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Senate backs AMCON’s plan to publish debtors’ list

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L-R: Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions; Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr. Ahmed Kuru discussing during the Senate Committee retreat on the Amendment of the AMCON Act at the Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos on….Thursday
The Chairman Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim, has said that Nigeria can be made great again, if the legislature as a matter of urgency empowers the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to go after recalcitrant obligors. He said that is the only way AMCON can meet its mandate of achieving the tough mandate for which it was set up in 2010.

He said since AMCON over the past seven years have done its best to resolve these debts but are   still encountering resistance from obligor, the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the able leadership of Senator Dr. Olubukola Saraki, would have not option that to urge AMCON to compile and publish the list of all these debtors on major daily newspapers in the country. The move, he argued would place before Nigerians those who are holding the nation’s economy to ransom since they account for 80 per cent of AMCON’s N4.8trillion obligation.

The Senator, who spoke today at the opening of a 2-day retreat at Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos where they convened to discuss the all-important AMCON Act Amendment Bill, hinted that the Upper Chamber, as part of its oversight function, has decided that AMCON at this critical time in its lifespan must be given all the support it requires to perform as expected by all Nigerians. He however urged the Management of AMCON to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to propose that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces issues an Executive Order on seizure of assets of persons who are indebted to AMCON.

In a keynote address he delivered at the commencement of the retreat, Sen. Ibrahim said the upper chamber is intent on having serious discussions as soon as possible with major stakeholders such as the CBN, the FMF, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and relevant committees from the legislature among others, where issues hindering AMCON from performing optimally including the funding model of AMCON would be discussed to enable the recovery agency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria finish its assignment on a high.

According to him the Upper Chamber will at this stage bare its fangs by amending the AMCON Act because AMCON has been a key stabilizing and re-vitalizing tool in the Nigerian financial system and so will be supported by the legislature to enable the Corporation achieve its statutory objectives. He said the legislature therefore supports the proposed plan by AMCON to publish the list of especially the 350 obligors that accounts for nearly 80 per cent of the total huge debt of AMCON.

Earlier in his presentation, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, AMCON, Mr. Ahmed Kuru reminded the Senate Committee that the ramifications for failure by AMCON to recover its debt, principally owed to the CBN, cannot be quantified as it goes beyond economic cost. He disclosed that AMCON’s total debt obligation of N4.8trillion represents more than 55 per cent of the 2018 national budget. Given the current demands on the Federal Government therefore, Kuru said he is convinced that it is doubtful that the government can afford to expense AMCON’s debt in the short term.

It was for that reason, AMCON, after seven years of negotiating with the obligors with no commensurate recovery result, has decided to change its strategy, which now pays strict attention to enforcements as a way of compelling especially the recalcitrant obligors to come and pay up their debts. To achieve this however, Kuru said the Corporation will be heavily dependent on the legislature, most especially members of the committee to facilitate the amendment of the AMCON Act since most obligors of AMCON that are politically exposed and business heavyweights now employ different antics in law to tie the Corporation up in courts.

Further highlighting other challenges faced by the Corporation, the AMCON CEO, again said, “One of the major areas for amendment is the matter of vesting proprietary interest of all collateral assets acquired by AMCON from commercial banks. The proposed amendment will have retrospective effect. The vesting of proprietary interest of all collateral assets in the resolution vehicle was implemented in Malaysia and was instrumental to their success in recovering debt obligations.

“Our second challenge has to do with the disposal of assets due to the economic downturn. AMCON’s current assets under management (AUM), that is assets obtained from debt resolution, has a book value of N182 billion, which we are unable to sell. Our ability to successfully divest these assets, at competitive market price, is severely hampered by several factors including valuation methodology, unperfected title documents, state of the economy, purchasing power. The third challenge is the uncooperative attitudes of select obligors who are either unwilling and/or unable to settle their indebtedness. Such debtors prefer to resort to all manner of diversionary tactics as opposed to dealing with the problem of their indebtedness. It sees most of them are buying time, to where we do not know.”

Kuru also stated that from all indications, AMCON has in the past seven years exhausted the low hanging fruits and have had to roll up sleeves for a drawn out battle because it has become harder to get obligors to settle their debts. Throwing more light on this, the AMCON boss said, “To clarify, obligors indebted to AMCON for the sum of N1.3 trillion have sued us in various courts in Nigeria raising technicalities to avoid meeting their obligations. This has hampered our recovery efforts and our objective of obtaining the best achievable financial returns on assets acquired from the banks.”

For that reason, he informed that AMCON had presented the issue with 350 accounts that represent about 80 per cent of AMCON’s current exposure of N3 trillion as at May 31, 2018. AMCON, he said is still grappling with the issues that are multi-faceted, which consequently led the Corporation to reposition its debt recovery approach to focus on enforcement against obligors who are not willing to settle amicably.

