Investigation Reveals Where Bank Loans Went Bad

searching-manA Fortune&Class in-house panel of experts has, after a review of the bad loans accrued to the five banks currently under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s direct supervision, submitted that the Federal Government holds largest liability in repayment to the banks. The committee of experts nonetheless observed that the figures made public by the CBN also affirmed that the affected bank officials must have been heavily involved in unethical manipulation of the stock market even as the panel agreed that the banks, indeed, tried to play their economic role of financial intermediation by providing a big chunk of their facility for real sector activities.

The conclusions of the panel’s review may put the lies on the generalized opinion prevalent in the public place of the bulk of the five banks financing going into loans for stock market trading and the importation of petroleum products.

The panel reports that 51 per cent of the N747,000,000,000 alleged bad loan, approximated at N375,487,000,000 was given out by the banks to the real sector. The classification of the real sector, in the consideration of the panelists includes activities in construction, manufacturing, imports of raw materials for industries, farming and telecommunications.

Interestingly, the panel reports that a mere 22 per cent of the N747billion bad loan aggregated at N163billion can be attributed to the stock market while N218billion, about 27 per cent of the bad loan has been tracked to have been borrowed by players in the oil and gas sector.

The Case For Union Bank

barth ebongTaken on individual profiling, Fortune&Class panelists submit that the sanctioning of Union Bank managing director should raise questions because of the five banks under the CBN’s thumb, Union Bank’s hope of recovering its bad loan is more assured because the bulk of the bad loans atissue are facilities given to entities in the real sector.

Of the total N73.582billion bad loan attributed to Union bank N66billion summed up to be loans to the real sector. The bank’s only stock market related bad loan is the N1,291,737,218 granted to GMT Securities.
In the same vein, the bank’s only outstanding to the oil gas sector is the N6,251,658,228 taken by Zenon Oil and Gas. Panelists argue that Zenon has a higher likelihood of paying up because of its track record in the oil and gas sector.

It is not, however, a shared optimism, as in the hope of recovery of the bad loan from a company like Femi Otedola’s owned Zenon when compared to the N28.5billion Oceanic Bank is expecting Rahmaniyya Global resources, a company in the petroleum products marketing sector, to repay it.
Rahmaniyya’s operations are reportedly hampered at the moment.

Crosscheck of operations at the Apapa depot of the company shows that not much activities are going on there. A senior staff of the company confides that operations have been hampered because of the company’s huge indebtedness to banks. The official took time to protest that the company’s situation became bad because an appreciable percentage of the loans secured at commercial banks were usually given out as kick backs to officials of the banks where the loans originated from.

Where Oceanic Bank May Lose Out

cecilia ibruAs a stand alone, Oceanic Bank’s loans are locked into the real sector, that is about N122billion of a total N278.2billion. The worrisome aspect of the bank’s bad loan portfolio, as it were, would be the N56billion exposure to the stock market. This figure aroused much concern because just six companies, as recorded, were found worthy enough to enjoy margin loan from the bank. The panelists reasoned that what the figures suggest is that officials of the bank merely decided to employ the services of this small number of stockbrokers to help it exploit the stock market.

The panelists also submit that the larger percentage of Oceanic Bank’s expected repayment from the bad loans tracked to the oil and gas sector of about N100billion hold no prospect of recovery in consideration of the track records of most of the entities that secured the loans.

Intercontinental Bank shares the same fate that may befall the recovery efforts of Oceanic Bank. With N34billion outstanding from just seven stock-broking houses most of which have continued to dispute the figures in the public domain.

Bad Loan Recovery Challenges For Intercontinental Bank

akingbolaAs in the case with Oceanic Bank, all of the brokerage houses involved have protested that the loan accounts were opened jointly with the banks. Some even complained that they never received any cheque book on the account that was in the joint names of the brokerage house and the bank.

In different letters of protest forwarded to the banks, some of these brokerage houses had hinted at being asked to engage in stock market manipulation by the bank. One of such protest letters written and forwarded to Intercontinental bank which Fortune&Class got a copy, reads:
“…Your bank also included clauses in the contract that gives you the sole right to decide which stock can be purchased and when such can be sold. The records presented to us even show that some of the shares purchased with the margin loan included the stock of your bank.”

