31 Mar

Daily Watch – GE on track to win rail contract, Senate to consider PIB in April

  • Nigeria will send its Petroleum Industry Governance Bill to the Senate for final consideration and approval on April 25, a spokesman for Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Thursday. The bill is the latest step in a decade-long attempt to reform the country’s oil sector. The Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum (Upstream, Downstream and Gas) will lay the final report of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill before federal lawmakers. According to a schedule on the final stages of the committee’s work, members of the committee will on Tuesday 4th April 2017, hold their final joint meeting at a one-day retreat in Abuja.
  • The Nigerian Stock Exchange has been given a green light by its members to become a publicly listed company. The members also approved the appointment of South African bank, Firsthand, and local investment firm Chapel Hill Denham to guide it through the process of becoming a listed company. The second-biggest bourse in sub-Saharan Africa after Johannesburg and a main entry point for investors in Africa, the NSE is owned by stockbrokers and some institutional investors. It has around 200 listed companies, all included in its benchmark share index. As a first step, the NSE will change its ownership structure from a mutual company of brokers to add new shareholders. NSE president Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede said this demutualisation “will bring the Nigerian capital market on a par with other international jurisdictions, result in enhanced governance (and) transparency”. It will also attract “strategic partners, investors and good quality issuers”, he said. Nigerian shares have lost 5.2 percent so far this year after a 6.2 percent fall last year. In dollar terms, they shed 40 percent in 2016 as the naira lost a third of its value on the official market.
  • Nigeria is facing a major shortfall in vaccines to contain an outbreak of meningitis that has claimed 282 lives since November last year. The head of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said nearly 2,000 cases had been reported since the first in Zamfara. “We currently have 1,966 suspected cases across the country; 109 of those, have been laboratory confirmed. There have been 282 deaths,” he told a news conference in Abuja. Zamfara and the neighbouring states of Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi and Niger have been hit hardest by the disease. Most of the dead are children aged five to 14. “We are in the middle of a significant response in each of these states to minimise the impact of meningitis among our people,” he said. But Ihekweazu said the type of meningitis C strain responsible for the outbreak was not common in Nigeria and there was a “limited stock” of vaccine worldwide. The World Health Organization, which manages the stocks, has delivered 500,000 doses for a vaccination programme to start in Zamfara on April 11, he added. Another NCDC official said that, “for Zamfara state alone… it is estimated that about three million doses of vaccine will be required,” the official added. A team was working to determine the actual number of doses required to contain the spread of the disease, which has hit 15 of the country’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Meningitis is caused by different types of bacteria, six of which can cause epidemics. It is transmitted between people through coughs and sneezes and facilitated by cramped living conditions and close contact.
  • MTN has made a payment of ₦30 billion ($98 million) in part settlement of a ₦330 billion fine imposed on the telecoms group for not disconnecting unregistered SIM cards, an MTN source told Reuters on Thursday. Africa’s largest telecoms company has already paid ₦80 billion of the total amount owed, the source said. The fine is due for payment in six instalments over three years, MTN has said. MTN Nigeria was originally fined $5.2 billion last October for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards, but the fine was reduced in a settlement that paved the way for MTN to list its subsidiary on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. MTN, which operates in 20 countries, had set aside $600 million last year to pay the fine.
  • A consortium led by General Electric submitted the only bid for a Nigerian railway concession project worth around $2 billion for two lines connecting northern cities to others in the south, a procurement process adviser said on Wednesday. Bids had to be submitted by Wednesday. Nigeria has been looking for partners to overhaul its ageing railway system, built mainly by British colonial rulers before independence in 1960. The concession will cover about 3,500 km (2,200 miles) of existing narrow-gauge lines from Lagos to Kano and oil hub Port Harcourt to Maiduguri in the northeast. “We received one bid today,” said Fola Fagbule, vice president and co-head of advisory at Africa Finance Corporation which ran a procurement process after being appointed lead adviser by the government. The only bid, led by GE, was in partnership with Transnet of South Africa, Dutch-based APM Terminals and China’s Sinohydro Consortium.
  • Nigerian Breweries is giving shareholders the option of taking new shares in lieu of a cash dividend so that it can use the money to cut interest costs and fund working capital, it said on Thursday. Owned 51.6 percent by Heineken, Nigerian Breweries said it had set a price of ₦130.59 for the new shares and shareholders rejecting the offer would be paid cash. Shareholders are due to approve the dividend of ₦2.58 a share at their annual meeting on May 3. The share price closed at ₦130 on Thursday, up 0.77 percent, underperforming the broader index which rose 1.05 percent. Nigeria’s IPO market has dried up for close to a decade following a crisis with regulators struggling to revive it. The Securities and Exchange Commission this month proposed cutting listing fees to attract issuers.