Nigeria has contributed 97 out of the 360 companies listed in the second edition of the London Stock Exchange Group’s Companies to Inspire Africa report.
 
The report, which identifies 360 companies in 32 countries in Africa, was launched on Wednesday with Kenya also contributing 66 companies.
 
“Nigeria further built on its leading position established in the 2017 report with strong representation from the industry and technology and telecoms sectors,” the LSEG said in an emailed statement.
 
The report, with seven major sectors represented, featured companies including small entrepreneurial businesses to well-established corporations.
 
According to the report, consumer services, industry and agriculture are the three biggest sectors, contributing over 50 per cent of the companies featured, while technology and telecoms, and financial services together represent over 25 per cent of firms.
 
Healthcare and education and renewable energy also featured strongly.
 
Some of the Nigerian firms listed are Kian Smith Trade & Co Limited, which is building the country’s first gold refinery; FSDH Merchant Bank Limited; Ladol Integrated Logistics Free Zone Enterprise; Jumia; Asharami Synergy Plc, BudgIT Foundation; Interswitch Limited; Ensure Insurance Plc; Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University; North South Power Company Plc; Leadway Assurance Company Limited; Farmcrowdy Limited and Venia Group.
 
According to the Chief Executive Officer, LSEG, David Schwimmer, the firms listed in last year’s report had already realised significant progress and achievements in the last 12 months in a variety of ways, including pursuing IPOs and issuing bonds to grow, while some had also undertaken cross-border expansion, both within the African continent and globally.
 
Schwimmer said: “London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘Companies to Inspire Africa’ report showcases inspirational and entrepreneurial businesses from across the African continent, representing a wide variety of industries and countries. It is particularly encouraging to see the increasing influence of women in leadership roles in these fast-growing companies, playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of African business.
 
“These high-growth companies have the potential to transform the African economy and become tomorrow’s job creators. At LSEG, we are committed to helping companies realise that potential and we are pleased to highlight and celebrate the company success stories behind one of the world’s fastest growing markets.”
 
The report was produced in partnership with African Development Bank Group, CDC Group, PwC and Asoko Insight, and the report is sponsored by Instinctif Partners and Stephenson Harwood.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
The pound edged down Wednesday after the record defeat of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan but mostly held its ground as investors consider the next likely developments in the long-running saga.
 
The sterling tanked to a near two-year low soon after the government’s proposal on leaving the European Union was soundly beaten Tuesday evening, but it soon bounced back as traders bet there would not be a “no-deal” exit.
 
And while it was slightly lower in Asia, the pound managed to avoid the sort of pummelling many had predicted, and analysts say the positive news is that the options for the future are narrowing.
 
With May expected to win a vote of no confidence called by the opposition Labour Party on Wednesday, talk will move to what happens next.
 
Analysts say May could ask to delay Britain’s March 29 exit from the bloc as she looks for a more palatable agreement from her EU peers, while there is growing speculation of a general election and even another referendum.
 
“Momentum is shifting away from the harder Brexit route and towards a number of options ranging from postponement and second referendum. That is pound supportive,” said Gavin Friend at National Australia Bank.
 
But he added: “I don’t see the pound rallying much until markets are sure the (ruling) Conservatives have seen off the confidence motion.”
 
Meanwhile, London may still leave the bloc without a backup.
 
“We cannot ignore the fact that it takes very little effort for no-deal, whilst it takes a vast amount of effort to avoid it,” warned Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.
 
Asian equity markets mostly rose after Tuesday’s rally that was fuelled by Chinese plans to cut taxes in a bid to support the stuttering economy.
 
However, traders are growing increasingly worried about the lack of movement in the US over the government shutdown, which is now in its fourth week, with both sides digging their heels in.
 
Tokyo ended off 0.6 percent, but Hong Kong rose 0.2 percent to build on Tuesday’s two percent rally while Shanghai was flat.
 
Sydney and Seoul each rose 0.4 percent, while Singapore added 0.3 percent and Wellington put on 0.7 percent with Mumbai 0.2 percent higher.
 
Investors are now gearing up for the start of the corporate earnings season and some are concerned that the effects of recent soft economic data globally — as well as the China-US trade war — will begin to show up in accounts.
 
Key figures around 0710 GMT 
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2856 from $1.2871 at 2140 GMT
 
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6 percent at 20,442.75 (close)
 
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 26,980.43
 
Shanghai – Composite: FLAT at 2,570.42 (close)
 
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1408 from $1.1413
 
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.44 yen from 108.72
 
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP six cents at $52.17 per barrel
 
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 10 cents at $60.74 per barrel
 
New York – DOW: UP 0.7 percent at 24,065.59 (close)
 
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 6,895.02
 
 
Source: Channels
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has granted approvals in principle for the merger of Access and Diamond banks.
 
