Archives September 2016

Naira in free fall, plunges to 480/dollar

The naira plunged further against the United States dollar to a new record low of 480 on Thursday, down from 472 it recorded on Wednesday.

The currency had continued its two-week free fall on Monday, closing at 445 to the dollar after tumbling to 439 on Friday.

On Tuesday, the currency closed at 452 to the greenback. Also on Tuesday, the external reserves hit an 11-year low of $24.61bn.

“Dollar is very scarce in the market right now because many people don’t know how low it will fall in the near term, so people are holding on to their hard currencies in order to watch the direction of the market,” one dealer said.

The President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators, Aminu Gwadabe, told Reuters that forex traders from neighbouring countries and some importers had also been moving in recently, mopping up dollars and putting pressure on the naira in a possible speculative bid.

Chronic dollar shortage plunged the local currency to a wave of depreciation, which economic and financial analysts have linked to speculative attack on the naira and increased demand from companies and individuals.

After trading between 423 and 425 for several weeks, the naira plunged to 428 last Wednesday. This came a day after the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee retained the lending rate at 14 per cent contrary to calls by the fiscal authority, economists and stakeholders.

Analysts have dismissed that recent declines had links to the MPC decision to retain the lending rate at the current rate.

However, at the interbank market on Thursday, the naira closed at 305.31 to the dollar, up from 312.99 on Wednesday.

Gwadabe said that the planned commencement of distribution of forex by Travelex could not hold due to some bottlenecks.

Travelex, an international money transfer organisation, ought to have begun the distribution forex to the BDC operators on Monday.

Its intervention was postponed to Wednesday, but again, it could not hold.

The ABCON leader had said the sale of forex to the BDC operators by Travelex would help to stem the tide of volatility in the exchange rate and subsequently close the huge gap between the official and parallel market rates.

He could not tell when Travelex would commence the sale of forex to the BDCs.

According to him, Travelex has the technology to sell forex to about 1,000 BDCs in a couple of hours, which is a major advantage.

He said the latest decline in the naira value was as a result of the activities of speculators.

A currency analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, said, “The rising exchange rates we are seeing at the parallel market now are not realistic. They have to do with the activities of speculators.

“However, we cannot rule out the fact that there is an acute and chronic shortage of FX; there is a genuine demand that the supply cannot match simply because inflows have dropped significantly.”

Gwadabe said, “Several sharp practices have been going on in the forex market and these elements want to continue making profits from the status quo. This is why they are speculating against the naira.

“They are attacking the naira. This is why the fall in the value of the naira is partly caused by the activities of speculators.”

Source:© Copyright Punch Online

Reps probe 16 oil marketers over alleged N500b debt

To boost government revenue, the House of Representatives has resolved to probe oil marketers who are indebted to the Petroleum Product Marketing Company (PPMC) by over N500 billion.
Adopting a motion under matter of urgent public importance sponsored by Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (Ogoja: PDP: Cross River), the House presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the huge debt and the alleged act of sabotage by the oil marketers in connivance with the management of the PPMC. The committee is to report back to the House within two weeks.

Moving the motion, Jarigbe alleged compromise by functionaries of the PPMC to leave government funds in the hands of marketers, thereby putting the country in dire financial straits.

“The complacency of the management of PPMC might compromise the interest of government and deprive the country of an opportunity of getting back funds that are arbitrarily in custody of a few individuals who intend to sabotage government and criminally convert the money that should rightly accrue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This act of criminality should be vehemently resisted.”
He listed the marketers indebted to the PPMC as Oando, Forte Oil, NIPCO, Total Oil, Coniol, Mobil Oil, Masters Energy Oil and Gas, Heyden Petroleum, Rahamaniya Petroleum, Amicable Petroleum, Aieteo Petroleum, Honeywell Oil, Capital Oil, Felande Petroleum, Sharon Oil and Zamson Petroleum.

The lawmakers also called on the authorities to expedite action to rehabilitate the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and rebuild the north east zone worst hit by the nefarious activities of the Boko Haram terror group.

While adopting a motion sponsored by Mohammed Nur Sherrif (Bama: APC: Borno), the lawmakers also enjoined the Committee on the North East Rehabilitation led by Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd) to make public those that pledged to assist, with the aim of getting them to redeem their pledges.

