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5 banks earn N434bn profits in 2016

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2016 was supposed to be the year that the bottom line of Nigerian top banks would feel the pain of a recessed economy, weak oil prices and regulatory headwinds. But, if the 2016 full year results reported by five leading banks in the country are anything to go by, it appears that lenders’ performance last year will top 2015’s.

An analysis of the 2016 full year results announced by Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith International Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Access Bank and Stanbic IBTC, for instance, show that the five lenders reported total profits of almost N434 billion compared to N357 billion that they reported for the previous year.

Specifically, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), which led the pack, posted Profit After Tax (PAT) of N132. 281 billion for the financial year ended December 31, 2016, compared with N99.437 it earned in the previous year, accounting for a growth of 33.03 per cent.

According to the group, its Profit Before Tax (PBT) increased to N165.14 billion in 2016, representing a growth of 37 per cent over N120.69 billion recorded in the corresponding period of December 2015.

Further review of the results reveals that the group’s gross earnings for the period grew by 37 per cent to N414.62 billion from N301.85 billion reported in the December 2015.

Similarly, 2016 full year results announced by Zenith Bank show that the lender declared a PAT of N129.65 billion for the financial year ended December 31, 2016 compared with the N105.66 billion it posted in the preceding period of 2015, representing an increase of 22.7 per cent.

The lender reported that its PBT rose to N156.75 billion in 2016 from the N125.63 billion declared in 2015.

It also reported a 17.4 per cent growth in gross earnings to N507. 99 billion last year from the N432.54 billion posted in 2015. Zenith Bank was trailed by Access Bank, which declared N71 billion as its PAT for the financial year ended December 31, 2016, compared with N66 billion reported for the previous year.

It reported a PBT of N90.3 billion for 2016 as against N75.038 billion posted in 2015 while its gross revenues grew by 13 per cent to N381.3 billion in 2016 from N337.4  billion posted in the previous year.

Similarly, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) reported that its PAT rose by 22 per cent to N72 billion for the financial year ended December 31, 2016, from N60 billion recorded the previous year.

The Group said there was a 32 per cent growth in PBT to N91 billion, compared with N68 billion recorded over the same period of 2015. It also recorded a 22 per cent growth in gross earnings to N384 billion in 2016, from N315 billion at the end of the 2015 financial year.

However, the highest percentage increase in PAT among these banks was recorded by Stanbic IBTC Holdings as it, last Wednesday, reported that its 2016 PAT rose by 51 per cent to N28.52 billion from N18.89 billion posted in the previous year, while its PBT increased to N37.209 billion last year from the N23.651 bilion posted in 2015.

The lender also announced higher revenue of N156.43 billion for 2016, up 12 per cent from N140.03 billion in 2015.

Expectedly, the impressive results posted by these banks have given their shareholders a lot to be pleased about as virtually all the lenders have proposed to pay dividends.

For instance, UBA said in a statement that its Board of Directors  proposed a final dividend of 55 kobo, subject to the approval of the shareholders at its forthcoming annual general meeting, scheduled to be held on 07 April, 2017, at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos.

The bank had earlier paid an interim dividend of 20 kobo to shareholders, bringing the total dividend for the 2016 financial year to N0.75, a significant yield of 13.9 per cent, based on the stock’s unit price of N5.39.

Commenting on the results, UBA’s Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Kennedy Uzoka, expressed satisfaction at the resilience of the lender, despite the macro-economic challenges in many countries where it operates.

“Given the operating environment in 2016, I am very pleased with our profitability – an impressive 32 per cent growth in profit before tax to N91 billion – whilst we have also focused keenly on operational efficiencies, illustrated by the reduction in our Cost-to-Income Ratio,” Uzoka said.

Speaking on the outlook for the 2017 financial year, Uzoka expressed optimism that UBA’s pan-African operations are increasingly gaining critical mass across its chosen markets.

Just last week, global credit rating agency, Fitch Ratings, issued a report predicting that Nigerian banks will face further challenges in 2017 following an extremely difficult 2016.

The agency stated: “The outlook for the rest of 2017 is not much brighter.

We believe that the banks will continue to face extremely tight FC (foreign currency) liquidity despite the authorities’ best efforts to normalise the foreign-exchange (FX) interbank market and improve the supply of US dollars.”

