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Standard Bank Targets Troubled Banks For Acquisition

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Standard Bank Group Limited is currently looking at the nation’s ailing financial system with a view to acquiring more banks in order to expand its operation within the West African regional market.
This development followed continued crash in the price of banks’ equity and the reform programme of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that has put the nation’s banking system in better shape.
Erik Larsen, the bank’s spokesman, said that the current situation in Nigeria has presented good opportunities for them to expand their operation within the West Coast. “Standard Bank Group is watching developments with interest and Nigeria remains a key strategic market for standard bank”, he said, adding that the bank would soon move to achieve this noble objective.
It would be recalled that the nation’s banking crisis began in August when the CBN fired eight chief executive officers and injected N620 billion into the banks to boost their capital base. Banking shares extended falls recently after Intercontinental Bank Plc and Oceanic Bank International Plc reported heavy losses in their last financial year.
Razia Khan, head of Africa research at Standard Chartered Bank noted that rivals in the U.S., the U.K., South Africa and Nigeria will not be “blind” to buying opportunities in Nigeria following the losses and stock price declines.
According to her “the largest banks will probably still be Nigerian but, for South Africa, Nigeria offers a big prize, because South Africa has the appetite to do more in Africa’s second – largest economy.
Foreign banks, such as Citigroup Inc and Barclays Plc will also be watching.
John storey, analyst with Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, said in a note recently that South African banks, in particular First Rand, Absa and Standard Bank, have expressed a strong interest to acquire and further expand operations in Nigeria.
He said that “our base case is actual mergers and acquisitions will be slow to materialise but aggressive posturing could drive a re-rating.”
Louis Zeuner, deputy chief executive officer ABSA Group Limited said recently that the lender is “not involved in any discussions in Nigeria” and that having a representative office in the West African country is “adequate”.
First Rand Ltd, South Africa’s second-largest banking group, did not immediately respond to questions. The lender said in September this year that it is keen on participating in any consolidation.
Concerns about the asset quality of Nigeria’s banks will dominate storey’s investment view in 2010, he said. Impairement charges will not “normalise” next year, he wrote, adding that banks usually take 24 months to fully recover from a crisis.
Guaranty Trust Bank Plc is storey’s top pick in Nigeria, “we see Guaranty Trust Bank as the best-in-class bank within Nigeria that provides exposure to upside surprises to the oil and macro-economic story.
Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa, Guaranty and First Bank are the four largest banks in Nigeria by market capitalisation and appear well-placed to gain market share in a consolidated sector.

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Senate Confirms Cardoso, 11 Others As Monetary Policy Committee Members 

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The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Olayemi Cardoso as the chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Also confirmed for appointment as members of the MPC yesterday, include, Muhammad Abdullahi, (CBN deputy governor), Bala Bello (CBN deputy governor), Emem Usoro (CBN deputy governor), Philip Ikeazor (CBN deputy governor), Lamido Yuguda, (DG Securities and Exchange Commission) and Jafiya Lydia Shehu, (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance).

Others are Murtala Sabo Sagagi (CBN director) Aloysius  Ordu, Aku Odukemelu, Mustapha Akinwunmi, and Bamidele Amoo.

President Bola Tinubu had on Wednesday named Cardoso as the chairman and 11 others as members of the MPC.

Tinubu in his letter of nomination to the Senate, said his action was in line with the provisions of Section 12 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007.

The President had about a week ago asked the Senate to confirm Cardoso, as the chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee of the apex bank.

CBN MPC will hold its first policy meeting for the year on February 26 and 27.

The Senate had , on Wednesday, screened the nominated members of the CBN Monetary Policy Committee, questioning them on the lingering foreign exchange and food crises.

 

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‘Unemployment Rate Hit 0.8% In 2023 Q3’

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The unemployment rate in Nigeria rose by 0.8percent in the third quarter of 2023.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), this was a significant rise, adding that the unemployment rate rose from the 4.2percent recorded in Q2 2023 to 5.0 percent in Q3 2023.
The NBS, the custodian of official statistics in the country, disclosed this in a report it published last Monday titled “Nigeria Labour Force Survey Q3 2023”.
“The employment-to-population ratio was 75.6 percent in Q3 2023 with a decrease of 1.5 percent compared to a ratio of Q2 2023.
“The combined rate of unemployment and time-related underemployment as a share of the labour force population (LU2) increased to 17.3percent in Q3 2023 from 15.5percent in Q2 2023.
“About 87.3 percent of workers were self-employed in Q3 2023. The proportion of workers in Wage Employment in Q3 2023 was 12.7 percent.
“The unemployment rate increased significantly in Q3 2023 at 5.0 percent. This is an increase of 0.8 percent from Q2 2023.
“The rate of unemployment among persons with post-secondary education was 7.8 percent in Q3 2023”, the report stated in part.
It added that the unemployment rate for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years was recorded at 8.6 per cent in Q3 2023 while the informal employment rate in Q3 2023 was 92.3 per cent.
The report added, “The unemployment rate in urban areas was 6.0 percent percentin Q3 2023, a slight increase of 0.1 percent from Q2 2023.
“Time-related underemployment in Q3 2023 was 12.3 percent, showing a slight increase of 0.5 percent from the rate recorded in Q2 2023. This shows an increase of 1.4 percent compared to the rate in Q4 2022.
“4.1percent of the working-age population was in subsistence agriculture in Q3 2023. Informal employment rate in Q3 2023 was 92.3percent, while Q2 2023 was 92.7percent.
“Percentage of youth Not in Employment, Education or Training was 13.7percent in Q3 2023”.
Recall that Nigeria’s inflation rate last Thursday climbed to 29.90 per cent in January 2024 from 28.92 per cent recorded in the previous month.
The 0.98 percent increase shows that the inflation rate in the country is yet to slow down.
The NBS revealed this in its ‘Consumer Price Index’
The development adds more pressure on the Central Bank’s monetary policy committee to sharply raise interest rates at a February  26-27 meeting its first in seven months.

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Merchant Navy Lauds NIWA Over Staff Welfare

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The Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNO/WTSSA) has expressed optimism that the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr. Bola Oyebamiji, will prioritise workers welfare for optimal performance of the agency.
Jibril Darda’u, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NIWA, in a statement over the weekend, disclosed that the seafarers’ union’s remarks are one of the highlights of the meeting between the Trade Union Congress (TUC) affiliate group and management of the agency.
The statement quoted the Chairman of the NMNO/WTSSA, Comrade Suleiman Danjuma, as commending the Managing Director of NIWA for the good initiative of the kind of interaction that brings the staff closer to the management.
“This will definitely boost the morale of the staff and pledge their loyalty and confidence in the Managing Director’s leadership style”, Danjuma stated.
Earlier, the Managing Director of NIWA promised to build on the progress already achieved at the Lokoja River Port, Kogi State.
The MD disclosed this when he went on a familiarisation tour of NIWA’s facilities in Lokoja.
According to the MD, the importance of Lokoja River Port being in the confluence State is to boost the economic viability of the State and Nigeria at large.
“We are here for facility tour to see for ourselves what is on ground at Jamata Port, Lokoja. It is important we come here to assess the facilities to see, at least, how we can move the facilities forward”, he stated.
Recall that in continuation of his familiarisation tour, the Managing Director’s visited the NIWA Lokoja Area office to inspect the Dockyard facilities.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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