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N2bn Scam: Court adjourns trial of Agric entrepreneur, Ovaioza to July 12

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Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned the trial of Ovaioza Yunusa who was alleged to be involved in a scam of N2 billion to July 12, 2023.

The presiding Judge, Justice Gladys Olotu adjourned the case because the defense parties failed to appear before the court when the matter came up Tuesday.

The Federal Government had sued Ovaioza and her company, Ovaioza Farm Produce Storage Business (OFPSB) on charges bordering on Advanced Fee Fraud.

Ovaioza along with Imu Yunusa and Goodness Omeiza were alleged to be operating as fund managers without reg­istration by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) among others.

The SEC had in March 2022 sealed up the 27 Abeokuta Street, Garki Abuja office of the compa­ny on suspicions of illegally col­lecting money from the investing public to the tune of N2bn while not registered with the Commis­sion.

In the five count charge brought against the company and its promoters by the Feder­al Republic of Nigeria, they were alleged to have on or between the year 2020 and 2022 within the ju­risdiction of the honourable court did commit a felony to wit: with common intent conspired among themselves together with their staff to do an illegal act.

They were alleged to lure and offer for subscription an unregistered collective invest­ment scheme valued over N2bn to the unsuspecting general public including Umejiaku Chi­kodili Crystal, Omolabake Ale, Dr. Obi Sandra P., Nnaemeka Franklin Ugwoke, Fonon Ismai­la Malum, Kelechi Anayo, Nkiru Onyima, and others.

The charge reads, “That you Imu Yunusa, Good­ness Omeiza and Ovaioza Farm Produce Storage Business; all of house No. 27 Abeokuta Street, Area 8 Garki, on or between the year 2020 and 2022 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did commit a felony to wit: lured and offered for subscrip­tion an unregistered collective investment scheme valued over N2 billion to the unsuspecting general public including Ume­jiaku Chikodili Crystal, Omola­bake Ale, Dr. Obi Sandra P., Nnae­meka Franklin Ugwoke, Fonon Ismaila Malum, Kelechi Anayo, Nkiru Onyima, and others. You thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable un­der Section 54 of the Investments and Securities Act, 2007.

“That you Imu Yunusa, Good­ness Omeiza and Ovaioza Farm Produce Storage Business; all of house No. 27 Abeokuta Street, Area 8 Garki, on or between the year 2020 and 2022 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did commit a felony to wit: conspiracy of forming a com­mon intention amongst your­selves together with your staff to do an illegal act – diversion of investment funds valued over N2 billion belonging to the investing public including, Umejiaku Chi­kodili Crystal, Omolabake Ale, Dr. Obi Sandra P., Nnaemeka Franklin Ugwoke, Fonon Ismai­la Malum, Kelechi Anayo, Nkiru Onyima, and others. You thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. “

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Investors close week with N52bn profit

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Investors in the Nigerian equities market ended the week with a N52 billion gain on Friday.

This followed an increase in the share price of Guinness, etranzact, and Unity bank amongst others on the trading floor today.

After five hours of trading at the capital market, the equity capitalisation increased to N56.527 trillion from N56.474 trillion posted by the bourse on Thursday.

Similarly, the All-Share Index (ASI) increased to 99,925.29 from 99,221.14 recorded the previous trading day.

The market breadth was positive as 31 stocks advanced, 17 declined, while 74 others remained unchanged in 7,302 deals.

Guinness, etranzact, and Unity Bank led other gainers with 9.95 percent, 9.89 percent and 9.84 percent growth in share price to close at N60.25, N5.00, and N1.34 from the previous N54.80, N4.55, and N1.22 per share.

On the flip side, Academy, CWG, and Prestige led other price decliners as they shed 9.85 percent, 9.40 percent, and 5.56 percent each to close at N1.83, N0.55, and N0.51 from the initial N2.03, N5.85, and N0.54 per share.

On the volume index, Sterlingng led trading with 42.259 million shares valued at N1.75 billion in 94 deals followed by Zenith bank which traded 28.033 million shares in 482 deals worth N1.008 billion.

Fidelity bank traded 25.104 million shares valued at N2.48 billion in 192 deals.

On the value index Zenith bank recorded the highest value for the day trading stocks worth N1.008 billion in 482 deals followed by GTCO which traded equities worth N635 million in 313 deals.

Seplat traded stocks worth N438 million in 72 deals.