Also yesterday, members of the Committee on Public Accounts resolved to compel the appearance of the National Environmental Standard and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) over allegations levelled against them by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. It was learnt that the two agencies had ignored the invitation of the lawmakers thrice without any explanation.

The office periodically audits accounts of agencies of government and refer those alleged to be involved in deceitful spending to the National Assembly for questioning.Chairman of the committee, Kingsley Chinda said leaders of the agencies risked being arrested, as the only option left is for them to ensure that they account for their budgetary spending in the last administration.

“We cannot continue to allow government institutions to take us for granted because we represent the collective interest of Nigerians. Since we have invited them three times as required by the law and they have ignored us, we will mandate the clerk of the committee to write to the clerk of the National Assembly to issue warrants of arrest on them,” Chinda threatened.

The committee also condemned the Federal Ministry of Youth Development, which it alleged unilaterally diverted N104.863 million meant for developing the four National Youth Centres in Nigeria for other uses. The panel asked the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Christian Ohaa, who stood for the minister to ensure the refund of the money appropriated for the purpose in the 2010 budget to the treasury.

The ministry’s invitation by the committee followed a query made to it by the use of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation in accusing the ministry of failing to seek virement to use the sum for other purposes. The permanent secretary defended that the ministry took the decision due to the exigencies of the time.

The committee asked the ministry to return to the Federal Government, based on recommendations of the auditor-general’s office, the sum of N62. 504 million it claimed to have used in 2009 for clearing of site for establishing a youth development centre in Oyo State. Members of the committee said the amount was outrageous, especially as the contractor had been fully mobilised when the job was yet to be completed.
Meanwhile, six months after it rejected the “Gender Parity and Prohibition of Violence against Women” bill, the Senate yesterday reconsidered the proposal. The bill sponsored by Senator Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South) passed second reading.

On March 15, 2016, the Senate blocked the bill over claims that it was in conflict with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Olujimi had, among other things, advocated that if the bill was passed, a widow in Nigeria would automatically become the custodian of her children in the event of the death of her husband and would also inherit his property.

Source:© Copyright Guardian Online

Stockbrokers Want National Assets Sold Through Capital Market

Stockbrokers have said the federal government should sell its assets through the capital so more Nigerians can benefit from the exercise. The federal government is considering selling some of its assets to raise funds as part of efforts to come out of the economic recession.

Speaking on behalf of the stockbrokers on Wednesday in Lagos, the Chairman, Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), Mr. Emeka Madubuike said: “If the government wants to sell any of its assets as being contemplated, it should do so through the capital market so that Nigerian investors can become part owners of the assets.”

Some financial analysts have advised the government to borrow, sell assets to get funds that would be invested in infrastructure to move the economy out of recession. Although the government said it was yet to take a final decision on the sale of assets, the Senate has voted against the move.
However, Madubuike said should the government final decides to dispose of any assets, that should be done through the market.

Similarly, the President of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr. Oluwaseyi Abe said nothing was wrong in selling national assets that are under performing to save the economy.

“I believe there is nothing wrong if the government plans to sell assets that are not performing optimally. But caution should be applied in taking this decision. The country will surely come out of the recession if actions and measures being taken by the government are properly executed. I see us coming out of recession latest from the first quarter of next year,” Abe said.

The CIS boss had said the nation’s capital market can provide the needed capital that can take the country out of the current economic recession.

“The capital market can provide funds for the government and corporates. It has been doing so in the past and I believe the market has the potential to provide what funding needs of government and corporate bodies. What we need is products that will attract the capital from investors both domestically and foreign,” Abe said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All Share Index (NSE ASI) appreciated marginally by 0.04 per cent to close at 28,247.56 points. The appreciation recorded in the share prices of Unilever, Nestle, Forte Oil, Seplat and Oando were responsible for the gain.

Source:© Copyright Thisday Online

Ashaka Cement, GSK, Fidson emerge top market losers

Ashaka Cement Plc, GlaxoSmithkline Consumer Nigeria Plc, Fidson Healthcare Plc, Vitafoam Nigeria Plc and Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc emerged as the top five losers at the close of trading on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Thursday.

The NSE market capitalisation closed flat, moving from N9.699tn to N9.703tn, while the NSE All_Share Index closed at 28,247.56 basis points from 28236.23 basis points.

An aggregate of 365.374 million shares worth N2.09bn exchanged hands in 2,905 deals.