This was disclosed by the Executive Director, Personal Banking at Access Bank, Mr Victor Etuokwu in Lagos.
 
According to Etuokwu, the banks were awaiting the final approval which would be granted after convening shareholders meeting.
 
“So far, we have gotten approvals up to approval in principle. There are three approvals that we need for this process.
 
“The first one is the pre-order approval which is like the first approval, the next approval is the approval in principle.
 
“The final approval comes after approval in principle and it will come after you have convened your shareholders meetings,’’ Etuokwu said.
 
Etuokwu further disclosed that the banks would convene shareholders meetings in February, adding that the approval would be taken to court once approved by the shareholders.
 
Explaining that all the processes, including final approval would be completed in the next 60 days, Etuikwu said the new bank would remain committed to retail and corporate banking to drive financial inclusion for desired growth and development.
 
“We need to invest in retail market to drive economic growth, this is what the new bank will do, a strong corporate and a strong retail bank,’’ he said.
 
Speaking on the likelihood of staff retrenchment, Etuokwu said that members of staff would be retrained for different roles in case of overlapping.
 
“Staff will be retrained for new roles where there are overlaps, one of the branches can be converted to an e-branch or Automated Teller Machine (ATM) gallery,’’ he added.
 
 
Source: NAN
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed that loans granted to about 550,000 rice farmers in the country who were affected by the 2018 flooding be structured for another four years as a form of compensation.
 
This was disclosed by the National President of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Aminu Goronyo on Tuesday in Abuja.
 
Goronyo said: “Instead of paying the loan in three installments within a year, the loan will be restructured to be paid within four years now and be paid by installments.’’
 
Goronyo further said that only the affected farmers under the RIFAN/CBN/ABP model programme would benefit from the compensation, adding that the resolution was an outcome of a meeting with the Director, Developing Finances of CBN and RIFAN executive.
 
The RIFAN president, who said his association only championed the case of affected farmers under its care, expressed the hope that all the registered farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Programme that were affected would benefit from it.
 
The CBN, according to Goroyo, has also directed that a fresh loan should be given to the affected farmers so that they could go back to the field and recover their losses.
 
“RIFAN is working on the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Presidency and the CBN to compensate the victims as promised by President Mohammadu Buhari.
 
“RIFAN is also seeking assistance from the CBN to restructure the loans to alleviate the suffering of the affected farmers and make them go back to the field,’’ he said.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
Oil has rallied in the new year, with a nine-day run of gains for WTI, its best run since 2010.
Brent crude is also rallying, if those contracts close up today - a 10th consecutive session - it would be the futures' best streak for 30 years.
 
Traders have been buoyed by positive sentiment out of US-China trade war talks and efforts by Saudi Arabia and OPEC and others to stabilise markets, after plunging last month.
 
"The market [is] returning to some sort of order, having previously been out of whack," said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda.
Brent crude is up 0.6% by mid-morning on Friday.
 
The wobbles in stock markets have been grabbing all the attention lately, but meanwhile, oil is enjoying a stunning rally into the new year.
 
Oil traders are factoring in an improvement in US-China trade relations and continued efforts by OPEC and others to stabilise the market after a brutal end to last year.
 
Brent crude futures are now trading up for their 10th consecutive day, which would mark its best performance since the introduction of futures contracts in June 1988. This week's performance has seen Brent rise 8.4%, its best weekly gains for over two years as improved sentiment boosts the commodity's performance.
 
Fore WTI, the US benchmark, oil has risen 24% since hitting a low on Christmas eve.
 
"The macro drivers of prices has been the more dovish Federal Reserve and better news coming out of the US-China trade dispute," Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda, sadi in an interview. "The market is reading between the lines that any deal would boost China's economy and really improve demand."
 
US trade representatives were in China for talks earlier this week, which raised hopes of a trade deal that would have a positive impact on oil prices.
 
Similarly, last December's "OPEC+" summit in Vienna brought a round of supply cuts to the oil market, which are now finally being priced in amid a greater risk-on atmosphere. Despite that prices are still around 30% lower than their October highs.
 
Saudi Arabia's energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih, said that pledged reductions of 1.2 million barrels a day are "more than sufficient to balance the market." Data out of Saudi Arabia supports the proposed axe in supply and demonstrated a cut in exports to the US with inventory figures also broadly positive.
 