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Recapitalisation: Wema Bank gets regulatory approvals for N40bn rights issue

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Wema Bank says it has successfully concluded the first tranche of its recapitalisation exercise having secured all relevant regulatory approvals for the allotment of its N40 billion rights issue.

Its Managing Director, Mr Moruf Oseni, disclosed this in a statement made available on Friday in Lagos.

Oseni said as a forward-thinking and pioneering bank, the financial institution in December 2023 launched N40 billion rights issue which had been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

CBN in March, launched a recapitalisation programme requiring commercial banks to raise fresh capital.

This is in alignment with the minimum requirement for their respective banking licenses within a 24-month timeline spanning April 1 to March 31, 2026.

The goal of recapitalisation is to simultaneously boost the Nigerian economy and strengthen its financial services industry.

Oseni said: “With this remarkable development, Wema Bank has now successfully raised the first tranche of its plan in the minimum requirement laid down by the CBN.

“The bank’s resolve in retaining its commercial banking license with National authorisation and the N40 billion rights issue is a step in that direction.

“Our move to commence our capital raise programme very early demonstrates our push for excellence, and with a strong emphasis on our digital play, we are set to amass more successes in the coming months,” he said.

The managing director expressed satisfaction with the vote of confidence given by the bank’s shareholders during its first rights issue exercise, noting that its shares were fully subscribed.

Oseni stated that the bank also obtained the approval of its shareholders at its 2023 annual general meeting to raise an additional N150 billion to meet the capitalisation threshold set by the CBN.

He hinted that the process was expected to be completed within 12-18 months.

Oseni said: “We are committed to providing optimum returns for every stakeholder and the successful conclusion of this N40 billion rights issue is a bold step in the right direction.

“In addition to the upward trend in the bank’s financial performance and the success recorded so far in its recapitalisation exercise, Wema Bank’s corporate rating was recently upgraded to BBB+ by Pan African credit rating agency, Agusto and Co.

“The bank was also retained at BBB by international rating agency, Fitch.”

According to him, over the medium to long term, Wema Bank is positioned to not only dominate the digital banking space but also the Nigerian financial services industry at large as it translates its industry leadership to significant market share.

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Ecobank to raise $600m debt in the next one year

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Ecobank Transnational Incorpora ted (ETI) will raise $600 million through senior secured debts and tier-2 debts over the next year.

This was one of the resolutions from the group’s Annual General Meeting which took place in Lome, Togo on June 6, 2024.

In the notice containing the AGM resolutions, it was contained

“The General Meeting hereby authorises the board of directors to raise within a period of one year from the date of this meeting up to Six Hundred Million United States Dollars (US$600,000,000) in senior-ranked debt, Tier 2-qualifying subordinated debt or a combination of these forms of instruments as the board of directors may deem appropriate.”

Senior ranked debts are a type of debt that has priority over other debts in terms of claims on the assets of the issuer. This means that senior-ranked debt holders are paid before other creditors, such as subordinated debt holders.

Tier 2-qualifying subordinated debt is a type of subordinated debt that qualifies as Tier 2 capital under banking regulations.

It ranks below senior debt but above equity in the event of liquidation, meaning it is riskier than senior-ranked debt but less risky than equity.  An example of tier-2 debts is the $350 million Tier-2 Sustainability Notes listed by ETI on the London Stock Exchange in 2021.

Recall that in April 2024, Ecobank Transnational successfully repaid a $500 million Eurobond which matured on April 18, 2024. The Eurobond, issued in April 2019, was listed on the London Stock Exchange with a coupon rate of 9.5 percent.  This was the group’s inaugural Eurobond, however, its subsidiary, Ecobank Nigeria issued a dollar-denominated bond in 2014.

In 2014, Ecobank Nigeria issued its first ever dollar-denominated bond, a $200 million bond which was listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. The bank received advisory services from the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim).

And there was an oversubscription on the bond offering.

Then in June 2021, Ecobank Transnational issued $350 million Tier 2 Sustainability Notes, which were listed on the London Stock Exchange. According to the group, these notes were oversubscribed by over 3.6 times, reaching a subscription of $1.3 billion.  The notes which mature in June 2031, will pay an annual interest rate of 8.750% between June 2021 and June 2026. However, from June 2026, the interest rate will change to a new rate called “Reset Interest Rate”.  It was noted in the group’s “Sustainable Finance Framework” that proceeds from the sustainable financing instruments such as the sustainability notes would be used to finance and/or refinance, in whole or in part, green and/or social projects.

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