The highest index point attained in the course of trading was 28,263.16 basis points, while the lowest and average index points were 28,236.23 and 28,248.58 basis points, respectively.

The equity market closed relatively flat with the ASI edging four basis points amid mixed closes across key sectors. Global markets closed higher following a rally in oil prices as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries struck an accord to cut production for the first time since 2008.

The oil and gas sector recorded a 3.07 per cent appreciation and was the only key sector to close higher in Thursday’s session supported by 6.92 per cent gain in the share price of Oando Plc, five per cent rise in the share price of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited and 4.72 per cent appreciation in the share price of Conoil Plc.

While the industrial goods sector closed flat, the consumer goods sector snapped its five-session gaining streak as GSK’s share price dropped by 4.39per cent, Vitafoam share price dropped by 4.01 per cent and Nigerian Breweries Plc also dropping by 1.07 per cent.

These losses offset advances in Unilever Nigeria Plc and Nestle Nigeria Plc, which appreciated by 3.25 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively.

The financial services sector declined by 0.66 per cent, driven by2.25 per cent, 0.94 per cent and 0.51 per cent declines in Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, FBN Holdings Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, respectively.

The market breadth turned positive with 29 advances and 19 declines.

Commenting on the possible outcome of the next trading session, analysts at Vetiva Capital Management Plc, in the firm’s daily market analysis, said, “Although the widely positive market breadth somewhat suggests improvement in overall market sentiment, we highlight that most bellwether stocks remain under pressure and think this could weigh on the ASI at week close.”

Amid relatively unchanged liquidity, the interbank call rate moderated slightly to 14.33 per cent, dropping 34 basis points. In the foreign Exchange interbank market, the naira appreciated N7.68 to close at N305.31 but the one year forward rate rose N36.60 to N388.20.

The Treasury bills market traded relatively bullish as yields moderated 11 basis points on average. The declines were particularly stark on the long-dated bills as yields on the 322 day-to-maturity and 357DTM bills declined to 21.40 per cent and 22.16 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, the bond market continued its bearish streak with yields on most benchmark bonds inching higher. Notably, yield on the 12.50 per cent Federal Government of Nigeria March 2036 bond moderated 10 basis points to 15.03 per cent; but this was outweighed by advances in the yields of the 14.20 per cent FGN March 2024 and 12.14 per cent FGN July 2034 bonds as they closed at 15.02 per cent and 14.94 per cent respectively.

Source:© Copyright Punch Online

OPEC Reaches Deal to Cut Oil Output, Prices Rally

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) wednesday agreed to cut its oil output for the first time since 2008, with Saudi Arabia softening its stance on arch-rival Iran amid mounting pressure from low oil prices, reported AFP.

According to reports, two sources in OPEC said the group would reduce output to 32.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) from current production of 33.24mbpd.

How much each country will produce is to be decided at the next formal meeting of OPEC in November, when an invitation to join cuts could also be extended to non-OPEC countries such as Russia, sources said.

Responding to the news, oil prices jumped more than five per cent to trade above $48 per barrel after the outcome of OPEC’s informal meeting in Algeria took traders by surprise.
Still, many said they wanted to see the details of the deal. “We don’t know yet who is going to produce what. I want to hear from the mouth of the Iranian oil minister that he is not going to go back to pre-sanction levels.

“For the Saudis, it just goes against the conventional wisdom of what they’ve been saying,” said Jeff Quigley, director of energy markets at Houston-based Stratas Advisors.

Saudi Energy Minister, Khalid al-Falih, said on Tuesday that Iran, Nigeria and Libya would be allowed to produce “at maximum levels that make sense” as part of any output limits which could be set as early as the next OPEC meeting in November.

That represents a strategy shift for Riyadh, which had said it would reduce output to ease a global glut only if every other OPEC and non-OPEC producer followed suit.

Iran also argued that it should be exempted from such limits as its production recovers after the lifting of EU sanctions earlier this year.

The Saudi and Iranian economies depend heavily on oil, but in a post-sanctions environment, Iran is suffering less pressure from the halving in crude prices since 2014 and its economy could expand by almost four per cent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, faces a second year of budget deficits after a record gap of $98 billion last year, a stagnating economy and is being forced to cut the salaries of government employees.

