31 Jan

Daily Watch – Intels has two weeks to pay up, MTN shakes off fine hangover

  • The NPA has given Intels Nigeria a two-week ultimatum to remit an outstanding $48 million that ought to have been paid into the maritime agency’s treasury single account in 2017. Speaking during an interview with CNBC Africa, Hadiza Bala Usman, the agency’s managing director, said Intels’ notice of termination will stand if the company failed to settle its debt. “I am giving Intels a possible two-week window to provide payment, two weeks from now, following which the notice of termination will not be withdrawn,” she said. “One of the issues we have had with Intels is their non-compliance with the TSA. As you are aware, the Nigerian government instituted the treasury single account which is the account that all revenues of government need to be paid into,” she added. In September, justice minister Abubakar Malami asked the NPA to void the boats’ pilotage agreement it has with Intels. Intels, a logistics and facilities services provider in the maritime and oil and gas sectors, was co-founded by Gabriele Volpi, an Italian national, and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Malami said the agreement, which has allowed Intels to receive revenue on behalf of NPA for 17 years, violates sections 80(1) and 162(1) and (10) of the Constitution.
  • India’s largest telecoms operator, Bharti Airtel does not see much value in buying debt-laden Nigerian rival 9mobile and withdrew from submitting a firm bid before the deadline, Reuters quotes two industry sources with knowledge of the deal. Barclays Africa is examining takeover bids from prospective buyers for 9mobile. However, a deal may take a few months as it will involve restructuring 9mobile’s debt after a default last year. Airtel had expressed an interest to acquire the Nigerian firm as part of plans to consolidate its position in Africa’s biggest telecoms market, but it declined to submit a financial bid before a 16 January deadline. “Airtel is not interested in 9mobile because it sees little value in the company,” one source said.
  • A surge of West African cocoa beans being shipped to the United States has followed exporters’ rush to capture an unusual premium that has emerged in the New York futures market. Reuters quotes industry sources as saying that prices in New York have been boosted by a reduced flow of supplies from Ecuador while the London market has been depressed by aggressive speculative selling coupled with an abundance of old or low-quality cocoa from Cameroon. London’s cocoa futures market typically commands a premium to the New York contract, reflecting stronger demand in Europe, where the bulk of beans from the world’s top producing region are processed. It is unclear exactly how much Ivorian and Nigerian cocoa has made its way to the United States so far, but total cocoa stocks in ICE U.S. licensed warehouses stood at 255,654 tonnes as of 29 January 29. Nigerian cocoa stocks in certified warehouses total 2,387 tonnes, up from 240 tonnes in late January 2017. Dealers estimated the attractive arbitrage may have drawn between 30,000 and 80,000 tonnes of additional Ivorian and Nigerian cocoa over the last three months – with even more cocoa expected to be shipped over the next few months.
  • MTN Group says it is anticipating a profit in its 2017 financial statement, adding that it has recovered from a $1 billion fine it paid for its Nigerian unit. In a statement, the company, Nigeria’s largest telecommunications network, said the financial statement would cover 12 months for the period ended 31 December 2017. The company announced that it lost $200 million in 2016 – the first full-year loss of the company in its 22-year existence, blaming it on the fine imposed on it by the NCC. In 2016, NCC imposed a fine on the telco over its failure to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards. The fine was reduced to ₦780 billion in December 2015 and was further reduced in June 2016 to ₦330 billion, with payment spread over three years. As of March 2017, the company had paid a total of ₦110 billion. The remaining payments to be made in tranches of ₦55 billion by March 31, 2018; ₦55 billion by December 31, 2018; another ₦55 billion by 31 March 2019 and a balance of ₦55 billion by 31 May 2019.
  • Medview Airline says it has suspended its Lagos to Dubai operations, almost two months after its inaugural flight took off on 7 December 2017. The airline said Dubai bound flights will resume operations on 24 March 2018. Muneer Bankole, managing director of the airline, told journalists on Monday that the operations were suspended because there was no ready aircraft to service the route until the given date. Bankole said the airline would use the opportunity to sort things out with Euro Atlantic, its lessor and partner for 12 years. “While we want to leave the past behind us, it is imperative to say we have issues with our European partners over aircraft we leased from them,” he said.