Zenith Bank to pay N87.81bn dividends to shareholders

Zenith Bank Plc is set to pay N87.81bn worth of dividends to its shareholders for the 2018 financial year, following their approval at the bank’s Annual General Meeting in Lagos on Monday.

The shareholders approved the proposal of the board to pay 250 kobo per share as dividends for the 2018 financial year.

The directors proposed a final dividend of 250 kobo per share in addition to the 30 kobo per share earlier paid as interim dividend, bringing the total amount of dividends payable to 280 kobo per share, as against the 270 kobo per share paid in 2017.

The Chairman, Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia, said the bank remained committed to delivering superior returns to its shareholders by ensuring that a good chunk of its profits was set aside for them.

He said though 2018 was very challenging, the bank was able to fully exploit the opportunities within the environment to record a performance that attested to its durability and resilience as a brand.

Ovia said, “Clearly, the results are, once again, a reflection of the exceptional financial health of the bank and the group.

“For the bank, the total deposits were N2.82tn for the 2018 financial year, which is a 2.9 per cent increase over the previous year’s figure of N2.754tn. As a group, the performance indices were no less remarkable.”

He added that while the bank’s profit before tax rose by 13.6 per cent to N192bn from the N169bn recorded in 2017, the group’s profit before tax increased by 16.6 per cent to N232bn from N199bn in 2017.

Similarly, the bank’s profit after tax rose by 7.8 per cent to N165bn from N153bn in 2017, while that of the group increased by 10.9 per cent to N193bn from N174bn in 2017.

According to the chairman’s statement, the group’s total assets grew by 6.4 per cent from N5.60tn to N5.96tn, while shareholders’ fund increased by 0.5 per cent from N812bn to N816bn.

Jumia moves to sell shares in New York

Image result for Jumia moves to sell shares in New YorkAfrican e-commerce company, Jumia Technologies, filed for its initial public offering at the New York Stock Exchange.

The firm seeks to take advantage of rising Internet access and increasing smartphone use on the continent, Bloomberg reported.

According to the report, the company is seeking a public listing to raise funds and boost awareness, according to a filing on Tuesday and will trade under JMIA on the NYSE.

It was gathered that the IPO would value Jumia at about $1.5bn, while largest shareholder MTN Group is looking to raise about $600m to pay down debt.

Banks leading the IPO include Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc., Berenberg and RBC Capital Markets.

CB Insights rates Jumia as one of Africa’s three unicorns, a private company valued at more than $1bn.

The e-commerce group retailer offers in 14 African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, has about four million active customers as of 2018 from 2.7 million the previous year.

“We intend to benefit from the expected growth of e-commerce in Africa through the investments that we have made and the extensive local expertise that we have developed since our founding in 2012,” Jumia said in the filing.

The company reported a loss of €170.4m ($192.4m) in 2018, compared with €165.4m in 2017. The e-commerce firm is also burning cash with negative operating cash flows of $159.2m.

Jumia was founded by French entrepreneurs, Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara, who spied an opportunity in the lack of availability of items such as designer watches and sunglasses in Lagos stores.

MTN said at its full-year earnings presentation last week that Africa’s largest wireless carrier had identified Jumia as one of a number of e-commerce assets that could be sold as part of a 15 billion rand ($1bn) asset-disposal plan.

The Johannesburg-based company is also looking for buyers for flight-booking site, Travelstart-co.za.

Other Jumia shareholders include Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Millicom International Cellular SA, Orange SA and Africa Internet Group, a venture backed by Goldman, MTN and Rocket Internet SE.

NCC urges army to explore IT for efficiency

The Nigerian Communications Commission has charged the Nigerian Army to explore Information and Communications Technology in order to ensure efficient service delivery.

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, gave the charge at the donation of ICT equipment to the Nigerian Army Institute of Technology and Environmental Studies, Makurdi, in Abuja on Wednesday.

Danbatta, who was represented by Head of Information Technology, Mr Oshadami Abraham, said that the regulatory agency expected that gesture would go a long way in ensuring that the army achieved its mandate especially in securing the territorial integrity of the country.

The NCC boss said, “The commission no doubt expects that the gesture will go a long way to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Army towards achieving its mandate and to further enhance the security of the country.

“It is our hope that this donation will make a difference on the members of staff and students of your institute not only by improving their access to ICT tools but to enhance their skills in computing as well as understanding and developing an appreciation of ICT for improved efficiency and learning in various subjects.

“It is important to recall the saying that to whom much is given, much will be expected. Therefore, we expect that these ICT tools will be properly allocated, managed, protected and maintained for the benefit of the members of staff and students.”

Director of ICT at the institute, Ms Chidinma Nwafor, who represented the Rector of the institute, Brigadier General Aminu Abdu, expressed the appreciation of the institute for the donation.

