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FirstBank partners Azuri Technologies to expand access to solar power

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, last Thursday signed a partnership with the Azuri Technologies to provide solar energy solution for the low-income areas.

The Deputy Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, said in Lagos that the partnership was aimed at proffering solutions to one of the major challenges facing the country today.

Shobo, represented by Tunde Owolabi, the Bank’s Group Executive, Retail Banking Group, Lagos & West, said that the focus is delivering power to millions of Nigerians; while at the same time enabling access to financial services in rural and low-income areas.

According to him, financial inclusion is a priority to FirstBank. “This is why we are excited about this partnership; because our customers will be able to access a wide range of services that address the real problem of access to power.

”This partnership with Azuri Technologies is one out of several of FirstBank’s partnerships. We have a track record of partnering with individuals and institutions to help meet the needs of our customers (children, women, youth, SMEs) and promote sustainable development in our host communities. Our partnerships cut across the Arts, Sports, Education, Health, among others; FirstBank has been at the forefront in ensuring ease of banking and convenience for its customers.

”Our Agent Banking Network (Firstmonie Agent) and digital banking offerings like Chat Banking on Whatsapp, FirstMobile app, Firstonline, and USSD banking, are some of the channels we have put in place to make this happen. We are therefore, very excited about the FirstBank-Azuri partnership and the positive boost it aims to bring to the nation’s economy through inclusive services.”

”Indeed, this is part of FirstBank’s 125 year-long passion for partnerships that are woven into the fabric of society,” he said.

Also, Mr Simon Bransfield-Garth, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Azuri Technologies, said that the company “is a leader in pay-as-you-go solar technology”.

Bransfield-Garth said: “Azuri brings affordable, modern consumer goods and services to the millions in sub-Saharan Africa without access to conventional power.

”Of the one billion people who lack access to electricity around the world, over 600 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. Pay-as-you-go solar power is connecting off-grid households to the modern digital world. From home lighting to satellite TV, Azuri-designed solutions deliver world class performance at an affordable price for customers who live away from mains power.”

”Azuri’s vision is to create a level playing field where all consumers can access and benefit from the digital economy, wherever they live” he concluded.

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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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