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Access Holdings get regulatory nod to acquire majority stake in ARM Pensions

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Access Holdings Plc has gotten regulatory nod to acquire a majority stake in ARM Pensions.

Access Golf Nigeria Limited (‘Access Golf’), a majority shareholder of Access Pensions Limited (‘Access Pensions’) which is a subsidiary of Access Holdings, has received the ‘no-objection’ of the National Pension Commission and the approval of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for its proposed acquisition of a majority equity stake in ARM Pensions Managers (PFA) Limited (‘ARM’).

Subject to the receipt of relevant regulatory approvals, it is intended that following the acquisition, the operations of ARM and Access Pensions will be merged to create Nigeria’s second largest Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) by Assets Under Management.

Commenting on this transaction, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, the Group Chief Executive, Access Holdings, said, “We are pleased to have reached this transformative milestone in our pension fund administration journey. The proposed combination of ARM Pension with Access Pensions will not only create sustainable stakeholder value but will also contribute positively to the growth and development of the pension industry. We anticipate an exciting future for the combined entity.”

Speaking on the transaction, Jumoke Ogundare, the Group CEO of ARM Holding Company Limited said, “The market in which we operate is ripe for consolidation and I am confident that the proposed combination will create a formidable pension funds administration business leveraging Access Group’s expansive distribution network and innovation culture to deliver sustainable value to stakeholders.”

The completion of this transaction is contingent upon obtaining all requisite regulatory approvals. Access Holdings remains committed to keeping the market informed in line with its disclosure obligations.

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Stock market extends loss, index drops further by 0.53%

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The Nigerian stock market on Monday extended its losing streak by 0.53 percent due to losses in Tier-One banking stocks.

Specifically, the market capitalisation, which opened at N57.864 trillion, shed N304 billion or 0.53 percent to close at N57.560 trillion.

Similarly, All-Share Index fell by 0.53 percent or 537.44 points to settle at 101,777.12, compared to 102,314.56 posted on Friday.

As a result, the Year-To-Date (YTD) return slipped to 36.11 percent.

Losses in Tier-one banking stocks such as Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO), FBN Holdings, Zenith Bank, Access Corporation, Jaiz Bank, as well as Transnational Corporation, among other decliners, drove the market to a negative terrain.

Also, market breadth closed negative with 32 gainers and losers.

On the losers’ log, Fidelity Bank led by N1, to close at N9.

Jaiz Bank followed by 22k to close at N2.05 and RT Briscoe dropped 5k to close at 54k per share.

Also, GTCO lost N3.20 to close at N38.20, while Universal Insurance trailed by 3k to close at 36k per share.

On the flip side, UPDC Real Estate Investment Trust led the gainers’ chat by 13k to close at N1.43.

Morison Industries Plc followed with a gain of 25k to close at N2.81 per share.

NEM Insurance advanced by 85k to close at N10.40, while Daar Communications rose by 5k to close at 70k.

Oando Plc added 85k to close at N13.40 per share.

Analysis of the market activities indicated trade turnover settled lower relative to the previous session.

A total of 326.64 million shares valued at N7.17 billion were exchanged in 10,777 deals, as against 734.04 million shares valued at N21.59 billion in 12,491 deals on Friday.

On the activity table, United Bank of Africa (UBA) led in volume with 42.25 million shares traded in value of  N1.11 billion, Transcorp followed with 27.56 million shares worth N396.17 million.

Access Corporation sold 24.62 million shares valued at N465.81 million, Ondo traded 22.66 million shares worth N307.71 million and Fidelity Bank transacted 17.13 million shares worth N161.26 million.

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SEC, Capital Market Community to address challenges in the sector

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By Matthew Denis

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has disclosed that the Capital Market Committee (CMC) for the first quarter of 2024 is scheduled to be held virtually on Thursday, 18TH April 2024 to discuss challenges, brainstorm ideas and make informed decisions about the progress of the Nigerian capital market.