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Nigeria’s fish deficit hits 2.2m tons

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Despite smuggling and abuse of import quota restrictions, Nigeria is currently facing 2.1 million tons of fish deficit.
The Director of Federal Department of Fishery (FDF), Muazu Mohammed, said this in a chat with New Telegraph in Lagos.
He said that the country still depends on one million tons of fish annually as against the 3.2 million tons demand.

Statistically, the country’s total demand is estimated at 3.2 million tons, while it depends on 1.12 million tons of domestic production from aquaculture, artisanal and industrial fisheries.
The FDF boss added that 80 per cent of fish produced in the country are catfish, while other species account for only 20 per cent.
This newspaper gathered that the restrictions have not yielded any positive result because of abuse of quotas and large scale smuggling.

Fish farmers who spoke with this newspaper noted that some of the local farmers government was trying to protect were already out of the business due to lack of fund and other challenges.
Speaking on the development, President, Fish Processors Association of Nigeria (FPAS), Chief Wole Omole, blamed the deficit on government’s policies, which had created uncertainty in the fishery industry.
He said that some members of the association had been facing challenges of finance, debts and smuggling in the business because government had not done enough to protect their investments.
Already, Omole noted that many of the local fish farmers had closed down their fish farms since they have run into debts.

He said: “Let me say this to you, government is just paying leap service to farmers operating in the industry. Money does not get to real farmers who are willing to expand their fish ponds. Also, fish feeding is very expensive in the country. As I talk to you now, I have diverted from fishing business because the profit is not there and this has to do with the cost of feeding the fish.”
Omole explained that investors were finding it difficult to break even in the business even in the long run.

The FPAS president added that lack of political will by the Federal Government had stifled the growth and development of fishery in the country.
“Look at the importation of frozen chicken and turkey the Federal Government banned, but you still found them in the marketplace,” he noted.
According to him, importation of foreign fish, lack of capital, strong smuggling network and inadequate feeds had crippled the ambition of local farmers to meet national demand. This is why the country is facing such a huge deficit, he said.

Omole blamed government for allowing influx of fish imports into the country despite its import restriction quotas.
Echoing him, the President of Fishery Association of Nigeria (FAN), Rasaq Adefowoju, decried the high rate of smuggling and importation of fish to the country.
He said that without government assistance to local fish farmers, the current fish deficit would continue to widen.

Adefowoju also stressed the need for government to create an enabling environment for local fish farmers operating in the country.
The president added that only the solution was for government to provide a bailout fund or loan for the farmers from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to enable them embark on massive production at single digit or at six months moratorium.

Adefowoju said: “The problem with us in the association is finance. We have enough local fish farmers in the country that can produce fish but there is no financial assistance from the government.”
It would be recalled that since 2014, when the Federal Government introduced the import restriction, exporters from Norway have been finding it difficult to bring fish into the country due to lack of foreign into the country due to lack of foreign exchange to order for supply.

However, finding revealed that some fish are being smuggled through the neighbouring Cotonou Port to the country by fish merchants.
Last year, the Federal Government complained that about $700 million was spent on importation of fish into the country.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, lamented that it was no longer sustainable for government to continue to spend such huge amount of money on fish importation.
Consequently, he said that funds would be made available for research institutes to scale up research work into the local production of other fish species, aside the regular catfish and Tilapia.

The minister said: “We need to start looking inwards to see how Nigeria can produce some of these fishes both for local consumption and then importation. We will also encourage massive investment in artisanal fish production, to meet the protein needs of Nigerians, because it has been discovered that lack of protein in some women have made them to developed fibroid

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Dangote: Businesses, residents lose N86bn daily to Apapa gridlock

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Businesses and residents are losing N86 billion to Apapa-Wharf road gridlock daily, Africa’s richest man and President/CEO, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has said.
He stated this in Lagos while condemning the challenges posed by traffic jam and heavy presence of different types of taskforce, including the Customs, on the major route leading to the nation’s largest port.
Dangote, who was on an inspection tour of the on-going reconstruction of N4.3 billion Apapa-Wharf road by AG Dangote recently, stated that businesses and residents are losing 20 times the project’s cost daily.
By calculation, N86 billion is being lost by business owners and residents on daily basis.

He said: “People don’t really understand how much money businesses are losing because of the gridlock here; if you quantify it in billions, it is 20 times the cost of this project every single day.”
Consequently, he urged the Federal Government to move the taskforce, including Customs, away from the route to ease traffic.
The reconstruction of the road that leads to Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports is being undertaken by Dangote Group, Nigerian Flour Mill Limited and the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), which are together committing N4.34 billion to the project.

