interest in the acquisition of Union Bank Plc and other African assets of Atlas Mara Group, a Pan-African banking group.

Bloomberg which disclosed this quoted sources familiar with the matter to have disclosed that Atlas Mara Limited, the London Stock Exchange-listed pan-African banking group started by Mr. Bob Diamond has received a number of approaches for its 49.97 per cent holding in Lagos-based Union Bank of Nigeria.

Zenith Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc are among the suitors that have expressed interest alongside other African rivals such as Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank, the sources said.

THISDAY also confirmed the development from sources in the two tier-1 banks, who also pleaded to remain anonymous.

Middle Eastern banks and private equity suitors have also shown interest, according to the sources. Some potential buyers have indicated that they may acquire all of Atlas Mara’s remaining assets in Africa, which would include its Zimbabwe unit, they said.

Atlas Mara has been working with Rothschild & Co. to consider options for its Union Bank stake. No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said.

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Representatives for Atlas Mara and Zenith Bank didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Attijariwafa Bank Managing Director “Ismail Douiri” and a representative for Access Bank declined to comment.

A deal could bring down the curtain on Atlas Mara’s African foray after Diamond, a former Barclays Plc chief executive officer, misjudged competition on the continent and overpaid for acquisitions. The company said recently that it’s secured regulatory approval for the sales of its businesses in Botswana and Mozambique and received interest in other assets, without elaborating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atlas Mara also said it completed a planned restructuring process and extended a standstill agreement with its creditors to May 17 to complete the necessary documentation. It’s still in legal disputes with two creditors, TLG and Norsad, it added.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the need to reposition the company, which has seen a plunge of about 96% in its stock since it started trading toward the end of 2013. The firm’s stake in UBN, Nigeria’s sixt

Commenting on the matter, Frontier and Sub-saharan Africa Banks’ Analyst, Renaissance Capital, Adesoji Solanke, wrote in a note made available to THISDAY yesterday:h-biggest bank by market value is its largest investment and seen as a foothold into the continent’s most populous nation.

“Good for Atlas Mara if they’re able to exit successfully, as they’ve been selling a bunch of assets over the past year, to KCB and Access Bank respectively across different markets. Whether they get a good valuation for Union Bank is another thing.

“We don’t think it’ll be a transformational deal for Access or Zenith (Return-on-Equity dilutive for both), but could be a good way for the Middle Eastern banks to get a decent foothold in the market. We suspect getting the other private equity investor block to sell will be critical as we wouldn’t expect a strategic bank investor to desire a minority shareholding.”

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Economy

Forex: Financial expert urges CBN to exercise caution on BDCs ban

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By Gistflash News

July 28, 2021

A Financial Expert, Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, has urged the Central Bank  of Nigeria (CBN) to be cautious of its recent “blanket’’  ban placed  on Bureau de Change (BDC) operators from foreign exchange (forex) trading.

Unegbu, a past President of the Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said that the ban would create some challenges in the market as commercial banks might not be able to meet the forex demands of importers.

According to Unegbu, commercial banks themselves are not perfect, as some of them also flout forex regulations.

“This punitive measure by the CBN can negatively affect the forex trading market.

“Most businessmen, when they cannot access forex from commercial banks, rush to the BDCs.

“Banks are not perfect, they also bend the rule sometimes, but that of the BDCs became so obvious  due to their large numbers.

“The Naira has been so bastardised and it is good to see that the CBN is acting to remedy the situation,’’ he said.

Unegbu said that athough some of the BDCs were involved in unwholesome practice there were still some BDCs that operated above board.

He said that the move by the apex bank was only a step toward resolving the abuse in the forex market and to reduce pressure on the Naira.

“There had been a lot of misgivings about forex in the country but this blanket ban by the CBN is just a step towards the solution.

“Not all the BDCs are bad, but as it is now CBN has banned both the good and he bad.

“But it is a warning to the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON).

“ABCON should find a way to make amends and reign in on some of the operators that abuse the system,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the CBN announced immediate discontinuation of forex to the BDCs.

CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, who made the announcement during the banks 280th Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, said that the BDC operators were involved in rent-seeking behaviour money laundering activities.