Source:© Copyright Thisday Online

Naira plummets to all-time low of 472/dollar

The naira slumped to a new all-time low of 470 to the dollar on the parallel market on Wednesday, posting its biggest daily decline since the Central Bank of Nigeria adopted a flexible foreign exchange regime.

The local currency stood at 452 to the dollar at the close of trading on Tuesday, down from 445 against the greenback on Monday.

The naira closed flat at 312.99 against the dollar at the interbank market on Wednesday, according to data from FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange.

Traders and analysts said dollar liquidity remained a major challenge in the market amid surging demand pressure on the greenback by parents paying schools fees of their children studying overseas as well as travellers.

The President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, told our correspondent, “The rate is N472 to the dollar as we await the kick-off of the distribution of dollars to the BDCs by Travelex on Friday.

“As we speak, no bank is dispensing dollars to the BDCs. The BDCs’ accounts were debited by some banks since Monday and they are not able to pay any of the BDCs so far debited by them. This is really sending a bad signal in the market.”

A currency analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, said the parallel market was being used as a mirror of what the naira should be doing, adding, “For me, it may not really reflect naira’s performance. But basically, it is a demand and supply dynamics.”

According to him, the volatility in the parallel market will continue as long as the 41 items excluded from the official forex market remain banned.

“Around this time, a lot of people are paying school fees abroad and we see a lot of demand for forex for other sundry expenses or obligations. So, all of these will put pressure on the naira at the parallel market,” he added.

Noting that the naira had been relatively stable in the official market, Ezun said, “But the parallel market will always respond to liquidity, which is not available. The parallel market will help you to assess the level of liquidity in the market.

“So, if liquidity is high, we will see it in the parallel market. But as we speak today, there is no liquidity in the market, and that is why we keep seeing that volatility in the parallel market.”

The Ecobank analyst said the naira might hit 500 against the dollar in the coming days.

He explained, “The only way out is when there is dollar inflow into the market, and this is one of the reasons the CBN says it is not willing to cut the Monetary Policy Rate now. The idea is that why you are still trying to woo foreign investors into your fixed-income market, you should continue to be able to assure them of returns on their investment.

“What the CBN can do is to use monetary policy to keep encouraging inflows into the market.”

Source:© Copyright Punch Online

23 stocks depreciate as market sheds N4bn

The Nigerian Stock Exchange’s market capitalisation fell by N4bn as 23 stocks depreciated at the close of trading on the Exchange’s floor on Wednesday.

The NSE market capitalisation slid to N9.699tn from N9.703tn, while the All-Share Index closed at 28,236.23 basis points from 28,248.86 basis points.

A total of 159.046 million shares valued at N1.454bn were trading in 3,237 deals.

The NSE ASI declined by four basis points following continued mixed performances across key sectors.

The industrial goods sector weighed most on the ASI following declines in Lafarge Africa Plc to the tune of 2.02 per cent and Dangote Cement Plc by 0.27 per cent.

While the consumer goods sector extended its four-session gaining streak on the back of 1.36 per cent advance in Nigerian Breweries Plc shares, 4.59 per cent appreciation in GlaxoSmithkline Consumer Nigeria Plc and 2.80 per cent rise in Champion Breweries Plc share prices.

The oil and gas sector remained in negative territory due to 7.71 per cent loss in Oando share price and 2.75 per cent fall in Total Nigeria Plc shares.

The financial services sector fell by 0.07 per cent following mixed closes across players. Stanbic IBTC Group Plc shares appreciated by 3.16 per cent, Zenith Bank Plc by 1.15 per cent; while the share prices of Wema Bank Plc and Union Bank of Nigeria Plc declined by 4.35 per cent and 2.44 per cent respectively.

Market breadth remained even with 23 advances and 23 declines.

On the global front, Asian markets traded mixed amidst a relatively stronger Yen, whilst European stock traded higher as oil prices rose following a surprise decrease in the United States crude inventory. The US markets are set to open higher ahead of a barrage of Fed speakers.

On what will shape the next trading session, analysts at Vetiva Capital Management Plc, said, “The sustained even market breadth and persistent mixed performances across key sectors somewhat underscore that investor sentiment remains mixed. We believe this would continue to drive sideways trading in the sessions ahead.

