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Analyzing Wema Bank’s Decision to Right Issue in Q3, Off Rating Watch List

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By Niyi Jacobs, Editor

Spotlight on Wema Bank Financial Position

Wema Bank Plc plans to boost its capital position with a right issue in the third quarter of the financial year 2021.

BUSINESS EDITOR, NIYI JACOBS, in this analysis writes on this  decision which may removes the bank from Fitch’s Rating Watch negative list.

Wema Bank Plc closed at 55 Kobo per share on Friday, currently valued below N22 billion on 33.57 billion outstanding shares on the Nigerian Exchange. That means to raise N10 billion, the lender would probably need to issue 20 billion shares.

Recently, Fitch Ratings affirmed the lender’s Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B-‘ or highly speculative and removed it from Rating Watch Negative (RWN) last month with a stable outlook. It said the removal of the RWN on Wema’s IDRs, Viability Rating (VR) and National Ratings reflects Fitch’s expectation that, having recently received shareholder approval, plans for a significant rights issue in 3Q-2021 will likely proceed as intended and improve capitalisation and leverage to more acceptable levels”.

The rating agency said this also reflects a view that loan and asset growth will evolve at a slower pace than in recent years and near-term risks to the bank’s financial profile from the economic fallout of the pandemic have receded. It added that the stable outlook on Wema’s Long-Term IDR reflects view that the current rating has sufficient headroom to absorb moderate shocks from sustained downside risks to the operating environment over the next 12-18 months.

Meanwhile, lender’s IDRs and National Ratings were driven by its stand alone credit worthiness, as expressed by its ‘b-‘ VR.Fitch said the VR considers the concentration of the bank’s activities within Nigeria’s challenging operating environment, a small franchise, high credit concentrations and a weak funding profile.In addition, it also considers easing pressures on asset quality and profitability from the economic fallout of the pandemic and our expectation of a material improvement in capitalisation and leverage following the rights issue. “Capitalisation and leverage have weakened significantly in recent years as a result of an aggressive growth strategy, with the tangible leverage ratio declining to 4% at end-Q1-2021 from 7.6% at end of 2017, which is weaker than peers’.

Wema’s Fitch Core Capital ratio printed 14.4% at end of Q1-2021, broadly in line with peers’ but is considered in view of the bank’s particularly low risk-weight density at 27% at end of Q1-2021.The rating explained that Wema’s capital adequacy ratio of 14.8% at end of Q1-2021, which is supported by Tier 2-qualifying subordinated debt, is comfortably above the 10% minimum requirement for a bank with a national license.“The removal of the RWN mainly reflects our view that the large rights issue planned for Q3-2021 will likely proceed as intended and will significantly improve the tangible leverage ratio to over 7%, which is more consistent with peers’.

“This follows the recent approval of the resolution to raise additional capital at the annual general meeting, commitment from the largest shareholders to participate in the rights issue, and the commencement of the regulatory approval process”, the ratings said.Wema’s impaired loans -stage 3 loans under IFRS 9 – ratio increased moderately to 5.2% at end-2020 from 3% at end-2019 as a result of the pandemic.Also, Stage 2 loans also increased to 9.8% of gross loans at end-2020 from 5% at end-2020.

The bank’s impaired loans ratio declined to 3.8% and stage 2 loans declined to 6.5% of gross loans at end-Q1-2021 owing to customer repayments due to a recovery in economic activity.

Fitch said although the overwhelming majority of customers are making principal repayments following the expiry of most debt relief measures at end of Q1-2021, loan quality remains under pressure as a high percentage of gross loans (46% on a cumulative basis at end-Q1-2021) have been restructured since the start of the pandemic.The ratings noted that specific coverage of impaired loans which printed at 38% at end of Q1-2021 is fairly low due to continued recovery expectations and sound coverage by collateral. “Single-borrower concentration is significantly higher than peers’, with the 20-largest customer exposures equivalent to 39% of gross loans at end-2020”, Fitch said.

However, the rating agency added that exposure to the problematic oil and gas sector is lower, representing 17% of gross loans and exposure to the riskier upstream segment is limited.Foreign-currency lending which accounted for 11% of gross loans at end-2020 is also distinctly lower than peers’, which results in less exposure to foreign currency shortage and naira devaluation risks. “Our asset-quality assessment also considers substantial non-loan assets (64% of total assets at end of Q1-2021) that largely comprise Nigeria sovereign fixed-income securities and cash reserves at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)”.

Fitch said Wema Bank profitability metrics tend to be considerably lower than those of larger peers, with operating returns on risk-weighted assets averaging 2.1% over the past four years, due to weaker net interest margins (NIMs) and a high cost-to-income ratio. “Weaker NIMs are explained by a greater reliance on more expensive term-deposit funding, whereas the high cost-to-income ratio is a function of weak revenue generation, investments in marketing and digitisation, and high regulatory costs applicable to all Nigerian banks”, it added.