Emefiele added that BDCs were to serve the retail end users who needed 5,000 dollars or less, but had defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail user.

He also said that BDCs had instead become wholesale and illegal dealers.

NAN

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Economy

Africa to save $5bn annually through payment, settlement platform- AfCFTA Sec-Gen

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By Gistflash News

July 9, 2021

Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) said that the launch of the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System (PAPSS) would save the continent an estimated five billion dollars annually.

Mr Wamkele Mene, AfCFTA Secretary General, who revealed this at the 2nd edition of the AfCFTA secretariat quarterly press briefing on Friday, said this would be from the accruals from conversions to dollars.

He said that PAPSS, created in collaboration with the African Export-Import Bank (Afriexim bank), would address the currency conversion challenges for participating countries.

PAPSS is a centralised payment and settlement system created to serve the purpose of low cost and risk controlled payment clearing and settlement system under intra-African trade.

He said that six countries had been set up for the pilot scheme, some of which include; Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

Mene projected that by the end of 2021, the secretariat would be in a position to reveal the platform availability for all countries to switch.

“There is an objective that one day, Africa would be a monetary union.

“Converting the about 42 currencies in Africa with its attendant cost of over five billion dollars yearly is a whole lot and so we want to reduce and eliminate this for the purpose of trading.

“Local banks would be able to switch to the platform as we are in consultation with the central banks and by the end of the year, we would be in a position to say the platform is available for all African countries that want to switch to it.

“Afriexim bank has invested over one billion dollars and it is a strong signal that the AfCFTA would work.

“If you run a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) and you have to use a foreign platform for transaction, it is constraining and costly.

“With this system of payments, we would be able to enhance the effectiveness and competitiveness of SME as it addresses the constraints and costs associated with trade,” he said.

Mene also noted that the Rules of Origin mechanism of trade was at 86 per cent completion, even though the secretariat was gearing for 90 per cent completion before application.

Mene also stated that sensitisation and advocacy campaigns on the intricacies of the AfCFTA were a shared responsibility between participating states and the AfCFTA secretariat.

He revealed that an Africa business forum for the whole continent would be hosted later in the year to raise additional awareness.

This, Mene, said would also serve as a complementary step to what the various participating countries’ governments were already doing nationally on sensitisation.

“It is very important that the private sector is aware that there are export opportunities that this market creates and how they can maximally benefit from it.

“In all my visits to various participating countries, I have met with the private sector as a way to inform and incorporate them into what the AfCFTA is about,” he said.

NAN

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Economy

Over 750,000 persons embrace family planning in Taraba – TCI

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By Gistflash News

July 8, 2021

The Taraba  Director of The Challenge Initiative (TCI), Dr Sarki Othman, has disclosed that over 750,000 new persons have embraced family planning in the state in the last three years.
Othman disclosed this in Jalingo on Thursday during a media roundtable  on sustaining and advancing the gains of family planning in Taraba.
He said  the achievement was made possible through deliberate efforts at sensitisation and enlightenment carried out during the period, but noted that a lot more needed to be done.
`’Let me commend  members of the press for the good work you are doing in enlightening the people on the positive impact of family planning.
`’Through your joint efforts with other partners, we have recorded tremendous improvement in the number of new acceptors of family planning in the state.
“Of course you know that the services are basically free but most people were reluctant to access the services due to certain misconceptions. These have been largely corrected.
`’We hope to continue our advocacies to ensure reasonable budgetary allocations and disbursement to the cause.
“We encourage opinion leaders to continue to enlighten the people so that this project is sustained beyond the stay of the TCI and other partners in the state,” the director said.
He explained that based on the baseline survey carried out in the state in 2015, 5.6 per cent was the prevalence usage of modern contraceptives.
According to him, by 2018 the use of the commodity had risen to more than 8.6 per cent.
He said said emphasis had continued to be laid on women of reproductive age and sensitising teenagers on life planning.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the  meeting is the second media roundtable toward advancing family planning in the state under the TCI which will be rounding up the project in the eight pilot local government areas of Taraba in 2021.
The pilot local government areas are: Jalingo, Ardo-Kola, Gassol, Gashaka, Wukari, Sardauna, Zing and Bali.
NAN

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