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Ambode Performs Pre-launch of $50M Factory In Lekki Free Zone

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Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday performed the pre-launch of a $50million manufacturing plant in Lekki Free Zone, expressing optimism that the facility would go a long way to create jobs and boost the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.

Speaking at the pre-launch of the factory belonging to Longrich, a Chinese firm, Governor Ambode said  the facility was another success story of the efforts of the State Government in attracting investment, as well as an eloquent confirmation of the strategic importance of the free trade zone to the State’s economy.

He said a total of 25 companies were presently setting up manufacturing plants within the zone, saying it was indeed gratifying that the efforts to drive investments were yielding positive results.

He said the most important thing to him is that whether in government or outside of government, factories were springing up in the zone, thereby creating job opportunities for the people and improving the economy of the State.

According to the Governor, “One of the most fulfilling feelings in life is to see one’s efforts yield positive results. It gives me immense satisfaction to be here today to witness this Pre-Launching Ceremony of Longrich Nigeria Manufacturing Plant to be located in the Lekki Free Zone in Lagos State, Nigeria.

“At the inception of this administration, one of our core focus areas was attracting investments to our State; to create employment for our people and wealth for our investors. Today’s event is one of those crowning moments that confirm that our efforts have been rewarded.”

Governor Ambode particularly commended Longrich Group of Companies for the decision to site the $50million factory in Lagos of all the cities and countries in Africa, saying the State and the country stand to benefit immensely from the investment.

“I have been informed that this Lekki Longrich facility, upon completion, would not only be the hub for the distribution of the products to the African sub-region but would provide employment for at least 1,000 new workers in our State and boost the nation’s foreign exchange earnings from exportation of manufactured products to other African Countries.

‘If we go by the success story of Longrich in China and the company’s track record, there is no doubt that Longrich Nigeria would be modelled after the world-class LONGLIQI Bio-Industrial Park in China which covers an area of more than 133 hectares and serves as location of LONGLIQI Bio-Science Co., Ltd,” Governor Ambode said.

While describing the firm as a global brand with range of top class quality products and unique business model, the Governor also lauded the fact that Longrich had created wealth for over 500,000 people who are trading in more than thirty brands of the company, with the majority of the traders residing in the State.

Besides, Governor Ambode assured that the State Government would continue to play its role as business enablers, especially by providing the necessary infrastructure and services required to support all investors and businesses who decide to make Lagos their home.

“Our administration has embarked on massive and ambitious projects. We have introduced public sector reforms and policies aimed at making it easier to do business in our State. Our governmental institutions like the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Office of Public Private Partnership and Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment (Lagos Global) are, more than ever before, in the fore front of providing an enabling business environment for local and foreign investments to thrive.

“These are just a few indicators to assure you of our commitment to securing not just Longrich’s investment in the South-West quadrant of Lekki Free Zone but to secure and attract more investments to our State,” he said.

The Governor, who described the  Lekki Free Zone as the flagship of the State Government’s industrial development drive, said aside the physical amenities, the facility also comes with a bundle of incentives that propel business prosperity. 

He added that with the ongoing gas pipeline laying to the zone nearing completion, power generation costs, which accounts for significant production cost, would soon be significantly reduced, just as he reiterated the commitment of the State Government to sustain the business environment and protect all investments in the State.

Earlier, Chairman of Longrich, Mr. Xu Zhiwei commended Governor Ambode for creating the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the State, saying it was on record that the Governor’s efforts made the setting up of the factory which would fully take off in October, 2019 possible.

“I want to thank Governor Ambode. He (Ambode) gave us the enabling environment; he gave us the full support; he embraced our dreams and believe in us.We can also feel the safety and security in Lagos State,” Zhiwei said.

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GTBank Releases Q1 2019 Unaudited Results…Reports Profit before Tax of N57.0Billion

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Guaranty Trust Bank plc has released its unaudited Financial Results for the quarter ended March 31, 2019 to the Nigerian and London Stock Exchanges.

The Bank recorded positive performance across all financial metrics with gross earnings for the period growing by 1.2% to ?110.3billion from ?109.0billion posted in March 2018. Profit before tax improved to ?57.0billion from ?52.6billion recorded in the corresponding period of March 2018, representing a growth of 8.3%. Customers’ deposits also rose by 6.0% to ?2.410trillion in March 2019 from ?2.274trillion in December 2018, whilst the Bank’s Loan book grew by 1.6% from ?1.262trillion as at December 2018 to ?1.282trillion in March 2019.

Balance sheet remained strong with the Bank closing the quarter ended March 31, 2019 with Total Assets of ?3.556trillion and Shareholders’ Funds of ?627.2Billion. In terms of Assets quality, NPL ratio and Cost of Risk closed 7.03% and 0.05% in March 2019 from 7.30% and 0.34% in December 2018 respectively. In addition, coverage for NPL stood at 90.12% while Full Impact Capital adequacy ratio remained very strong, closing at 22.25%. On the backdrop of this result, Post Tax Return on Equity (ROAE) and Return on Assets (ROAA) closed at 32.79% and 5.76% respectively. These indices are pointer to GTBank’s strategic positioning in Nigeria and other Countries where the Group operates.

