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HomeTop NewsNigerian banks launch N1 tln recapitalization effort amid regulatory push

Nigerian banks launch N1 tln recapitalization effort amid regulatory push

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The banking sector in Nigeria is poised for significant changes as four commercial banks move to raise over N1 trillion in the initial phase of a recapitalization drive aimed at strengthening their financial positions.

Fidelity Bank Plc, Access Holdings Plc, Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO) Plc, and FCMB Group Plc are leading the charge to meet new regulatory requirements set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN, under Governor Olayemi Cardoso, has emphasized the importance of recapitalization in creating resilient and fit-for-purpose banks capable of supporting economic growth and withstanding financial shocks.

The recapitalization effort, spanning two years, marks a critical step in ensuring the robustness of Nigeria’s financial system.

Intense Competition for Investor Funds

The first phase of the recapitalization involves a competitive race for investor funds, with Fidelity Bank, Access Holdings, GTCO, and FCMB seeking to raise approximately N1 trillion collectively. The goal is to increase their capital bases to meet the new minimum capital requirement of N500 billion each for banks with international licenses.

Access Holdings has already opened its acceptance list for a N351 billion rights issue, offering 17.773 billion ordinary shares at N19.75 per share. Fidelity Bank has launched a N127.1 billion hybrid offer, combining a rights issue and a public offer. GTCO is preparing a N400.5 billion public offer, while FCMB Group has secured approval for a N113.98 billion public offer.

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Strengthening the Financial System

Governor Cardoso, speaking at the launch of the book “The Power of One Man- How the Soludo-Engineered Consolidation Transformed Nigerian Banks to Global Players,” highlighted the significance of the ongoing recapitalization.

He noted that robust capital levels are essential for banks to absorb economic shocks and foster growth. Cardoso also pointed out the similarities between the current recapitalization and the 2004 banking consolidation led by former CBN Governor Chukwuma Soludo, which dramatically increased banks’ capital bases.

Regulatory Oversight and Future Prospects

The CBN’s recapitalization mandate includes a distinctive definition of minimum capital, focusing on the addition of share capital and share premium rather than total shareholders’ funds. This change necessitates fund-raising efforts by nearly all banks to retain their licenses. The current recapitalization process also aims to position Nigerian banks to better compete on the global stage.

Cardoso emphasized the need for banks to be adequately capitalized to navigate the economic challenges arising from forex rate unification and petrol subsidy removal. He also addressed the importance of controlling inflation to avoid the risks of hyperinflation, drawing comparisons with other countries facing similar economic issues.

Industry Reactions and Future Plans

The ongoing recapitalization efforts have garnered mixed reactions. While some see it as a necessary step to strengthen the banking sector, others, including families of victims of past banking crises, have expressed concerns over the adequacy of the measures.

Nonetheless, the CBN remains committed to the recapitalization agenda, with plans to maintain high-interest rates to control inflation and stabilize the economy.

As Nigerian banks navigate this period of significant transformation, the recapitalization efforts are expected to create a more resilient and competitive financial sector, better equipped to support the country’s economic aspirations.

(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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