Investor sentiment has also been boosted by comments from the Federal Reserve. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Richard Clarida have said that the central bank will be cautious about pushing ahead with future rate hikes after raising interest rates four times last year.
 
Brent crude is trading up 0.6% by midmorning on Friday while WTI is up 0.9%.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have settled their differences over the $8.1 billion demanded by the apex bank, out of court.
 
The telecommunications company disclosed this on Thursday at the resumed sitting of the court in the suit it filed against the CBN.
 
The CBN had demanded that MTN pay the amount following alleged infractions in forex remittances.
 
MTN, through its lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), had approached the Federal High Court, Lagos, challenging the powers of the CBN and the Attorney General of the Federation to make the monetary demand from it and prayed the court to restrain them from coming after it.
 
The parties to the suit however on December 4, 2018, asked the court for time so that they could settle out of court.
 
Olanipekun, on Thursday informed the court that they have reached an agreement with the CBN. He also presented a document to the court, and said his client had finally reached an agreement with the CBN.
 
He prayed the court to adopt the document as the judgement of the court.
 
Mr Henry Ejiofor, who stood in for CBN’s lead counsel, Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN), confirmed the position, while the counsel for the AGF, Olanike Idenu, did not oppose the application by MTN and CBN but urged the court to strike out the name of the AGF from the suit.
 
In his judgement, Justice Saidu thanked the parties for saving the precious time of the court and sparing it the rigours of litigation and consequently struck out the name of the AGF from the suit and adopted the terms agreed upon by the parties as the judgment in the suit.
 
The terms of the agreement and out of court settlement have not been made public.
 
 
Source: The Cable
It is wise, from time to time, to stop and evaluate our lives as we seek to make the most of them.
 
The start of a new year provides a natural opportunity to look back and offers an extra push toward new adjustments going forward. That’s why New Year’s resolutions are so popular.
 
If you are looking for some changes in your financial circumstances, here are the ten best personal finance resolutions to consider. Choose just one or two to accomplish in 2019 and you’ll be surprised at the difference in your life:
 
The Ten Best Personal Finance Resolutions for 2019
 
1. Save $1,000. Less than 40% of Americans have one thousand dollars in savings, but almost every successful financial wellness plan available today includes the creation of a $1,000 Emergency Fund. Finding that much money overnight might be difficult. But if you can find $83/month to put away, you’ll complete this resolution by the end of the year… and be in better financial position than 60% of the country!
 
2. Make one extra payment (over the course of the year) on your mortgage. One extra monthly payment per year on your mortgage shortens the length of your loan by 4-5 years. You can spread this out over the course of the year or plan now to direct an expected windfall toward it (tax refund, year-end bonus, etc.).
 
3. Put money into retirement (any amount). Your year of retirement is now one year closer. That is true for every single one of us. But 78 percent of Americans, say they are extremely or somewhat concerned about not having enough money for retirement. There is only one way to change that—start saving. Even if it’s just a little. If you haven’t saved anything yet, find out this year how to open an account, put some money in, and begin directing a percentage toward it each month.
 
4. Embrace a 2-week Shopping Ban to challenge your shopping habits. Pick the dates, mark them now, and commit yourself to not spending a single dollar for two weeks (groceries may be a worthy exception). There’s no downside to the experiment—only upside. You’ll learn more about yourself, rethink your consumption habits, and save some money along the way.
 
5. Sell $250 worth of clutter. The premise is very simple. Turn your unwanted stuff into cash money. Free your home of clutter and build up savings along the way! Minimizing your stuff is a win-win—this is probably the biggest no-brainer on the entire list. If you’re looking for help knowing what to get rid, check out some of the suggestions offered in The Minimalist Home.
 
6. Remove 1/4 of your wardrobe. Decluttering can have a positive impact on our financial circumstances beyond the simple selling of clutter (as mentioned above). Decluttering also frees up space and creates a more healthy living environment. It can change our relationship with our stuff and our money. For example, a closet filled with only items you love, often results in greater contentment—and better control over your urges to accumulate. Additionally, getting ready in the morning is less stressful, allowing you to be productive during your day ahead. That’s always good for the bottom-line.
 
7. If you are a dual-income family, seek to save one spouses’ entire salary. One of the best pieces of financial advice I ever received was this one from a mentor just prior to my marriage, “If you and your wife are both working, determine to live on only one salary and put the entirety of the other person’s salary into savings.” We did exactly that—and set ourselves up for financial success at the very beginning. This resolution will take planning and won’t likely happen as soon as the calendar turns to January, but it is a goal you should choose to work toward in 2019.
 