Critical issues about the capital market will be extensively dealt with at the meeting, the SEC stated.

According to the SEC, there will be a presentation of updates on major achievements from the various technical Committees such as Commodities Ecosystem Implementation Committee, E-Dividend and DCS, Financial Literacy and Non-interest Capital Market FLTC and many others driving the implementation processes of the Capital Market Master Plan.

CMC is an industry-wide committee comprising the SEC, representatives of capital market operators and trade groups, and other stakeholders.  The committee is a forum where stakeholders come together to engage in insightful discussions concerning the critical factors that impact the growth and organised functioning of the capital market, address the foremost concerns influencing the capital market, and work together to shape its future.

It was primarily established to serve as a medium for the exchange of ideas among market stakeholders as well as an avenue for providing feedback to the SEC on how to continuously address challenges, improve market operations, and enhance the regulatory framework.

Expected participants at the CMC meeting include Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of all registered capital market firms (i.e. Broker/Dealers, Investment Advisers, Custodians, Fund/Portfolio Managers, Receiving Banks, Issuing Houses, Rating Agencies, Registrars, Reporting Accountants, Trustees, and Capital Market Consultants, etc.).

Others are Chief Executive Officers of Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX), National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD); FMDQ Group Plc; Africa Exchange Holdings (AFEX); Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX); Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS); as well as representatives of relevant financial sector regulatory agencies, among others.

The usual interface with members of the Press will be held the following day Friday, 19th April 2024 through a Webinar.

Attendance at both events is strictly by invitation. All invited participants are expected to be seated by 9:45 am.

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BUA Foods Plc: Revenue rises 74.36%, as operating costs escalate in FY 2023

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The performance of Nigeria’s consumer goods companies in 2023 showed increasing divergence in performance and profitability positions as the effect of challenging macroeconomic conditions continued to impact operational costs and profitability positions of consumer goods industry players.

Despite these challenges, BUA Foods Plc demonstrated remarkable resilience, mirroring its strategy, and delivering double-digit growth.

The spectre of inflation loomed as businesses raised prices to cover surging input, operational, and finance costs. currency devaluation, escalating energy expenses, and heightened insecurity also remained elevated in 2023.

Households grappled with dwindling disposable incomes, eroding their purchasing power, and altering consumption patterns compared to preceding years.

The impact of this economic strain was acutely felt by lower-income households, while even those of average means found themselves grappling with the pervasive effects of rising inflation and challenging macroeconomic conditions.

In an outlook statement for 2023 and while delivering the FY 2022 financial report of BUA Foods Plc, Ayodele Abioye, the managing director of BUA Foods Plc, stated that “we remain resolute to navigate the numerous business headwinds to continue delivering double-digit growth with a sustained focus on our market expansion strategy across our business segments.”

This unwavering focus on strategy is what sets BUA Foods Plc apart, leading to its highest sector market capitalisation at N6.84 trillion and its position as one of the most profitable FMCG companies listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

Revenue and Profitability

BUA Foods Plc’s revenue continued its upward trend, as seen in the past four years. The company’s revenue grew by +74.36 percent to N729.44bn in FY 2023 from N418.35bn in FY 2022. Major contributors to the FY 2023 revenue were the sale of sugar (Fortified), flour and pasta, contributing 86 percent of the FY 2023 revenue. Despite +75.60 percent growth in operating profits to N206.32bn in FY 2023 from N117.49bn, growth in selling and distribution expenses and finance cost by +110.36 percent and +1,054.59 percent to N29.85bn and N100.68bn respectively had a major impact in squeezing pretax returns which grew only by +0.83 percent to N108.12bn FY 2023

Segmental Performance

In 2023, sugar (fortified) emerged as the primary driver of revenue growth for BUA Foods, closely followed by bakery flour and sugar (non-fortified). Molasses, the byproduct of the sugar refining process, made the smallest contribution to revenue.