The letter from the lawyer tells of more worrying aspects of the margin loan where it notes that:
“Our client mentioned the fact that they never solicited the loan but rather your bank approached them with the offer of the loan…even as their accounts were debited for the processing and management fees for the transaction before they had even had any opportunity to review or sign the offer letter.”
For our panelists, it is issues like these that may stunt efforts to recover the bad loans for Intercontinental Bank. This is besides the crisis of the Federal Government non-payment of petroleum products subsidy differentiation to oil marketers that secured a large part of the N79billion loan that was used in importing petroleum products into the country.

‘Afribank played big in the Stock Market…sure to lose big’

sebastineNot even the EFCC Chairman can yet fathom how the five companies that Afribank granted about N60billion to trade the stock market, would pay back their exposure in the current lacklustre stock market.

Whose interest was the bank management advancing by farming out the huge sum of N60billion to just five entities? Again, it is believed that the bank played big in the stock market to forward its interest. “That N60billion cannot be recovered in the short term,” one of our panelists said.

Finbank Liberal Lending Policy

okeyOf the five embattled banks, Finbank Plc profiles a liberal lending culture. Though we can’t say for certain how the loans were collaterised, the fact of farming out its loan to a larger number of borrowing entities compared to other banks in the bad loan quagmire, suggests that recovery of debt may be easier Finbank.

The bank’s total non-performing loans as calculated by the CBN is approximated at N42.4billion. Of this, about N15billion was borrowed out to 83 operators in the real sector. This is just as the total sum of N11.1billion bad loan accruing from stock market activities, was granted to nine entities with the highest calculated to still owe about N3billion.

The same liberal lending policy shows in the figure of the loans repayment of N14billion from 17 entities in the oil and gas sector.

The Sector That Is Sure For Repayment

Our panel of experts are of the opinion that bad loans accrued in the real sector may easily be recovered because of the quality of collaterals that would have been provided before approval to draw down. This, however, excludes any insider related dealings.

Compared to loans to the real sector, recovery of bad debts accrued from stock trading activities may be considered hopeless in consideration of the state of the Nigerian stock market, the macro-economic environment and the harsh realities of the global economic meltdown. The collaterisation of loan assets in margin loan is linked to securities purchased, the lender is, however, supposed to dispose of with the securities in the open market when prices go below an agreed threshold. But it turned out that these banks didn’t effect the power of cashing the securities by selling off when the prices of the securities slid below the agreed threshold. Thus, the lenders are left with collaterised securities that are way below the worth of the loans.

Same is the extant downside of the oil and gas sector. With consistent sliding petroleum product prices and the unwillingness of the Federal Government the only buyer of petroleum products in Nigeria, to pay up the difference between the landing cost of petroleum products in the country and the price at which the marketers are mandated to sell to retailers, the expectation of bad loan recovery from the entities in these sector may be challenging.

Who Is Paying Up

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said that it had so far recovered a sum of N25.5billion out of the N1.143 trillion of total non-performing loans of the five banks.

The break-down of recovered debt and the banks are as follows; Intercontinental bank N7, 736, 571, 744.19; Finbank.N1, 590, 417, 332.05, AfribankN7, 551, 121, 378.69, Oceanic bankN8, 033, 481, 868.65; Union bank N659, 240, 400.78.

Executive Directors Took N5bn Unsecured Loans Each

More troubling revelations have continued to emerge from the banking industry in the wake of the sack of five bank chiefs and members of their senior management cadre. Some top banking industry staff have started talking of the justification of the action of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to sanction the affected bank chiefs and their senior management cadre because of their connivance to fleece the bank.

Specifically, the entire management board of one of the banks is said to being investigated by the CBN to ascertain how each Executive Director got approval of N5billion loan facility.

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IBRU FAMILY RECRUITS SENATE LEADERSHIP, PRESIDENT’S WIFE TO SAVE CECILIA

Vol 2 Issue 31 magazineThe Ibru family reportedly threw all its influence and moneyed privileges into the battle to mitigate the public embarrassment of Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, sacked Managing Director of Oceanic Bank and wife of the patriarch of the Ibru’s clan, Olorogun Michael Ibru.