8. Make a budget. No seriously, do it, this year. No more stalling. You’ve been told the importance of setting a budget since you were in high school (or maybe even younger). If you haven’t, do it now. No more putting it off. This is the year! If you’ve found traditional-style budgets don’t work for you, try something with a different approach, like a spending plan.
 
9. Invest money in the stock market. Buying stock is essentially the same as saying, “I trust that Jeff Bezos knows how to make money better than me.” And with new and free apps like Robin Hood with no minimums, getting started investing in companies you believe in has never been easier. Take any dollar amount (even as small as $10 or $20) and find a stock to invest in. You’ll learn a lot and likely grow your money in the process.
 
10. Become a recurring monthly giver to one charity. Most people with a beating heart want to live generous lives. We all desire to solve problems and support causes we believe in. For most people, the only thing keeping them back is they can’t seem to find the extra margin to do so. Stop waiting for excess money to be left at the end of the month to get started, Instead, decide to get started today—right now. Pick one charity and set yourself up as a recurring monthly giver—even if it’s just $2-$5 per month. Not only will you feel good solving problems in the world, the action will show you that you do have the margin to give.
 
Adopting all ten resolutions is almost certainly too much to ask. But choose one or two specifically that will help you and you can be passionate about. You’ll be surprised how quickly they make a difference in your outlook toward personal finance.
 
Joshua Becker is the Founder and Editor of Becoming Minimalist, a website that reaches 1+ million readers each month inspiring people to live more by owning less. He is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Simplify, The More of Less, and The Minimalist Home.
 
Forbes has rated Nigeria as 110th best place in the world to do business in 2019 out of 161 countries that were graded.
 
The country also comes 14th in Africa, behind South Africa (59), Morocco (62), Seychelles (66), Tunisia (82), Botswana (83), Rwanda (90), Kenya (93), Ghana (94), Egypt (95), Namibia (96), Senegal (100), Zambia (103) and Cape Verde (104).
 
The list is topped by United Kingdom (1), Sweden (2), Hong Kong (3), Netherlands (4), New Zealand (5) and Canada (6).
 
The United States of America comes in the 17th position below Ireland and Finland.
 
Forbes said on the criteria for the rating: “We gauged the best countries for business by rating nations on 15 different factors, including property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape and investor protection. Other metrics included were workforce, infrastructure, market size, quality of life and risk. Each category was equally weighted.
 
“The data is based on published reports from Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, Property Rights Alliance, United Nations, Transparency International, World Bank Group, Marsh & McLennan and World Economic Forum.”
 
Nigeria was rated 115 out of 153 assessed countries in the previous year with a GDP growth of -1.6 per cent and GDP per capita given as $2,200.
 
 
Source: NAN
The plunge in Apple Inc’s share price will cause new pain for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, after the conglomerate suffered a big quarterly decline in its net worth that will hit its bottom line.
 
Berkshire’s share price fell more than 4 percent on Thursday after Apple, its largest common stock investment, slashed its revenue forecast after demand fell in China and fewer customers upgraded their iPhones. Apple slid as much as 10 percent.
 
The Berkshire decline reflects Apple’s impact on the Omaha, Nebraska-based company’s book value, which measures assets minus liabilities and is a favored growth gauge for Buffett.
 
It followed a fourth-quarter slump in stock prices that may have already cost Berkshire 8.2 percent of its book value, according to Keefe Bruyette & Woods analyst Meyer Shields.
 
Much of Berkshire’s roughly $219 billion of equities as of Sept. 30, including its stake in Kraft Heinz Co, suffered double-digit declines in the quarter, when the S&P 500 .SPX including dividends fell 13.5 percent.
 
Among Berkshire’s 10 largest stock holdings, only Coca-Cola Co escaped the carnage, rising 2.5 percent. Shields said a 9 percent drop in Apple could reduce Berkshire’s book value another 0.74 percent.
 
Buffett’s assistant did not respond to an email concerning whether the billionaire’s view of Apple has changed.
 
Berkshire began investing in Apple in 2016. Buffett then ramped up the stake as he exited IBM Corp, an investment that had broken his usual aversion to technology stocks.
 
IBM proved mediocre. Yet while many investors consider Apple a technology stock, Buffett views it more as a consumer stock, reflecting the dependence of so many people on their iPhones.
 
He told shareholders at Berkshire’s annual meeting last May that he would “love to see Apple go down in price” so he could buy more.
 