In conclusion, Kuru said, “I will like to emphasize, once again, that the ramifications for failure by AMCON to recover its debt, principally owed to the CBN, cannot be quantified as it goes beyond economic cost. AMCON’s total debt obligation of N4.8trillion represents more than 55 per cent of the 2018 national budget. Given the current demands on the Federal Government, it is doubtful that it can afford to expense AMCON’s debt in the short term.”

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BUSINESS

CBN injects another $210m into Forex Market

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In its latest round of intervention, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, injected the sum of $210 million in the inter-bank foreign exchange market.

Figures obtained from the CBN indicate that the authorized dealers in the wholesale segment of the market received the sum of $100 million while the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and invisibles segments were allotted the sum of $55 million each.

The Bank’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Isaac Okorafor assured that the CBN would continue to sustain liquidity in the forex market. He also expressed optimism that the Naira will continue its strong run against the dollar and other major currencies around the world, considering the stability in the market and robust reserves.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had on Friday, November 2, 2018, made interventions to the tune of $337.16million in the retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) and CNY 56.17million in the spot and short-tenored forwards segment of the foreign exchange market.

Meanwhile, the Naira on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 exchange at an average of N360/$1 in the BDC segment of the market.

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BUSINESS

Diamond Bank denies merger, acquisition talks with Access Bank

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Diamond Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc have notified the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the general public that both banks are not in any merger or acquisition talks as being circulated in some media.

The banks, in separate statements to the exchange on Monday, denied the rumours that they were engaged in merger and acquisition talks.

Uzoma Uja, Diamond Bank’s Company Secretary, said it was not in discussion with any financial institution at the moment on any form of merger or acquisition.

Uja said that the attention of Diamond Bank had been drawn to the rumour in the media stating that the bank was purportedly in discussion with Access Bank to acquire the bank.

He said: “We wish to state categorically that the bank is not in discussion with any financial institution at the moment on any form of merger or acquisition.

“We trust that the above clarifies the position of the bank with regards to the rumour on the various media platforms.”

Also, Sunday Ekwuochi, Company Secretary, Access Bank, said the bank had not entered into any such discussion with Diamond Bank or any other institution.

Ekwuochi said: “As a publicly quoted company built on best practice, the bank is fully cognisant of its disclosure obligations in respect of any such corporate action and will always discharge its obligations in the most professional manner.

“Consequently, any statement regarding any such corporate action that is not issued by the bank should be disregarded.”

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BUSINESS

Teleology finally takes over 9mobile, names new board

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Teleology Holdings Limited has finally taken over 9mobile.

This is coming 11 months after the company made it to the top five companies making a bid to take over the telecommunications company.

In a statement seen by TheCable, and signed by Mohammed Edewor, Teleology said it “is pleased to announce the constitution of a new Board of Directors for Nigeria’s multi-award-winning telecommunication company, 9mobile”.

This follows “the successful completion of the tenure of the former Board appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and in fulfillment of the consequential transfer of final ownership to the new investors, Teleology Nigeria Limited”.

“We thank all out-going members of the Board for helping to shepherd 9mobile through the critical transition phase it has passed through since July 2017 and wish them the very best in their future assignments.

“For us, the composition of the new Board of Directors is another significant milestone, and this follows the issuance of final approval of no objection by the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to the effect that the technical and financial bids Teleology submitted for 9mobile met and satisfied all the regulatory requirements.

“This is indeed the dawn of a new era in the evolution of the 9mobile brand in the Nigerian market”.

The new board of directors is constituted by:

  1. Nasiru Ado Bayero (Chairman)
  2. Asega Aliga (Non Executive Director)
  3. Adrian Wood (Non Executive Director)
  4. Mohammed Edewor (Non Executive Director)
  5. Winston Ndubueze Udeh (Non Executive Director)
  6. Abdulrahman Ado (Executive Director)
  7. Stephane Beuvelet (Acting Managing Director)

Nasiru Ado Bayero, the new chairman, appreciated the telco’s employees and subscribers, who is said should be prepared for best-in-class services forthwith.

“As we begin this new epochal phase, we wish to thank all the employees who built this viable business,” Ade Bayero said.

“Our debt of gratitude also goes to our subscribers even as we assure them to get ready for real best-in-class additional value for their relationship with the 9mobile brand.

“Without you, there could not have been a 9mobile business for us to invest in today. We will justify your confidence in our brand by making significant investments that will improve the value you get for using 9mobile.”

The sale process of 9mobile was initially billed to be concluded on January 16, 2018, following an approval of the extension of the deadline by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) after an initial December 2017 deadline.

Teleology eventually won the final bid, ahead of Airtel, Globacom, Smile, Helios.

The company, 9mobile, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria was taken over in July 2017 following a N541 billion debt overhang.

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