Amid relatively unchanged liquidity, the interbank call rate moderated slightly to 14.67 per cent, representing a fall by 50 basis points. In the foreign exchange interbank market, the naira depreciated by one kobo to close at N312.99 while the one-year forward remained unchanged at N351.60.

Sentiment turned bearish in Wednesday’s session as yields on fixed income instruments trended upwards. In the Treasury bills space, yields climbed 20 basis points on average amid sell pressure on mid-dated maturities.

In particular, yields on the 148 day-to-maturity, 176DTM, and 225DTM bills closed at 19.83 per cent, 19.24 per cent, and 20.31 per cent respectively.

Likewise, the bond market turned bearish with yields on benchmark bonds advancing five basis points on average. The largest changes were on the yields of the auction bonds as the 15.54 per cent Federal Government of Nigeria February 2020 and 12.40 per cent FGN March 2026 bonds advanced six basis points and eight basis points to close at 14.89 per cent and 15.13 per cent respectively.

Source:© Copyright Punch Online

Value of Global Mergers and Acquisitions Declines by 27% to $1.8trn

The value of global mergers and acquisition (M&A) has declined by 27.4 per cent to $1.8trillion between January and August 2016, according to data obtained by THISDAY on Monday. The data contained in the Global Merger Report showed that value of M &A was $2.5 trillion between January and August 2015.

However, is has declined by 27.4 per cent this year. Monthly analysis of the data indicated that the value fell by 34.7 per cent to 946 deals worth $182.2 billion, the lowest value since August 2013.

Private equity was less active on the buyout side in August 2016 with only 138 deals worth $18.9 billion, down 51.3 per cent by value compared to the same period last year (199 deals worth $38.9 billion).

“Exits, on the other hand, were relatively stable with 138 deals worth $42.3 billion, a slight 1.1% decrease compared to August 2015 ($42.8 billion). Energy, Mining & Utilities (EMU) was the most active sector in August, contributing 15.8 per cent to the total global market share with 84 deals worth $28.8 billion, despite a 28.1 per cent drop compared to August 2015 ($40 billion),” Mergermarket intelligence said.

M&A activity targeting the Middle East & Africa region during August stood at 24 deals, worth $2.8 billion, showing a decline of 10.9 per cent compared to August 2015 when 30 deals, worth $3.1 billion was recorded. The highest valued inbound deal saw Singapore-based investment firm Yangon Investment acquiring a 52.3 per cent stake in Israeli insurance firm The Phoenix Holdings, for a total of $518 million.

In Africa, despite an overall decline in deals targeting the rest of the world, South Africa continues to dominate the region’s outbound M&A activity, accounting for a 39.2 per cent share in total outbound deal value. This figure has decreased 12.3 per cent by value to $5.9 billion in 2016, down from US$6.7bn during the same period of 2015. The deal volume, however, has increased by six to reach 21 deals to date in 2016.

According to Mergermarket intelligence, while cash-rich South African companies will continue to eye opportunities for diversification and exposure to hard currencies, many will wait to see how the British exit from the European Union (EU) could impact European growth prospects.

The continent has been one of the favoured deal destinations for South African growth due to similar time zones, relatively cheap debt and exposure to hard currency.
Domestic activity remained strong throughout 2016, with 118 deals worth $32.1 billion, representing a 192.9 per cent rise in deal value compared to the same period in 2015 ($11.0 billion in 175 deals). The transaction between South African firms Redefine Income Fund and The Pivotal Fund, valued at $756 million, was the largest deal targeting the region in August.

Source:© Copyright Thisday Online

Ashaka Cement, Presco, Caverton top losers chart

The shares of Ashaka Cement Plc, Presco Plc, Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc and Conoil Plc emerged as the top five losers at the close of trading on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

The NSE market capitalisation slid to N9.703tn from N9.708tn, while the All-Share Index closed at 28,248.86 basis points from 28,263.16 basis points.

An aggregate of 294.909 million shares valued at N1.413bn exchanges hands in 3,142 deals.

The highest index points attained in the course of trading was 28,263.16 basis points, while the lowest and average index points stood at 28,166.42 and 28,228.02 basis points, respectively.

A total of 20 stocks appreciated while 18 plummeted, according to NSE data.

The shares of Ashaka Cement closed at N18.02 from N19.95, losing N1.93 (9.67 per cent), while Presco shares shed N4 (8.89 per cent) to close at N41 from N45.