Details emerging in the wake of the sudden appearance of the erstwhile Managing Director of Oceanic Bank at the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last Wednesday, indicate that the wife of the Chairman of the Ibru organization was advised to beat a tactical retreat to allow the family deploy its massive goodwill in the nation’s political arena to stave off the prospect of an embarrassingly long detention for Mrs. Ibru by the EFCC.

Knowledgeable insiders to the horse trading that led to the eventual emergence of the woman fondly revered as the Nigeria’s first lady of banking, confided in Fortune&Class Weekly that the Ibru family pulled all the plugs through the Senate and the Presidency to get certain assurances from the EFCC before Mrs. Ibru was given the green light to submit herself at the EFCC.

“Seriously, we have only heard about the ingenuity of the Ibru family in making money, but I was a witness to another aspect of their lives these past days when I experienced their ability to move around and lobby office holders to intervene in the roiling crisis that had claimed one of their own, Mrs. Ibru. It’s not as if you saw any of the Ibrus physically, but there were many people lobbying on her behalf especially at the Senate,” the source said.

“You know, the second day after the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido (Sanusi) made those earth shaking pronouncements about sacking five bank chief executives, the President left the country in company with his wife, Turai. The next level of authority, in the real sense of it, at that time, was the Senate. And it was to the Senators that the Ibru lobbyists took their battle to get political pressure to be applied on the EFCC boss to provide lighter treatment and shortened detention for Mrs. Ibru. The fulcrum of the argument of the lobbyists is that the Central Bank of Nigeria was making a mountain out of a mole hill by its decisions to sack the bank managing directors and their arrest by the EFCC.

“The lobbyists pleaded with the leadership of the Senate to prevail on the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, to make a commitment to making Mrs. Ibru’s detention before taking her to the court as short as possible.

“Of course, they got sympathetic ears in the Senate. The Senate leadership made overtures to the Chairman of the EFCC who insisted that Mrs. Ibru must first surrender herself to the anti-grafts agency before she could determine the next step.

“Hajia Binta Turai, wife of President Umar Yar’Adua also played a peripheral role in the Ibru EFCC saga. Two of the first lady’s friends were drafted to talk to the EFCC Chairman to provide a soft landing for Mrs. Ibru, the source said.

Mrs. Ibru had, as part of her battle to stop her arrest and detention, dragged the Central Bank of Nigeria and its governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi before a Federal High Court in Abuja over her compulsory removal from office, demanding the sum of N50 billion for “exemplary, punitive and aggravated and general damages.”

The EFCC, however, declared Mrs. Ibru and Mr. Erastus Akingbola of Intercontinental Bank wanted on Sunday, 23 August, after failing to honour invitations for interrogation, sequel to their sack on August 14 along with three other bank MDs, Mr. Sebastine Adigwe of Afribank, Okey Nwosu of Finbank and Bartholomew Ebong of Union Bank.

A statement issued by EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Femi Babafemi, explained that Ibru and Akingbola “are wanted in connection with fraudulent abuse of credit process, insider trading, capital market manipulation and money laundering running into billions of Naira.”

Investigation Reveals Where Bank Loans Went Bad
akingbolaA Fortune&Class in-house panel of experts has, after a review of the bad loans accrued to the five banks currently under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s direct supervision, submitted that the Federal Government holds largest liability in repayment to the banks. The committee of experts nonetheless observed that the figures made public by the CBN also affirmed that the affected bank officials must have been heavily involved in unethical manipulation of the stock market even as the panel agreed that the banks, indeed, tried to play their economic role of financial intermediation by providing a big chunk of their facility for real sector activities. (read more)

EXPERTS PREDICT BLEAK XMAS FOR STOCK MARKET PLAYERS…NSE DG SAYS CNN FRIGHTENED NIGERIAN INVESTORS

In an extension of the warnings of FORTUNE&CLASS Weekly to investors not to be quick to excitement in the wake of the sudden resurgence of stock prices at the stock exchange, some stock market analysts have predicted a bleak Christmas season for stock investors that are hopeful of making some gains in the market to supplement their expenditures during the Yuletide season.