Commenting on the first quarter results, the Managing Director/CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, said; “Going into 2019, we knew that it would be a challenging year, but our strategy and unwavering focus on delivering value for our customers and shareholders continues to underpin our ability to consistently deliver solid results despite changing market variables. We carried on the momentum of the previous year, posting strong growth in earnings, effectively managing costs and leveraging our digital-first customer-centric strategy to deliver world-class services that are simple, cheap and easily accessible.”

He further stated that; “Whilst ensuring the long-term growth of our business is the greatest value that we can create for our communities, we are also leveraging our resources, expertise and network to help people thrive. That’s why, from April 28 to May 1, 2019, we are organizing the biggest food and drink festival in Africa to give small businesses in the food industry the platform, network and access to the markets that they need to grow.”

GTBank has continued to be best in class in terms of Profitability, Efficiency and Capital among Peers and other Financial Institutions in Nigeria. This is evidenced by its Earnings per Share of ?1.74, Return on Equity (ROAE) of 32.79%, Cost to Income Ratio of 38.64% and Capital Adequacy of 22.25%. These metrics are a testament to the efficient management of the Bank. In recognition of the Bank’s bias for world class corporate governance standards, excellent service delivery and innovation, GTBank has been a recipient of numerous awards over the years. Some of the Bank’s recent awards include 2018 Bank of the Year – Nigeria from the Banker Magazine and 2018 Best Banking Group and Best Retail Bank Nigeria from World Finance Magazine. 

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”Stop panic buying, there Is enough fuel in circulation – NUPENG

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The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has advised Nigerians to stop panicking on rumours of fuel subsidy and an increase in the pump price.

A statement released a signed by the NUPENG South West Chairman, Tayo Aboyeji, states that Nigeria has enough petrol and diesel circulating in every state.

“Nigerians should stop spreading and listening to rumours of government removing fuel subsidy and increasing the pump price of fuel. We are not aware of such move, there is enough fuel in circulation and no increase has been made so far, ” Aboyeji said

The NUPENG boss cautioned Nigerians of the impending dangers of storing and stockpiling fuel at homes and shops, especially during this hot weather.

“Careless storage of fuel can lead to fire disaster both in the house or in the car,” Aboyeji advised.

Most fuel stations in many parts of the country have been thronged by anxious Nigerians buying petroleum products to store at home. 

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UBA,Sahara Energy In Messy Fight Over 15bn Loan.

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UBA Plc has filed a winding up petition against Sahara Energy Resource Limited (Sahara Energy) at a federal high court in Lagos.

The petition was based on a N15 billion loan owed by KEPCO Energy Resources Limited (KEPCO).

Sahara Energy had stood as a guarantor to KEPCO.

A winding up petition is a legal action taken by a creditor or creditors against an insolvent company that owes them money.

It can also be filed against a company or companies who have served as guarantors of the defaulter, and if approved by the court, will lead to a closure of or compulsory liquidation of all the debtors assets to repay the loan.

The petition was filed before Mohammed Liman, a judge of the high court, by Temilolu Adamolekun, UBA’s legal counsel.

The bank said KEPCO had through a loan, raised capital to fund the acquisition of Egbin Power Plant, operated by Sahara Power Group, a privately-owned power company under the Sahara conglomerate.

How the ‘N15 billion debt’ came about

In 2013, the federal government granted KEPCO, a Korean company 70% stake of Egbin power plant at a sale value of $407.3 million, which was equivalent to N64.35 billion at the existing exchange rate.

In order to fund that acquisition, the petitioner said KEPCO had applied for a credit facility from several banks, including UBA, with Sahara Energy standing in as a “corporate guarantor” to secure the loan.

FBN Capital Limited and First Nigeria Limited were appointed as the facility agent and security trustee respectively.

UBA had therefore granted KEPCO a loan to the tune of $35 million in August 2013.

The petitioner said KEPCO failed to meet its obligations even after restructuring the loan on two different occasions.

The interest on the rescheduled debt is said to have increased the facility to $42,282,430.49 or NN15,221,674,976.40 as of December 31, 2018.

The petitioner said Sahara Energy had been notified several times to fulfill its obligation as a guarantor but had not done so, hence the the need to file a winding up order.

“The company herein is insolvent and unable to pay its debt. In the circumstances, it is just and equitable that the company should be wound up,” the petition read.

The petitioner also sought “an order that the company, Sahara Energy Resources Ltd, be wound up by the court under the provisions of Companies and Allied Matters Act.”

Following an ex-parte motion filed by Adamolekun, the bank’s lawyer, Liman ordered that the winding up petition be advertised in the federal government’s official gazzette and a national daily newspaper.

But Sahara Group has denied being indebted to UBA, saying it neither has outstanding facilities with the bank nor did it borrow any money from UBA.

The firm added that it did not grant a direct guarantee to UBA on any loan transaction that UBA could unilaterally enforce or sue on.

“Our lawyers have been duly instructed and have taken all necessary steps to ensure that the order is discharged or set aside as soon as practicable,” Sahara Group said in a statement.

“Sahara Energy Limited (SERL) and the entire Sahara Group will vigorously pursue and defend UBA’s petition to its logical conclusion with a view to dismissing the petition.

“SERL will provide periodic updates to its esteemed clients, suppliers and bankers as may be necessary, of steps being taken in connection with the suits and the results of effort to set aside the order and strike out the suit.”

The hearing of UBA’s petition has been adjourned till April 30.

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