Lender’s operating returns on risk-weighted assets declined to 1.7% in 2020 from 2.6% in 2019, largely reflecting a material reduction in trading income from the high levels experienced in 2019. Wema’s NIM remained broadly stable at 5.9% in 2020, with the fall in sovereign fixed-income yields and increased cash reserves at the CBN being offset by a material decline in cost of funding.Loan impairment charges, which equalled 1.2% of average gross loans in 2020, were fairly contained as a result of strong collateral underpinning newly-classified impaired loans.

Operating returns on risk-weighted assets recovered to 2.2% in Q1-2021 as a result of a significant decline in loan impairment charges.Fitch concluded that Wema’s National Ratings reflect the bank’s creditworthiness relative to that of other issuers in Nigeria. “They are at the lower end of the Nigerian national scale, primarily reflecting Wema’s small franchise, constrained profitability, adequate leverage following the rights issue and a weak funding profile”, it noted.

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CIBN President, Olugbemi Says eNaira Will Deepen Financial Inclusion

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CIBN President Says eNaira Will Deepen Financial Inclusion

“Equally worthy of note is the improvement, though slight, being witnessed in the exchange rate of the Naira

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Dr. Bayo Olugbemi has commended the introduction of the country’s first digital currency, eNaira, saying it was part of measures to deepen financial inclusion and integrate millions of unbanked Nigerians into the banking system.

Dr. Olugbemi, who spoke at the 56th Annual Bankers Dinner of the institute, noted that while the modality for the operation of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is being finetuned, the launch of the electronic currency was a step in the right direction.

He commended CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele for the innovative introduction of eNaira, saying” I have no doubt in my mind that it is a welcome development and a step in the right direction.

“Equally worthy of note is the improvement, though slight, being witnessed in the exchange rate of the Naira. I wish to call for its sustenance. We are certainly working in interesting times with global growth rate at its lowest and traditional norms being challenged on a daily basis.”

Olugbemi, who was attending his last CIBN dinner as the president of the institute as he would be handing over the mantle of leadership of the institute by May 2022, noted that his tenure builds “on the solid foundation laid by our predecessors, rooted in the tradition of constantly leaning forward into the future.

He thanks members of the Institute for their support in the implementation of the A-TEAM Agenda of his administration. “I want to assure you that the Institute will continue to devote its resources to the development of competencies whilst strengthening observance of ethics and professionalism in the banking industry.

He said traditionally, the Annual Bankers Dinner is the “CBN Governor’s Day” because it affords stakeholders’ the rare privilege of interacting and listening to Mr. Governor as he examines critical issues and fundamentals which have affected the banking industry within the year.

In his keynote address, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele who was the Special Guest of Honour stated that “In less than 4 weeks since its launch, almost 600,000 downloads of the e-Naira application have taken place. “Efforts are ongoing to encourage faster adoption of the e-Naira by Nigerians who do not have smartphones.

“The support of the financial industry will be critical in the ongoing deployment of the e-Naira and efforts are ongoing to encourage continued partnership between the CBN and stakeholders in the financial industry,’’ he said.

The CBN governor noted that building a robust payment system that would provide cheap, efficient, and faster means of conducting payments for most Nigerians have always been the focus of the apex bank.

Emefiele said that total transaction volumes using digital channels more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, as volumes rose from 1.3 billion to over 3.3 billion financial transactions in 2020.

He said that Digital payment channels also helped to support the continued conduct of business activities during the lockdown.

He said the banking sector’s robust payment system has continued to evolve towards meeting the needs of households and businesses in Nigeria, reflective of the confidence in our payment system, indicating that between 2015 and September 2021, about US$900 million has been invested in firms run by Nigerian founders.

Mr. Emefiele also stated that the policies created to ensure stability in the exchange rate saw more transactions flowing through the official Investors & Exporters FX window (I&E FX Window) which raised its average daily Fx turnover to $250 million from $40 million in April 2020.

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu in his remarks stated that bankers “must ensure that the fundamental economic indicators, both micro and macro, of our economy, are a true reflection of what the realities are in the various sectors of the economy.”

Sanwo-Olu said, “We will certainly need to review the traditional economic and monetary models in the face of changing realities and the desire to achieve maximum impact and outcome vis a vis our policy objectives.

“But even as we do this, we must never lose sight of our primary mandates as institutions and organizations. He said the fund’s banks deploy must create jobs, boost exports, build capacity, and guarantee prosperity for significant numbers of our population.

The Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, and Chairman North Central Governors Forum used the forum to donate a facility in Minna, the state capital to the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Nigeria (CIBN) to serve as the North Central Regional Office in other to strengthen the relationship between the Banking industry in Nigeria and the North Central part of the country.

Highlights of the event was the presentation of the various awards to Next Generation Class of 2021 which recognizes a class of young bankers who are excelling and have contributed exceptionally to the industry and economy with your institution; X-factor Award which recognizes a leading female banker breaking the glass ceiling and inspiring a more gender-inclusive Industry was awarded to OlaronkeKing; Affiliated of the year Award which recognizes an industry affiliate/agent whose performance has enhanced the Industry’s goal of financial inclusion was Award to Paystack Payments Limited; Next Generation Customer Award which recognizes a business in an identified strategic sector that has been catalyzed by the industry’s support was awarded to Faith Agro and the COVID-19 Response Banker of The Year Award which recognizes employees that innovatively stepped up beyond the call of duty in the fight against Covid-19, to ensure business continuity despite the scourge of the pandemic was jointly awarded to Ameachi Okobi of Access Bank and Dr. Segun Oghuan of FBN Ltd

The Group Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank Plc, Mr. Ademola Adebise served as the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the event.

