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The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday confirmed that their 2020 Spring Meetings slated for April 17 to April 19 in Washington DC would now hold in “virtual format’’.

What this means is that instead of delegates converging physically in Washington, they would now link up from their various locations through video, audio and text channels.

The announcement came in a joint statement signed by President of the World Bank Group, Mr David Malpass, and the Managing Director of IMF, Mrs Kristalina Georgieva.

Malpass and Georgieva hinged the decision on concerns about the fast-spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the “human tragedy surrounding it’’.

Held at the World Bank and IMF headquarters in the U.S capital, the spring meetings usually brought together government officials, business leaders, representatives civil society, journalists and observers from around the world.

“Given growing health concerns related to the virus, the management of the IMF and world bank group and their Executive Boards have agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-World Bank spring meetings to a virtual format.

“ Our goal is to serve our membership effectively, while ensuring the health and safety of spring meetings participants and staff.

“We remain fully committed to maintaining a productive dialogue with our stakeholders and will leverage our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest, to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership.

“We will also continue to share IMF and World Bank analyses.

“With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage on pressing global economic issues at these spring meetings,” they said.

Consequently, registration for all categories of participants had been suspended and all previous confirmations cancelled, the IMF said in a mail to intending participants.

“Official delegates who will participate in the official sessions will receive further instructions from the Secretary and from the office of their Executive Director of the respective institutions,’’ it added.

Two African countries, Senegal and Tunisia have confirmed cases of the deadly Coronavirus.

Senegal’s Health Minister, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, said on Monday that the country has confirmed its first case of coronavirus.

The patient is a French man who lives in Senegal and flew back from France on 26 February, Mr Sarr told a press conference in the capital, Dakar.

The patient reported to a private hospital on 27 February with symptoms, including a headache.

The authorities are monitoring everyone who travelled on the same flight as well as the patient’s family.

The minister said the country was prepared to deal with the virus, pointing out that Senegal had the facilities to test for the coronavirus.

This is the second case in sub-Saharan Africa after one was confirmed in Nigeria last week, BBC reports.

Also, Tunisia confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus, the country’s health minister told journalists on Monday.

Abdelatif el-Maki said the patient was a 40-year-old Tunisian man, who arrived in the country by boat from Italy on 27 February.

He and the other passengers had been advised to monitor themselves. When his fever spiked, he contacted emergency services.

In Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Senrgal and Nigeria have all confirmed cases of the virus.

Four new patients have died from COVID-19, in the Seattle area of Washington State in the United States, bringing the total deaths to six.
 
Public health officials near Seattle reported the nation’s first two deaths in a nearby suburb and several new cases over the weekend.
 
Local officials also said that about 50 residents and employees of a nursing care facility were being tested for the new coronavirus after several people there tested positive.
 
“Unfortunately, we are starting to find more COVID-19 cases here in Washington that appear to be acquired locally here in Washington,” Washington state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy told reporters at a press conference.
 
“We now know that the virus is actively spreading in some communities.”
 
Washington state currently has 18 cases, 14 of which are in King County where the nursing facility is located and four in Snohomish County, she said.
Nigeria’s biggest food company by market value, Nestle Nigeria Plc has reported a 6% leap in its after-tax profit for Full Year 2019.
 
This and other details are contained in its Annual Report and Financial Statements 31 December 2019 posted on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange today.
 
Nestle’s Revenue appreciated by 6.7%, climbing from N266.275 billion at FY2018 to N284.035 billion in the relative period of 2019.
 
Profit Before Income Tax (PBIT) jumped from N59.791 billion at FY2018 to N71.124 billion at FY2019, implying a 19% growth.
 
Nestle’s Profit for the year expanded by 6.2% from N43.008 at FY2018 to N45.683 billion in the same period last year.
 
Earnings Per Share (EPS) grew from N54.26 at FY2018 to N57.63 at FY2019, translating to a 6.2% increase.
 
Despite the largely impressive result, Nestle’s operational efficiency worsened slightly in between the periods particularly its Marketing and Distribution Expenses, which ramped up from N43.490 billion at FY2018 to N46.077 billion in the period under review.
 
Management should contemplate reducing its expenditure in this area in order to post better results in the years ahead.
 
Also remarkable is the expansion in Nestle’s Total Assets from N162.334 billion at FY2018 to N193.374 billion in the equivalent period of 2019, translating to 19.1%.
 
However, Total Equity plunged by 9.2%, falling from N50.220 billion at FY2018 to N45.558 billion at FY2019.
 
In view of the generally commendable result, the Nestle hierarchy is proposing a final dividend payment of N45 per share subject to shareholders’ approval.
 
The final dividend brings the total dividend declared by Nestle for FY2019 to N70 given that it had earlier declared an interim dividend of N25 per share last year.
 
With outstanding shares of 792,656,252, its market capitalisation is currently in the neighbourhood of N895.702 billion.
 