Justifying the involvement of his company in sponsoring the project, Managing Director, Flour Mills Limited, Paul Gbadedo, lamented that it has been difficult for businesses and residents of Apapa.
Noting that the economy of Apapa is very huge, he said that businesses cannot see the traffic and road deteriorating without doing something.
He stated that 75 to 80 per cent of imports passed through the Apapa ports, noting that the road is strategic.

Dangote stressed that it did not make any commercial sense for Customs to mount check points outside the wharf after they might have checked and certified goods at the ports.
“If there should be any more checkpoints, they should be at the toll gates, not here where they are obstructing traffic flow,” he said.

Africa’s richest man said he was impressed with the progress and quality of work being done by AG Dangote, the contractor handling the reconstruction of the road.
He also lauded the palliative work going on on Apapa Oshodi Expressway and the Trailer Park being constructed by government off the expressway, pointing out that these were efforts being made to ensure that the access roads to the ports are decongested.

“My impression of this road has changed because AG Dangote is doing a great and excellent work here. You can see the quality of work being done. This is quite impressive. Even in Germany, you cannot see this kind of quality of road. This road can last at least two generations in which case you will be talking about over 60 years. It is so solid that it can take any weight and any traffic,” Dangote said.
“I can assure you that we will double our efforts to complete the project on schedule, that is, latest by the end of June,” he said.

Chief Executive, AG Dangote, Ajif Juma, stated that the company is facing a lot of challenges, citing traffic and gas pipeline as major ones.
“But now we are working hard to ensure we finish on schedule with some of our workers on night shift,” he said.

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CBN to banks: Settle customers’ complaints within 2 weeks

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Deposit Money Banks ( DMBs) and other financial Institutions have been directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to settle customers’ complaints on issues of overcharge, unauthorised deductions and other matters within two weeks.

CBN Head of Complaints management Division, Mr Tajudeen Ahmed, conveyed the Apex Bank’s directive in Abuja. He said the regulator would ensure that bank customers receive redress on issues of excess charges or unauthorised withdrawal.

Ahmed reiterated the CBN’s commitment to eradicating the culture of excess and arbitrary charges. According to him, the CBN has since issued a circular,which could be found on the its website showing all legitimate bank charges. He explained that any charge outside what is contained in the circular was not allowed and should not be charged.

“The Consumer Protection Department issued guidelines to banks dated August 16, 2011, directing all banks and other financial institutions to resolve all customer complaints within two weeks of receipt of that complaint,” he said. “Before the expiration of that complaint, the financial institution is expected to be engaging the customer on a continuous basis to update him or her on the status of the complaint. “If it is not resolved within the deadline given, then such a person is encouraged to draw the attention of Central Bank of Nigeria to find solution to that complaint.”

Ahmed enjoined customers with unresolved complaints to contact the CBN by writing to the Director Consumer Protection Department. He also advised disgruntled bank customers to visit any branch of the CBN closest to them to lay their complaints.

“The CBN continually engages the banks to find out if their conducts and practices are fair to their customers in order to stimulate people’s confidence in the banking system. “Non-adherence to that normally results to regulatory sanctions as the case may be,” he said.

Ahmed faulted banks for setting a limit on ATM withdrawals to get customers to make several withdrawals to cash large sums. “I have also observed and noted this. Don’t forget that at the beginning, it wasn’t like this. Over time, we started having this problem.

“One of the reasons is that the quantum of N500 denomination is much more than that of N1,000 denomination,” he said. “When we approached the banks about these problems, they said that the machines become easily faulty when it is set to dispense up to N30, 000 to N40, 000 units.

“However, CBN has directed that the machines that allow payment of up to N30,000 to N50,000 should be installed. “This is still ongoing. The Banking and Payment Department of the CBN is championing it.” In her remarks, Head, Consumer Protection Department, Mrs Hadija Kasim, admonished bank customers to imbibe cashless policy.

“Let’s not forget that ATM cards can also be used on Point of Sale (POS) terminals. We are encouraging people that unless it is absolutely necessary, they should reduce the carriage of cash. Cashless transactions are more convenient, safer and you will avoid the problem of overcharges,” she said. She advised bank consumers to use bank transfer channels for transactions in cases where sellers do not have POS.

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