FORTUNE&CLASS Weekly, had, in a special review of the stock market in its issue 43, informed the investing public to be wary in rushing to the market in the expectation of reaping a bounty because of the surge in price. The report revealed that the ascendancy of the bull in the market was merely a machination of the early birds institutional investors and financial institutions that had, in collaboration with selected stockbrokers, driving market prices of targeted stocks with intention to dump when prices of the selected stocks attain pre-determined price threshold.

With the market reversal to the pre-eminence of the bears as characterized by persistent price declines, market analysts have dared to warn that the market till the second quarter of next year (2009) will be a play ground for institutional and financial sector speculators that have some liquidity to play the market to recoup losses earlier incurred.

“An overview of the market shows that most institutional players and financial sector investors are only interested in salvaging what they can of the loses they made when the market started experiencing the downturn.” One of the analysts reasoned.

“The fact is that this category of investors entered the market when stock prices were at the bullish high, just at about that time prices commenced dramatic fall. So, what these investors are doing now is to raid the market which, in truth, has many fundamentally strong stocks that are selling at rock bottom prices. Before the return to the recent round of price decline, you will observe that about eight stocks appreciated by 25 percent and above, so, it made good business for these speculators to dump their shares and take profit. This is what led to the market slip to the bears once again.”

Speaking on the prospect of a stock market rebound as the Christmas season approaches, another market analyst said the illiquidity in the market still persist just as confidence building by regulatory authorities falters.

“The hope of a rebound in the market as Christmas approaches is quite bleak. Do not forget that we have two major celebrations in December, that is, the Idel Fitri and Christmas. Now, most people would want to raise money for the pleasure of these two celebrations. Either the market is low or not, there are so many investors whose store of wealth is actually locked-in in their stocks, so naturally, they will approach the market to sell what they can dispose off. This will add to the surfeit of stocks in the market and, of course, when there is a continuation of stock dumping, the market appreciates in the negative.

“I must, however, say that this review is not absolute, government may decide to intervene before then or the Central Bank of Nigeria may introduce some revolutionary approach to salvage the market from the bears, however, if this is not done, I think market speculators would become set in their ways. The scenario I see is that a number of high profile stock broking firms with the banking of some commercial banks can target selected stocks, conduct a raid on them and once the prices appreciate to a certain level, they sell off within a short period. This is what we experienced about two weeks ago.” The analyst posited.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Prof. (Mrs.) Ndi Okereke-Onyuike has argued that Nigerian investors were frightened away from the capital market by the global influence of the Cable News Network (CNN).

In a chat with Proshare Nigeria, an online investment focused platform, Prof. (Mrs.) Okereke Onyuike explained that the global phenomenon ought not to affect the nation’s capital market.

“What happened the last time was a global phenomenon; which ought not to affect our market; because the fundamentals of quoted companies in our Nation’s Stock Exchange are strong and resilient. Investors always join the bandwagon; however, the global influence of the CNN actually frightened our investors and caused the panic selling.” The Stock Exchange DG said.

“As these investors observed events, every market in the world was coming down, they did not realise that these Markets were coming down due to certain fundamental issues that went wrong in the Western economy. Investors in Nigeria believed that as things were coming down in places like New York, London, Paris and other advanced economies; that Nigeria would also be affected and maybe worst hit. They didn’t realise that in our case we are not too exposed to foreign investors. Maybe their (foreign) participation in the market is less than nine percent (9%). This coupled with Portfolio Managers who dumped shares and even then, the dumped shares were bought over by Nigerians. Therefore, it was the media panic; specifically CNN that frightened our investors.” Prof. Okereke-Onyuike further affirmed.

Pleading with investors to resume participation in the Nigeria stock market, the DG said: “I am urging Nigerian investors to come back to the Market, there is no need running away from it. We are trying to rebuild the confidence in the Nigerian Capital Market because our quoted companies are resilient with strong fundamentals. Take for instance an organisation like Union Bank of Nigeria Plc (UBN). What are the reasons investors would not want to buy shares of the Bank? The Union Bank stock is selling and has strong fundamentals coupled with a superlative performance.