Pound higher as investors expect MPs to vote down no-deal Brexit

Pound Sterling rose in early London trading on Wednesday as investors awaited a vote in Britain’s parliament that most expect will see the prospect of a no-deal Brexit defeated.

The pound, which has lurched upwards and downwards in volatile trading this week, has found some support despite Prime Minister Theresa May badly losing a vote on her Brexit withdrawal agreement late on Tuesday.

Britain’s parliament will vote again on Wednesday on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union on March 29 without a deal, which most economists say would cause significant harm to the economy.

May has given lawmakers in her party a free vote and investors expect parliament will vote against a no-deal Brexit.

The pound rose 0.4 per cent to the day’s high of 1.3120 dollars at the London open – putting the currency about half way between this week’s lows of 1.2945 dollars and its high of 1.3290 dollars.

Against the euro, sterling was also stronger, hitting 86.020 pence but was below 22-month lows of 84.755 pence touched on Tuesday before hopes for May’s Brexit deal to pass were crushed.

Uncertainty still surrounds FID on $4.3bn NLNG Train 7

Image result for Uncertainty still surrounds FID on $4.3bn NLNG Train 7Eight months after the signing of the Front End Engineering Design contract for Train 7 of the Nigeria LNG Limited, there is still uncertainty as to when the shareholders will take the final investment decision on the project.

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, which is one of the shareholders, said in July last year that the FID for the project was expected to be taken in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The NLNG Train 7 expansion project aims to increase the company’s production capacity from 22 metric tonnes per annum to over 30 MTPA by upgrading Trains 1-6 and adding of train 7 and associated infrastructure at an estimated cost of $4.3bn, according to a statement by the NNPC.

When contacted to find out why the FID had not been taken, the Manager, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, NLNG, Mr Andy Odeh, noted that the contract for FEED was awarded to two consortia in July 2018.

“The consortia continue to make excellent progress as the design programmes are being executed on schedule and in line with NLNG’s demand for the highest standards of safety and quality,” he said in an emailed response to questions.

According to him, the FEED work is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019.

He said, “The NLNG is fully focused on achieving other pre-conditions, which will eventually lead to Final Investment Decision and the success of the project.”

FEED is the basic engineering conducted after the completion of conceptual design or feasibility study.

Our correspondent gathered that FEED work takes about one year in case of a large-sized project such as an LNG plant.

Odeh said after FID on the Train 7 project, construction period would last approximately four to five years.

“We expect train 7 to be operational by 2024. Long-term contracts have been signed,” he added.

He described the global LNG market as dynamic with increasing competition from new supply sources as well as new opportunities in established and emerging markets.

Andy said, “The NLNG, with its track record and years of experience in the market, is well positioned to compete in the market with our deliberate commercial and operational strategies, which enables us to deliver volumes efficiently across the globe.

“Our focus has always been to be a global player and deliver our products at the optimal value around the world.”

He noted that the NLNG had participated in the domestic market through the supply of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, also known as cooking gas, since 2007.

The NLNG spokesman said, “We currently supply over 50 per cent of the LPG volumes of cooking in Nigeria. Our vision of helping to build a better Nigeria remains intact and we will continue to explore opportunities to further deepen the use of LPG in Nigeria by making the product available to the market.

“The NLNG is also looking at options of increasing its footprints in the domestic market in line with the Federal Government’s aspiration on gas-based industrialisation in Nigeria.”

The company is jointly owned by the NNPC (49 per cent), Shell (25.6 per cent), Total (15 per cent) and Eni (10.4 per cent).

PFAs pays retirees N68.1b in Q3

Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) have paid N68.17 billion lump sum to retirees as at Third Quarter, 2018, a report by the National Pension Commission (PenCom) has shown.

In the report titled, PenCom Third Quarter, 2018, the commission said a total of N3 billion was paid in the period under review.

The commission disclosed that it approved a total of 2,831 applications for retirement under life annuity during the quarter.

This, it stated, brings the total number of retirees receiving their retirement benefits through the annuity plan to 57,302.

The commission also said the 2,831 retirees received N1.7 billion as lump sum payment and paid premium of N16.04 billion to insurance companies.

Meanwhile, the total number of retirees currently receiving their pensions under the Programmed Withdrawal (PW) contracts increased by 3.49 percent from 185,092 in the previous quarter to 191,556 in the third quarter of 2018.

A  sectorial breakdown shows that 66.01 percent of those that received pension under the PW were from the public sector while retirees from the private sector accounted for the remaining 33.99 per cent.

During the quarter under review, the sum of N15.23 billion was paid to 6,464 retirees as lump sum and N367 million as monthly programmed withdrawals.