Despite its significant growth, the wheat bran segment ranked fourth in revenue contribution. Nevertheless, the wheat bran segment holds promise within BUA Foods’ vertical integration strategy and segmental growth initiatives, showing notable potential for future revenue growth

Financial Position

The company’s assets rose by +76.28 percent in FY 2023 to N1,070.44bn from N607.22bn in FY 2022. Asset growth in FY 2023 is attributable to inventory growth, cash and cash equivalents, and, due from related parties, growth by +277.27 percent, +211.30 percent, and +265.60 percent, respectively. BUA Food’s Liability increased by +114.84%, driven by a +207.59 percent growth in total borrowings.

Shareholders’ equity capital climbed by +13.46 percent as growth in returns saw retained earnings grow by +13.95 percent in FY 2023 to N262.06bn from N230.96bn in FY 2022.

Cash Flow

BUA Food Plc’s cash position rose by +259.75 percent as cash and cash equivalents increased to N99.55bn in FY 2023 from N27.67bn, supported by a +212.06 percent growth in current borrowings.

Cash generated from selling the companies’ products and services increased as cash from operating activities rose by +21.72 percent from N124.47bn in FY 2022 to N151.51bn in FY 2023. Net cash received from investment activities grew to N34.59bn in FY 2023 from N15.44bn in a corresponding period in 2022.

Ratios

The fiscal year 2023 witnessed notable enhancements in BUA Foods Plc’s capability to fulfil its short-term obligations, as evidenced by improvements in the current and acid test ratios.

Specifically, these ratios advanced to 0.91 and 1.41, respectively, from 0.90 and 0.81 in the previous fiscal year.

However, the company experienced increased operational and financial costs, leading to a decline in the return on equity (ROE) by -4.57bps to 10.47 percent in FY 2023 from 15.04 percent in 2022. Similarly, the return on assets (ROA) observed only a marginal increase of +3.23bps in FY 2023, reaching 42.78 percent compared to 39.55 percent in 2022.

While the gross profit margin (GPM) expanded to 35.71 percent in FY 2023, reduced net earnings during the same period resulted in a decline of -6.47bps in the net profit margin (NPM) to 15.37 percent, down from 21.83 percent in the corresponding period in 2022.

Notably, BUA Foods Plc experienced a decrease in inventory turnover in FY 2023, with inventory growing to N112.28bn from N29.76bn in 2022. This inventory growth could have contributed to higher storage and holding costs for the FMCG industry leader.

Conclusion

Nigeria’s FMCG sector has been pressured by rising operating costs, growing inventories (probably because of lower demand), and steeper debt. The combination of these factors has doused investor enthusiasm. This does not imply that investors are largely pulling away from the sector, but they are looking closer at how economic fundamentals will affect the sector’s future earnings. Several suppliers have bitten the dust as rising costs and increased insecurity from farm gates to factory floors have squashed profit margins. Insecurity has led to a large pullback in miller suppliers, raising the cost of flour products and exported goods.

A sustained rise in the foreign exchange rate in 2023 led to FMCGs’ foreign exchange losses and put pressure on their costs of goods sold (COGS). Analysts expect the situation to be less severe in 2024 as the naira strengthens against other global currencies.

However, for FMCGs to reduce inventories and lower their prices to encourage higher domestic demand, the domestic security situation must improve, and multiple logistics levies must be tackled.

According to a manager at one of the companies who requested anonymity, ‘with energy costs going up (the federal government has approved a 200% increase in energy tariff for band A power sector consumers), FMCGs will see further operating cost pressures on their bottom lines. Profit margins may be squashed like pancakes.’

He further observed that ‘FMCGs will have to pull out all the stops to get several costs down. BUA has some temporary tax shields from its pioneer status for its pasta and flour milling plants, but the reliefs have started ticking down from last year; the truth is that depending on temporary reliefs for a strategic plan is like swimming in the ocean until the tide runs out, then we will know whose swimming shorts are dangling around their ankles.’

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