“Most of our quoted companies, about 90 percent (90%) of them, are doing well. They have not really been affected by the global meltdown. The glut of shares in the market that contributed to its temporary meltdown was due to the fear created by media like CNN on issues relating to the Western World, with this development, like I said earlier on, the Nigerian investors thought that it would be worst in the country; thereby they started dumping their shares.

“However, I think that investors are beginning to gain back confidence in the market and they are also observing that there is nothing wrong with our quoted companies. Those in the Manufacturing, Banking and other sectors are doing well bringing out their results. There goods and services are more in demand than supply, so there is nothing wrong with the market like I said earlier.” The DG elucidated

Noting that it would be a while before the stock market drives its way back to the highs it attained before the decline, Prof. Okereke-Onyuike said: “This is the best time to invest though it will take a little while for the share prices to go back to the original levels they were. Therefore, I advise investors who have liquidity to buy shares in the nation’s stock market; the best time to buy is when prices are low,” She explained.

REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT MAY BE IN TROUBLE SOON – EXPERTS WARN

Many investors have taken a flight to the safety of real estate in the aftermath of the worrisome protracted correction that had turned the Nigerian stock market into the grazing ground of the bears with stock prices continuously hitting new bottoms by the day.

Analyzing the prospects of a downturn in the real estate sector, a second tier bank managing director explained that the frenzy of investors’ movement to the real estate sector would end up in creating artificial value for property which, as result, will lead to a correction in the sector.

“Everybody is now rushing to the real estate sector because the stock market is no longer providing the kind of capital appreciation we witnessed up to March this year.” The bank’s MD observed.

“But the problem I see is that not many people are giving consideration to proper valuation of property. Like it happened in the stock market, the herd mentality is being enacted in the real estate sector, especially those that are rushing to take position in highbrow areas. For instance, in the Lagos area, most investors think that properties in the Lekki-Ajah corridor would continue to appreciate forever. This is a wrong notion because the price of these properties is high at this moment for reasons of high demand pressure.

“What I believe will eventually happen is that properties would soon be priced out of reach of usage. When you get to that point, people that had bought into these properties with intent at trading them off may not be able to free their investment because there would be nobody to buy, even letting may no longer be feasible because of over pricing. When we get to this scenario, the only plausible response would be another desperate bid to get out of the sector; the consequence would be too many properties asking to be bought by too few buyers. This leads to price crash” The MD argued.

“I will counsel that anybody who wants to go into property should consider newly developing areas that are just growing so that they can buy cheap and tend the properties with a medium to long term view.” He advised.

Mr. Ori Adeyemo, a forensic accountant, however, reviewed his consideration of the fate of the real estate sector from the background of the banking credit relationships with their customers.

“The logic is simple enough. The two most reliable forms of collateral for Nigerian banks are stocks and properties. Now with the protracted fall in the stock prices, stocks that have been pledged as collateral to banks have become more or less worthless such that stocks are no longer popular with banks as collateral.

“But there is a tie-in somewhere in the credit transaction between banks and their credit customer. Most customers had pledged their properties as collateral to secure credit to finance their stock market transactions, some had gone ahead to use the money from the credit transactions from their banks as margin participation funds with their stockbrokers and in some cases, their banks.

“Of course, I had always warned that the stock market was headed for a crash, but not many people heeded my call. Now that we found ourselves in this situation of price falling endlessly, it translates to mean that banks cannot redeem their funds from selling pledged stocks, so the next would be to start offering the properties pledged as securities in the open market in the desperate bid to recover their money from their credit customers. You will expect that so many properties would be in the market at the same time competing with those other properties investors had taken position in. The result is a saturation of the properties market on the supply side. What I see is properties prices falling drastically.

“At this point in time, I advise the average investor to remain calm and proper evaluation of whatever is his or her next investment step because situations tend to change drastically at time like this.” Adeyemo suggested.