Similarly, Caverton shares plummeted by N0.08 (8.42 per cent) to close at N0.87 from N0.95, while the share price of Conoil Plc closed at N36 from N39, shedding N3 (7.69 per cent).

Also, Oando share price depreciated by N0.27 (4.82 per cent) to close at N5.32 from N5.59.

Other losers were Champion Breweries Plc, Livestock Feeds Plc, Ikeja Hotels Plc, AIICO Insurance Plc, Skye Bank Plc, 7UP Bottling Company Plc, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, NPF Microfinance Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, FBN Holdings Plc, Access Bank Plc, Forte Oil Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Cadbury Nigeria Plc and Nascon Industries Plc.

On the other hand, UAC Property Development Company Plc, Law Union and Rock Insurance Plc, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Cutix Plc and Flour Mills Nigeria Plc emerged as the top five losers.

UAC Property share price soared to N3.74 from N3.40, appreciating by N0.34 (10 per cent), while Law Union and Rocks Insurance shares closed at N0.61 from N0.57, gaining N0.04 (7.02 per cent).

The share price of Guinness gained N4.64 (4.99 per cent) to close at N97.64 from N93, while Cutix shares appreciated to N2.13 from N2.03, adding N0.10 (4.93 per cent).

Flour Mill shares also rose by N0.96 (4.56 per cent) to close at N22 from N21.04.

Source:© Copyright Punch Online

NCC writes AGF, demands N50bn paid by MTN

The Nigerian Communications Commission has written the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, demanding the transfer of the initial N50bn paid by MTN Nigeria Communications to the regulator’s account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed this in Abuja on Monday while answering questions from journalists at a press conference to mark the one year anniversary of his coming on board.

The NCC boss, who said the money had been lodged in a recovery account opened by the OAGF with the CBN, added that it needed to be transferred to the NCC account before it could be moved to the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government.

The commission had imposed a fine of N1.04tn on MTN Nigeria Communications Limited in October 2015 for failing to disconnect 5.2 million improperly registered subscribers from its network. After initial negotiations, MTN went to court.

However, in a twist, it withdrew the case out of the court and paid N50bn through the OAGF to show the government that it was ready to embark on full negotiation in a bid to settle the matter out of court.

There appeared to be crack in the government’s handling of the matter when the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, denied that his ministry and its agencies took part in the negotiation and subsequent receipt of the money.

When the government and the NCC eventually entered into fresh negotiations with MTN, the fine was reduced to N330bn spread over a period of three years. The initial N50bn paid by the company was regarded as the first instalment.

Danbatta said MTN had since paid another N30bn, which means that the company has so far paid N80bn, with an outstanding balance of N250bn.

The NCC helmsman also said that the regulator declined a request by MTN to acquire the spectrum being used by Visafone even though it approved the acquisition of 100 per cent shareholding in the company by MTN.

The nation’s chief telecom regulatory officer argued that the acquisition of Visafone’s frequency could perpetuate MTN’s dominant position in the Nigerian telecommunications market, adding that the NCC would subject the request to a public inquest.

Danbatta also said that MTN would roll out services on the 2.6MHz spectrum acquired through a bidding process.

He said, “In the recent wireless broadband frequency bidding process for the 2.6MHz spectrum by the commission, MTN Nigeria Limited emerged the winner of six slots. The licensing of frequency in this slot has suffered several setbacks until recently when six slots out of 14 made available by the commission were allocated for immediate deployment of 4G-LTE services.

“By the rollout plans for this service as provided by the winner, broadband services on this frequency spectrum will be available in the last quarter of 2016.”

He added, “We have initiated processes for licensing of more broadband services on the 5.4GHz spectrum band. We have opened the process for the allocation of frequencies in the 70/80GHz band (e-band).

“Approval has been given for the deployment of 4G Long Term Evolution Technology by NATCOM Development and Investment Limited, which has launched the first Voice over LTE call on February 25.”

Danbatta also announced that the country’s broadband penetration had reached 20.95 per cent.

“Equally, on the percentage of Internet penetration, the country has reached a milestone of 47.44 per cent, second to South Africa on the continent,” he said.

On unsolicited text messages, Danbatta said the NCC had constituted a task force to verify the compliance of telecoms operators with the directives issued to them.

He said the regulatory agency would not shy away from sanctioning operators found wanting.

Source:© Copyright Punch Online