28 Mar

Daily Watch – Milost develops cold feet over Unity Bank, FAAN will patrol airports with arms

  • Nigeria and Switzerland signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to pave the way for the return of illegally acquired assets, the Presidency said. Switzerland said in December that it would return to Nigeria around $321 million in assets seized from the family of former military ruler Sani Abacha via a deal signed with the World Bank. Since taking office in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has sought help from several nations to recover money he said was taken from public coffers of the OPEC member, which is Africa’s biggest oil producer and has the continent’s largest economy. Buhari’s spokesman said in an emailed statement that the memorandum of understanding ratified was between Nigeria, Switzerland and the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries.
  • New NBS data shows the country’s public debt stock stood at ₦10.15 trillion ($28.21 billion) as at the end of 2017. A breakdown of the debt stock showed that the country’s foreign and domestic debts stood at ₦6.80 trillion ($18.9 billion) and ₦3.35 trillion ($9.31 billion ) respectively. Of Nigeria’s foreign debt, ₦3.69 trillion ($10.24 billion) was multilateral while ₦98.99 billion ($274.98 million) was bilateral. The FG borrowed ₦752.4 billion ($2.09 billion) from the Export-Import Bank of China credited while ₦2.27 trillion ($6.30 billion) was commercial debt. The FG’s debt pile accounted for 78.23 percent of the total foreign debt. Of the states and the FCT, Lagos has the highest foreign debt profile, accounting for 35.61 percent. Similarly, total state domestic debt was ₦3.35 trillion with Lagos accounting for 10.85 percent while Sokoto has the least debt with a contribution 0.78 percent to the total domestic debt stock.
  • Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika says FAAN security personnel will soon receive licences to carry arms at airports across the country. Sirika made this known while speaking in Katsina at the 2018 Aviation Security retreat on Monday. Speaking through the rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Mohammed Abdulsalami, Sirika said the development would complement the activities of other security agencies in addressing security challenges at the airports. In 2016, Sirika announced that officers would be trained to carry arms to combat terror threats and general insecurity that could lead to security breaches.
  • Nigeria decided not join an Africa free trade zone last week because it needs to carry out more consultations at home first, the FG said on Tuesday. Other leaders agreed to form a zone encompassing 1.2 billion people, but 11 countries including the continent’s biggest economy, Nigeria, and its most-developed, South Africa, did not sign up. The omissions were a blow to African Union plans to cut back red tape and other barriers that have strangled trade between African states – which account for just 15 percent of total commerce on the continent. It did not go into any details on the nature of the consultations. South Africa did immediately comment on its reasons last week. Others staying on the sidelines were: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.
  • Milost Global Incorporated, a New York-based private equity firm, says it will no longer go on with its proposed investment in Unity Bank. The company made its decision known in a statement released by Kim Freeman, the company’s CEO, on Monday. In the statement, Freeman said following an approach by the lender’s CEO and CFO, “a desk top due diligence was conducted by Milost to its satisfaction. On September 4, 2017, a $1 billion financing term sheet was fully executed by both Milost and Unity Bank,” the statement read. “The facility, a combo of equity and debt, was provided on the exciting understanding that Unity Bank would delist on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and move its listing to the USA. The signed term sheet was approved by the board of Unity Bank. The PE firm said soon after the story broke, it received threatening emails from a gentleman who says he is politically connected to the powers that could “shut Milost out of Nigeria if Milost didn’t terminate the Unity Bank transaction.” Freeman said his company will continue to do business in Nigeria and will release $21 million to Japaul Oil & Maritime Services and another $10 million to Resort Savings & Loans in April.