Assuming Berkshire hasn’t sold any shares, the value of its 5.3 percent Apple stake had fallen below $36 billion on Thursday from $57.6 billion on Sept. 30.
 
A big drop in book value could push Berkshire to an overall fourth-quarter net loss, even if its dozens of operating businesses, including the BNSF railroad and Geico auto insurer, perform well.
 
Accounting rules require Berkshire to report unrealized investment losses with quarterly results, and Buffett has urged investors to ignore the resulting swings. It last posted a net loss in the first quarter of 2018.
 
Berkshire’s operating businesses provided a cushion during the global financial crisis in 2008, when book value fell just 9.6 percent. The S&P 500 including dividends fell 37 percent.
 
 
Source: Business Insider

The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced the resolution of its dispute with MTN Communications Limited, saying the company will now atone only for the illegal remittances on preference shares issued in 2008.

CBN’s spokesman and director of corporate communications announced the breakthrough in a statement published on the bank’s website on Monday.

The MTN also corroborated the truce in a statement simultaneously issued by MTN in Johannesburg.

According to the terms of settlement, the CBN instructed MTN Nigeria to implement a notional reversal of the 2008 private placement of shares in MTN Nigeria at a net cost of circa N19.2 billion – equivalent to US$52.6m (the notional reversal amount).

“This is on the basis that certain certificates of capital importation (CCIs) utilised in the private placement were not properly issued.

“MTN Nigeria and the CBN have agreed that they will resolve the matter on the basis that MTN Nigeria will pay the notional reversal amount without admission of liability”, MTN said.

“In terms of the resolution agreement, the CBN will regularise all the CCIs issued on the investment by shareholders of MTN Nigeria of circa $402,625,419 without regard to any historical disputes relating to those CCIs, thereby bringing to a final resolution all incidental disputes arising from this matter.

The CBN said four months ago that MTN should return to Nigerian coffers $8.1 billion repatriated between 2007 and 2015, because of capital importation certificate irregularities.

Four banks involved in the repatriation, Standard Bank, Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Citibank Nigeria and Diamond Bank Plc, were fined by the CBN.

Standard Chartered Bank was fined N2.47 billion, Stanbic IBTC, N1.88 billion, Citibank Nigeria, N1.26 billion and Diamond bank, N250 million.

Here is the statement by CBN:

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in August 2018 directed MTN Communications Limited (MTNN) to reverse repatriations valued at $8.1 billion done on its behalf by four commercial banks between 2007 and 2015 on the basis of Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs)
irregularly issued to MTNN.

Following the keen interest shown by various stakeholders sequel to the regulatory action, the CBN committed to engage further with MTNN with a view to achieving an equitable resolution.

Consequent upon the above, MTNN, led by its Nigerian shareholders, held intensive engagements with the CBN in the course of which it supplied additional material information, not previously offered to the Bank, satisfactorily clarifying its remittances. Having now reviewed
the additional documentation provided by the company, the CBN has concluded that MTNN is no longer required to reverse the historical dividend payments made to MTN Nigeria shareholders.

However, the CBN identified that the proceeds from the preference shares in MTNN’s private placement remittances of 2008 were irregular having been based on CCIs that were issued without the final approval of CBN.

The CBN and MTNN have mutually agreed that the aforementioned transaction be reversed notionally to bring it into full compliance with foreign exchange laws and regulations.

The parties have resolved that execution of the terms of the agreement will lead to amicable disposal of the pending legal suit between the parties and final resolution of the matter.

The CBN assures foreign investors that the integrity of the CCIs issued by authorised dealers remain sacrosanct. Potential investors are encouraged to take advantage of the enormous investment opportunities that abound within Nigeria.

The telecommunications giant still has another issue to resolve: the court suit over the demand by the attorney general for back taxes.

MTN assured its shareholders that it is also moving towards resolution of this problem.

“Shareholders are advised that the legal process initiated by MTN Nigeria for injunctive relief restraining the AGF from taking further action in respect of its orders for back taxes is continuing.

“The AGF matter came up for initial mention before the Federal High Court of Nigeria Lagos Judicial Division on 8 November 2018 and has been adjourned to 7 February 2019. MTN Nigeria continues to maintain that its tax matters are up to date and no additional payment, as claimed by the AGF, is due, and consequently no provisions or contingent liabilities are being raised in the accounts of MTN Nigeria for the AGF back taxes claim”, the company said.

The attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is demanding from the company the payment of N242 billion and 1.3 billion dollars, for import duties and withholding tax.


Source: PmNews

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