28 Feb

Daily Watch – Date set for Malabu ruling, Zenith weathers the recession

  • A court will rule on a request by Royal Dutch Shell and Italy’s Enion, March 13, to lift the temporary seizing of a long-disputed oilfield. The court last month ordered the temporary seizing of assets and the transfer of operations of the OPL 245 field owned by Shell and Eni, among others, to the FG at the request of the EFCC. The case is the latest of several inquiries, following those by Dutch and Italian authorities, into the 2011 purchase of the OPL 245 block, which could hold up to 9.23 billion barrels of oil, according to industry figures. “The matter is adjourned to the 13th of March 2017 for ruling on the applications,” Justice John Tsoho told a hearing. Shell’s lawyer Kayinsola Ajayi said the EFCC had failed to follow the necessary steps such as issuing an arrest warrant first before seeking a forfeiture. EFCC lawyer Johnson Ojogbane dismissed this. According to court papers, the inquiry is investigating whether the $1.3 billion purchase of OPL 245 involved “acts of conspiracy, bribery, official corruption and money laundering.”
  • The CBN said on Monday it sold $80 million to retail customers and another $100 million in currency forwards to increase dollar liquidity and support the naira. Nigeria has been running short of dollars as oil revenues have fallen along with the price of crude. That has weakened the local currency on the black market, where it trades far lower than the official interbank rate of ₦305 to the dollar. The central bank said in a statement it sold $80 million to cover consumer demand and another $100 million via the wholesale forward market. Traders said banks offered central bank dollars to customers at ₦375. The regulator, under pressure from the government to narrow the gap between the official and black market rates, has effectively devalued the naira for consumers, offering to sell them dollars at about half the premium the black market charges. The naira, which had weakened to ₦520 to the dollar on the black market, firmed up to more than a three-months high of ₦460 on Friday, after several interventions by the CBN on the official market. Spokesman Isaac Okoroafor said the CBN would ensure a steady supply of foreign exchange to the market.
  • Nigeria, Algeria and other OPEC members lost $1 trillion in cumulative revenue as a result of the crash in crude oil prices, the body’s secretary general, Mohammed Barkindo, has said. Crude prices crashed from over $100 per barrel in 2014 to as low as $23 in 2016, a development that threw many oil-dependent countries into economic crisis. Speaking during a working visit to the office of the Nigerian oil minister, Ibe Kachikwu, in Abuja on Monday, Barkindo said, “In terms of the gravity of this cycle, crude oil prices have crashed by over 80 percent from the fall of 2014 through January 2016. How you survived as a government and institution in this industry remains a miracle. I’ve been to other countries and I saw how they are struggling, but you have weathered the storm,” he said. The OPEC executive, however, explained that the shut-in of about 1.8 million barrels of crude oil per day within a period of six months by the 13 OPEC and 11 non-OPEC members under a new deal, paid off considering the rise in crude oil prices.
  • Zenith Bank has declared a profit after tax of ₦129.65 billion and a final dividend of ₦1.77 per share for the financial year ended December 31, 2016, according to an NSE filing. This was in contrast with ₦105.66 billion posted in the preceding period of 2015. The profit represented an increase of 22.7 percent when compared with 2015 figures. Its profit before tax stood at ₦156.75 against the ₦125.63 billion declared in 2015. The bank’s gross earnings grew by 17.4 per cent to ₦507. 99 billion compared with ₦432.54 billion recorded in 2015. Its non-interest income increased by 45.9 percent to ₦25.59 billion due to an 809 percent increase in foreign exchange revaluation gains of ₦25.6 billion. This, however, declined by 10 percent from the ₦8.2 billion reported in nine months of 2016. The impairment loss on financial assets rose significantly by 106.4 per cent to ₦32.35 billion in 2016 and 34.6 percent based on quarter-on-quarter to ₦10.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016. The board of directors proposed a final dividend of ₦1.77 per share to all its investors against a final dividend of ₦1.55 per share paid in 2015. The bank had earlier in 2016 paid a sum of 25k as an interim dividend, bringing the total dividend in 2016 to ₦2.02 per share against ₦1.80 per share declared in 2015. Zenith is the first bank to declare its 2016 audited numbers.