Lafarge shareholders endorse merger with Unicem, Atlas Cement
Lafarge Africa Plc shareholders, on Monday, approved the proposed scheme of merger with United Cement Company of Nigeria Limited and Atlas Cement Company Limited. The shareholders gave their endorsement to the move at a court-ordered meeting in Lagos convened by the management and board of Lafarge Africa.
Addressing shareholders at the meeting, the Chairman, Lafarge Africa, Mr. Mobolaji Balogun, said there was a need for the merger, pointing out that it would help to streamline the operations of Unicem and Atlas as well as to reduce the operating costs by consolidating the cement manufacturing and marketing businesses for better efficiency and management.
Bank scales down offshore operations
Diamond Bank Plc, one of the country’s fastest growing retail banks, is now scaling down its offshore businesses, starting from West African banking operations, a move aimed at giving more attention on Nigeria’s significant retail banking opportunity. Specifically, the bank has agreed to sell its operations in Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal to Manzi Finances S.A.- a Cote d’Ivoire-based financial services holding company.
Already, regulatory approvals have been obtained in all jurisdictions for the transactions, which are anticipated to close before December 31st.According to the bank, by focusing its resources exclusively on Nigeria, it is now poised to capitalise on the positive macro fundamentals inherent in the local market.
Buhari presents 2018 budget to N’Assembly today
President Muhammadu Buhari will present the 2018 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly today (Tuesday). The 2018 budget proposal presentation is scheduled to hold at 2pm. The Federal Government plans to spend about N8.6tn next year, a jump of about 15 per cent from the N7.44tn budgeted for the current year.
The figures were contained in the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, which Buhari had earlier sent to the National Assembly in compliance with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
Investors Offered Business Opportunities in S’African City
As investors grapple with the choice of where to invest and make quick returns on investment with relative certainty, Matlosana, a municipal council in North West Province of South Africa, has been described as one of the business destinations for smart businessmen.
This was disclosed at a three-day trade and infrastructure investment conference organised by the municipality at the Rio Hotel Casino and Convention Resort in Klerksdorp recently, which exposed huge business opportunities in the mining, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and transportation sectors in the economy.
Tackling competitiveness by looking beyond bureaucracy
Over the last few years the reality of Nigeria’s lack of competitiveness in industry has been apparent. Most international agencies which measure competitiveness have placed us close to the bottom of their rankings. The World Economic Forum ranked us 125th out of 137 countries in their 2017 global competitiveness rankings for instance, a position we have hovered around for most of the last decade.
The ratings in the World Bank’s doing business index paint a similar picture. Besides the rankings, there has also been a tacit acceptance that the country is not a great place to do business. With many obstacles and bottlenecks holding businesses back, the local business community has pushed for improvements for a while too.
Oil price rises to $64, highest since mid-2015
Global oil benchmark, Brent crude, hit a 28-month high on Monday as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince cemented his power over the weekend with an anti-corruption crackdown. Brent, against which Nigeria’s crude oil is priced, rose by $2 to $64.07 per barrel as of 8:03pm Nigerian time, more than $19 higher than the country’s oil price benchmark of $44.5 per barrel for this year’s budget.
The Excess Crude Account, into which the country saves the difference between the market price of oil and the budget benchmark to provide a cushion when oil prices fall or extra cash is needed for spending on infrastructure, has suffered declines since oil price slumped in 2014.
OPTS: Costs of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Projects Higher By 100% .Over $500m spent on security in 2016
A new report released by oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria has shown the existence of a Nigeria-specific cost premium for the petroleum sector, with operating costs and projects costs significantly higher than in other countries by as much as 100 per cent.
The oil and gas producers stated that they spend five times more on security than their global peers, with over $500 million spent in 2016 on security services such as escort vessels, convoys and guards. According to the operating companies, they also rely on costly transportation options for personnel and goods, such as helicopter transport and aviation as a result of the insecurity of Nigeria’s waterways.