Nestle’s dividend yield is 6.24% while its Price to Earnings (PE) ratio is 17.65. According to Simply Wall Street, Nestle is trading above its fair value.
 
Nestle opened trade today on the floor of the NSE at N1,130 per share
 
Earnings Per Share is the profit that each unit of a company’s ordinary shares  yields  during a particular period. It is simply calculated by dividing the Profit After Tax by the company’s total outstanding shares.  Increase in a company’s EPS often reflects an improvement in its bottom-line while a fall, on the other hand, indicates a declining profit.
Guaranty Trust Bank PLC (GTB) has declared it recorded a 6.6% expansion in its after-tax profit for Full Year 2019.
 
This it was able to achieve in spite of the marginal increase in its revenue in the period under review compared to the figure it posted at FY2018.
 
The comprehensive account of the lender’s performance is contained in GTB’s December 2019 Audited Group Financial Statements, released by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) today.
 
Revenue rose from N434.699 billion at FY2018 to N435.307 billion at FY2019, signalling a 0.14% increase.
 
GTB’s Net Interest Income appreciated by 4%, leaping from N222.434 billion at FY2018 to N231.363 billion in the corresponding period of 2019.
 
Net Fee and Commission Income climbed to N59.444 billion in the period under review from N50.470 billion at FY2018, translating to a 17.8% growth.
 
The Profit Before Income Tax (PBIT) of GTB advanced to N231.708 billion at FY 019 from N215.587 billion at FY2018, representing a 7.5% increase.
 
Profit for the Year leapt by 6.6%, moving from N184.711 billion at FY2018 to N196.849 billion at FY2019.
 
GTB’s Earnings Per Share (EPS) similarly responded to the positive drift, rising by 6.4% from N6.54 at FY2018 to N6.96 at FY2019.
 
Its Total Assets enlarged by 14.3% from N3.287 trillion at FY2018 to N3.759 trillion at FY2019.
 
Total Equity rose from N576.277 billion at FY2018 to N687.337 billion in the review period, translating to a growth of 19.3%.
 
The board of GTB is proposing a final dividend of N2.50 per share subject to shareholders’ approval.
 
GTB opened trade on the floor of the NSE today at N26.40 per share.
 
It is noteworthy that the new dividend declaration brings to N2.80 the total dividend payout by the bank for FY2019 to N2.80 considering that it had earlier paid an interim dividend of N0.30 per share last year.
 
With outstanding shares of 29,431,179,224, its market capitalisation stands at over N700.462 billion as of today.
 
Its dividend yield is 12.31% while its Price to Earnings (PE) ratio is 3.30.
 
Earnings Per Share is the profit that each unit of a company’s ordinary shares  yields  during a particular period. It is simply calculated by dividing the Profit After Tax by the company’s total outstanding shares.  Increase in a company’s EPS often reflects an improvement in its bottom-line while a fall, on the other hand, indicates a declining profit.

The Nigerian Senate President, Sen. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, has applauded Governor Udom Emmanuel on his approach to governance and national development, describing him as the face of the new Nigerian politician. Senator Lawan gave the commendation while speaking at the 60th birthday anniversary celebration and thanksgiving service of Senator Akon Eyakenyi, representative of Akwa Ibom South senatorial district at Destiny International Mission, Uyo, on Sunday. He described Governor Emmanuel as a very decent person, a tolerant leader and a purpose driven administrator who would work across party lines to achieve development objectives. He said the governor is one of Nigeria’s leaders to look up to as he fits into the country’s desired new political dispensation. “I want to say something about his Excellency, the Governor [Udom Emmanuel]. As a politician, he is a decent man, very decent; as a practicing politician, he is a very tolerant leader. “Here is one elected leader who believes we should all work together to deliver service to Nigerians. Your Excellency I commend you”. Senator Lawan stated that politics of the new Nigeria, which the 9th Senate stands for, is defined to a large extent, by how to reach a desired destination in service delivery, devoid of partisanship and rancour. “Governor Emmanuel represents such a new dispensation”. He said, pointing out that the large turnout of senators at the event, irrespective of party affiliations, is a testimony to the sense of comradeship among the Akwa Ibom contingent in the Senate. He thanked the people of Akwa Ibom state for sustaining the qualitative leadership. In his remarks, Governor Emmanuel thanked the Senate President for leading distinguished senators to celebrate with their colleague, Senator Akon Eyakeyin. He acknowledged the wide acceptance of the Senate leadership, headed by Dr. Ahmad Lawan and described the 9th assembly as one of the most peaceful in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.

The Dangote Group on Saturday said its $2 billion Granulated Urea Fertiliser plant, the biggest in the world, located at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos would begin operation in May.

Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Group, said this when he led the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, on a tour of the Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals and Fertiliser projects.

