Nigerian Banks exit Eurobond market
Godwin Emefiele, CBN Chief

Nigerian Banks exit Eurobond market

The rush for Eurobond market by Nigerian banks seems to be coming to an end with the recent stay-away moves by operators.

After 14 August, there will be no United States dollar denominated subordinated Nigerian bank bonds outstanding, Tellimer Research has hinted. Some analysts say that the reason may not be unconnected with pressure on statement of financial position.

Kingsley Ezoh, Lead consultant with LSintelligence Associates said the need to reduce foreign currency exposures, cost and upgrade asset  quality could account for the bearish stance.

“The thing is, you don’t borrow if you don’t need funds. Banks know better”, Ezoh added.

Tellimer Research, former Exotix Capital, revealed that the Nigerian bank Eurobond universe is fast disappearing. The firm relayed that Guaranty Trust Bank did not replace a senior bond, which matured in November 2018 and defunct Diamond bank’s sole Eurobond was repaid in May.

It recalled that Access Bank Plc redeemed a US$400 million subordinated bond in June and First Bank of Nigeria has called its US$450 million subordinated bond, and will repay this amount on 23 July.

It also provided that Ecobank Nigeria has also called its US$250 million subordinated bond, with repayment now expected on 14 August. Both First Bank of Nigeria and Ecobank Nigeria will exit the Eurobond market following the call dates, though the parent company of Ecobank Nigeria does have a bond outstanding.

“After 14 August, there will be no United States dollar denominated subordinated Nigerian bank bonds outstanding”, Tellimer Research revealed.

The much-discussed dearth in Eurobond supply partly reflects subdued demand for foreign currency loans, it stated.

“Could this change? We believe there are at least three reasons why it could”, Tellimer remarks.

First, based on Bloomberg data, a US$3.25 billion dual-tranche Dangote Industries loan matures in August 2020. If this facility is renewed with participation from Nigerian banks, we could see primary market activity increase, Tellimer said.

“Second, headlines suggest lending to the oil & gas sector may be on the rebound. As examples, in a recent presentation, Seplat stated that funding for a US$700 million gas processing project will be provided – in part – by local banks.

“In addition, earlier this month, Green Energy International Ltd, which is developing a marginal field, announced that it had signed memorandum of understanding,  MoU, for a total package of US$350 million -though this funding appears to have come from international banks, the firm stated.

The firm recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stated that the banking sector will be recapitalised over the next five years, leading some to speculate that as in 2004/5, the minimum amount of capital required to operate may be increased.

According to Tellimer, this could lead to further mergers and acquisitions in the banking sector. If this happens, it is possible that some banks may choose to fund such activity by issuing new bonds – though we acknowledge that equity funding may well be preferred by the banks, and/or by the regulator.

Meanwhile, the CBN announced that a minimum loans/deposit ratio of 60% will be required from the end of September. The regulator has also reduced the maximum remunerable amount under the Standing Deposit Facility to NGN 2 billion from NGN7.5 billion.

These measures are just two examples of changes the regulator is making to encourage banks to lend.

“We acknowledge that these changes introduce uncertainty and may lead to concerns about profitability and asset quality.

“However, we do not believe a regulator that rescued Polaris Bank (formerly Skye Bank) and was instrumental in Diamond Bank’s merger with Access Bank will implement changes in a way that compromises financial stability”, Tellimer stated.

Read Also: Nigeria to Make Eurobond Call as FX Scarcity Deepens

Nigerian Banks exit Eurobond market