BVN: Banks engage law firm to appeal court ruling
The ongoing issue around a court order asking the Central Bank of Nigeria and 19 Deposit Money Banks to release the details of all accounts without the Bank Verification Number with a view to seizing the funds in them took a new twist on Monday as indications emerged that the lenders named in the suit had engaged the services of a top law firm to address the matter.
Already, the law firm has approached the court for an extension of time to appeal the court order. Top bank executives privy to the development told our correspondent that all the affected lenders were ready to appeal the court order and had instructed the law firm to file for an extension of time to do so.
Lagos Targets 60,000 Jobsthrough New Initiative
The Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare, has expressed the resolve of the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to create 60,000 direct and indirect jobs through the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI).
Adejare, who disclosed this in Lagos yesterday at the on-boarding of the ward resident contractors to oversee the work of the 27,500 community sanitation workers, said the 60,000 workers would be well paid and treated well. He also stated that the state government would ensure that their salaries are paid as at when due, as well as ensure that they are given the necessary support to make them discharge their duties effectively.
Adeosun, CBN, foreign investors disagree on naira’s future
Nigerian officials are increasingly confident the naira’s troubles are over for good. Some investors, however, disagree. According to Bloomberg, portfolio inflows have risen in the past three months with crude prices increasing above $60 a barrel and money managers taking heart from a new foreign-exchange trading window, in which the naira has converged with the black-market rate.
That prompted Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, to tell investors in London on October 27 that the currency was set to strengthen.
Buhari urged to promote free trade zones
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to pay more attention to the free zones for growth of the economy. A maritime lawyer, Mr Slomon Adelaja, who made the call in Lagos, said well developed free zones would generate millions of jobs for the youth.nImporters, exporters and other stakeholders in the maritime value chain, Adelaja said, would benefit immensely from well developed free trade zone.
“If free trade zones are adequately promoted and proper incentives given, investors will be encouraged to invest in the zones, which will in turn provide more jobs for Nigerians as many importers and exporters would be willing to use the zone based on low tariffs that would be introduced,”he said.
Fayemi: FG, States, LGAs Shared N9.9bn Solid Mineral Revenue in July 2017
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development and Chairman, National Stakeholders’ Working Group (NSWG) of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (NEITI), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has stated that N9.9billion revenue generated directly from the solid mineral sector was shared by the three tiers of government in July, 2017.
He said NEITI’s intervention through recommendations in solid minerals audit report, led to the sharing of monies from the sector by the three tiers of government and other beneficiaries in line with section 162 of the 1999 constitution on derivation.
NIMASA to end foreign control of crude lifting
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is set to end foreign domination of crude oil lifting. The agency plans to introduce new measures that will pomote indigenous participation in the highly lucrative business. Its Director-General, Dr Dakuku Peterside, it was gathered, has concluded arrangement to introduce new policies that will enthrone the participation of many Nigerians.
Speaking with The Nation on the side line of the World Maritime Day, organised by the Ministry of Transportation last week in Lagos, Peterside decried the monopoly, which precludes indigenous shipowners from participating in the highly-lucrative enterprise. He promised to assist in building indigenous operators’ capacity to participate actively in the business.
FG targets 16% reduction in domestic debt
The Federal Government plans to reduce the proportion of the country’s domestic debt by 16 per cent in order to lower the sustainability challenges posed by high interest payment on that part of the country’s total debt burden.
The Director-General, Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, who confirmed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Monday, said the plan would involve reducing the country’s domestic debt to 60 per cent, while raising the external component to 40 per cent.
Lagos goes after tax defaulters
A massive tax enforcement is on the way in Lagos. The state government yesterday directed all its revenue agencies to all tax defaulters. Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, who broke the news in a statement. He lamented that many residents were not fulfilling their civic obligation of paying taxes, saying the prevailing situation would adversely affect the government’s infrastructural renewal drive ongoing across the state.
He said the government had concluded plans to go all out to enforce the tax laws so as to bring more Lagosians into the tax net. Lagos State Governor, Akinwinmi Ambode at a forum, expressed concern that only about 600,000 Lagos residents are up to date in paying their taxes, a situation he said was not helpful to scale up provision of infrastructure and other amenities for the people.