Dangote said a pre-testing of the fertiliser plant had already begun, adding that the project would be the largest fertiliser plant in the world with its three million tonnes per annum capacity.

He said it would make Nigeria the only Urea exporting country in Sub-Saharan Africa, adding that the fertiliser and petrochemicals plants were capable of generating $2.5 billion annually.

According to him, the amount is almost 10 per cent of what Nigeria is getting from home remittances, which is one of the highest in the world.

Dangote also disclosed that the refinery project, which was 48 per cent completed, would make Nigeria the largest exporter of petroleum products in Africa.

”One of the reasons the CBN is supporting us is that by the time we become operational, we will not only be creating jobs, but we will reduce the outflow of foreign exchange; not only in petroleum products, but in petrochemicals and fertilisers.

“We will be one of the highest foreign exchange generating companies going forward.

“I must really confess that without the government’s support, there is no way we could have done what we have done so far.

“I think we must thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his policies. I thank the CBN governor and management for bringing down interest rates to encourage more entrepreneurs to go into mega projects like this.

“We should not wait for foreign investors to come and develop our economy.

“It will never happen. So we have to do it ourselves and the only way to do it is to take advantage of the low interest rates, and the banks being forced to loan money out.”

Emefiele, commended the Dangote Group for its commitment toward bringing the project on stream as planned and expressed satisfaction with the facilities on site.

“The reason that I am here today is to see what is going on on site.

“This time that the economy is going through its own challenges, there is need for us to diversify the Nigerian economy from oil to other areas where we have abundant resources. ”

Emefiele said the fertiliser plant would stop importation of fertilisers, as about 25 per cent of its products would be used for domestic consumption to boost agriculture in the country.

According to him, the plant will also generate a minimum of $750 million through export annually.

“The 650,000BPD-capacity refinery, when operational, will not only satisfy local consumption but will also position Nigeria as a major exporter of petroleum products.

“Nigeria is so central, and this refinery will serve almost the whole of Africa, which will lead to cheap cost of freight.

“This project is so strategically positioned that it will even make the final price of petroleum within Nigeria and even outside Nigeria to be lower than those imported outside the African continent.

“We need to encourage other Nigerians and we will keep saying this, Nigerians must stand tall and be ready to come out and support their country,” the CBN governor said.

He disclosed that apart from the low interest rate regime, the government was also putting other policies in place to rejuvenate industries and create employment opportunities for the citizenry.

“This is the time for other Nigerians who have been making money in services to come out and join Dangote to help us grow the economy because government alone cannot grow the economy

“We will want to support any Nigerian or foreigner who finds Nigeria as a good investment destination. Whatever we need to do to help you, we will do it.

“That is why we are forcing the banks today that they must do what is right by lending to credible persons and act as catalyst to our economic development,” Emefiele said.

Health officials in US State of Washington said late Sunday that a nursing home resident had died after contracting coronavirus, while New York’s governor confirmed his state’s first positive case.
 
The coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year, has decimated global markets as it quickly moves around the world. It appeared poised for a spike in the United States, in part because of more testing to confirm cases.
 
Florida late Sunday declared a public health emergency as it confirmed its first two cases.
 
Trump administration officials worked Sunday to soothe nerves and calm fears that a global recession was looming, arguing that the public and media were over-reacting and saying that stocks would bounce back because the American economy was fundamentally strong.
 
The total number of confirmed cases in the United States is more than 75.
 
Globally there have been more than 87,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths in 60 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
 
In the United States, a cluster of cases is centered on a nursing home near Seattle.
 
The Seattle and King County public health department confirmed late Sunday that a man in his 70s who was a resident of the LifeCare long-term care facility in Kirkland and had coronavirus had died the day before.
 
On Saturday, the department had reported the first death of a coronavirus patient in the United States, a man in his 50s who was living in Kirkland – the same city where the nursing home is located. Six of the 10 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state have been residents or workers at LifeCare.
 
State officials said an additional 27 residents of the nursing home and 25 staff members were reporting symptoms of the virus, which can be similar to that of the common flu.
 
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed on Twitter his state’s first coronavirus case, a woman in her 30s who caught the virus during a recent trip to Iran and was now in home quarantine.
 
Cuomo did not say where the woman lived, but the New York Times reported she was in the Manhattan borough of New York City, citing state officials.
 
“The patient has respiratory symptoms, but is not in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving in New York,” Cuomo said.
 
Stock markets plunged last week, with an index of global stocks setting its largest weekly fall since the 2008 financial crisis, and more than $5 trillion wiped off the value of stocks worldwide.
 
A key energy conference in Houston that brings together oil ministers and energy firms was canceled on Sunday with the organizers of CERAWeek noting that border health checks were becoming more restrictive and companies had begun barring non-essential travel to protect workers.
 
A world economy conference with Pope Francis due to take place in Italy later this month was also canceled.
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