The Annual Bankers Dinner had in physical attendance Commissioner’s of Finance and Budget and planning of various states, Chairmen of Banks, British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, President, IoD; Deputy Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria; President of Professional Bodies; Director-General, SEC and his Commissioners; MD/CEOs of banks; Past Presidents and Registrars of the Institute, Diplomats, Captains of Industries, Business leaders, and financial analysts.

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2021 NCOY: FirstBank Partners Junior Achievement Nigeria, Reiterates Commitment To Innovation, Education

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*894# USSD

2021 NCOY: FIRSTBANK PARTNERS JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT NIGERIA, REITERATES COMMITMENT TO INNOVATION AND EDUCATION

Olushola Okunlade Writes

For 11 years, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has partnered with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) to host its annual flagship event.

The National Company of the Year competition (NCOY), which convenes winners of the JA Company Regional Competitions across Nigeria to compete for the National Company of the Year Award.

This year, the event will bring together outstanding ‘student business teams’ across Nigeria to compete for prizes and an opportunity to represent the country at the national competition – the JA African Company of the Year Competition (ACOY). The 2021 edition of the NCOY competition will be held virtually via Zoom meetings at 10 am on Saturday, 27th November 2021. 

Interested participants are to register via the link https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEtd-qvqz4pE90NXOHcy-tve6aEXpY_yYAE

The competition themed ‘Innovation with Grit’ will have 12 teams from 12 schools pitch their innovations to a team of 5 guests judges. The schools at the competition are ‘The Seer company from Alvana High School; Sonic Informatics company from Heritage Global Academy; Nexus Queens company from Queens School; JA Stars from Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN); Amazing Amazon Students from Government Girls’ Secondary School, Abaji; KereTerra Company from Secondary School Etoi, Uyo and The Exploit thinkers from Taidob College’.

Other teams competing include: Mystic Global Company from Rosa Mystica High School, Agulu;  PetraMech Tech from Petra Schools; The Amazing Inventors from Government Secondary School Tudun Wada; Blue crystal company from Methodist Girls school and the Artisans from Igbobi College.

Judges at the event include: Oludolapo Adigun, Group Head, Retail Banking Lagos & West First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Chidimma Juliana Okparah, Project Management Consultant (PMIEF); Sheila Ojei, Head of Communications Jobberman;  Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative and Simbo Olatoregun, Policy Programs Manager for Facebook in Africa. In attendance also is the Honourable Commissioner for Education Lagos State, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo as a Special Guest.

The 2021 National Company of the Year Program will also feature SPARK Competition. SPARK as an initiative of First Bank of Nigeria Limited is an acronym for Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness. SPARK reiterates the Bank’s commitment to institutionalise kindness in Nigeria by encouraging and amplifying a culture of kindness.

The SPARK competition will feature 15 finalist schools across Nigeria, whose CSR projects align with the Bank’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability pillars of Education, Welfare and Health, Financial inclusion, and Responsible Lending and Procurement.

Speaking on the event, the Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney said “FirstBank’s partnership under its Future First initiative with JA Nigeria Company programme has positively impacted over 100,000 people in different locations across the country in preparing and teaching them how to generate wealth, effectively manage it and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Our commitment to fostering entrepreneurial development amongst youths is mainly the driving force behind our support of the National Company of the Year (NCOY) and Africa Company of the Year (ACOY) competitions in past 11 years”.

According to the Executive Director, JAN, “the National Company of the Year Company competition provides our students with a platform to show how innovative they are while displaying their dexterity and grit especially as it relates to creating sustainable business solutions to problems in their immediate community. The students have learned critical skills during the implementation of the Company Programme and we are proud to celebrate them as they compete in the National competition. I would like to specially appreciate FirstBank Nigeria for its continued support and belief in the boundless potential of young Nigerians’’.

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FirstBank Backs Ladies Lounge, A Lifestyle Programme To Nurture Ladies In Relationship

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FirstBank Backs Ladies Lounge, A Lifestyle Programme To Nurture Ladies In Relationship

Olushola Okunlade Writes

FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, has backed Ladies Lounge Podcast, a lifestyle programme to nurture ladies in a relationship, marriage and career.

Ladies Lounge is a female lifestyle programme, which covers happenings around relationships, marriage and family. It targets evolving relationships issues, memories, challenges, and knowledge-seeking demographics with the aim of forging ahead and giving life a good start.

This programme per season would spread into carefully researched and crafted segments, capable of drawing interaction and adequately attempting to proffer knowledge to the public on relationship, marriage, and family issues.

Stay tuned as you join Ladies Lounge podcast every Friday with MOO and friends.

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