OFFSHORE FINANCING: NIGERIAN BUSINESSES FUNDED THROUGH US EX-IM BANK

Ex-Im Bank offers a range of financing solutions for Nigerian buyers as part of the US Government programme to expand trade between the United States and sub-Saharan African countries. These programmes offer Nigerian businesses increased access to working capital, while protecting their United States’ suppliers against commercial and political risk, and the ability to offer financing on competitive terms.

Using Ex-Im Bank’s medium-term insurance policy, RZB Finance LLC insured the sale of newspaper printing press equipment worth $2.8 million. This deal allowed Vanguard Media Ltd of Nigeria to purchase the equipment from Webleader International Inc.  Fidelity Bank in Nigeria guaranteed the transaction.

Impex of Doral, Inc. located in Miami, Florida, was able to sell disposable products valued at $100,000 to its customer, Everyday Supermarket Ltd of Nigeria. A multi-buyer, small business insurance policy was approved in April, 2006 by Ex-Im Bank in order to support this transaction.

Via a bank letter of credit policy, Sovereign Bank of Boston, Massachusetts was able to accept a letter of credit from First City Monument Bank Plc of Nigeria on behalf of Balog Technologies, Nigeria for the purchase of computer components and peripherals.  This transaction, approved in April, 2006, supported this sale valued at $250,000 by Max Group Corp. headquartered in Los Angeles, California and ASI Corp of Fremont, California who supplied the equipment.

DWD International Ltd of Houston, Texas through the use of Ex-Im Bank’s multi-buyer, small business insurance product was able to execute a deal with its customer, Intercontinental Bank, Plc of Nigeria.   This transaction, approved in April, 2006, supported the sale of an air conditioning system valued at $250,000.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s letter of credit policy, Sovereign Bank of Boston, Massachusetts was able to accept a letter of credit from Intercontinental Bank of Nigeria.  This allowed the sale of a dredge valued at $593,000, from Baltimore Dredges, located in Baltimore, Maryland to its customer, Dynamic Energy and Marine in Nigeria.  This transaction was approved in May, 2006.

Via an Ex-Im Bank multi-buyer, small business insurance policy, House of Cheatham located in Stone Mountain, Georgia, was able to sell $100,000 of health and beauty aids to CITEX Holdings Ltd of Nigeria.   This transaction was approved in May, 2006.

Ex-Im Bank approved a request from Sovereign Bank, Boston, MA, for a five-year, medium-term guarantee in the amount of $5,000,000 to support the sale of transportation equipment to Sonic Global Resources Ltd, a company located in Nigeria. This shipment of buses will be used to start the first public transportation service in the country’s capital city of Abuja. The primary source of repayment will be Oceanic Bank who has provided a local bank guarantee for this transaction.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s short-term, multi-buyer comprehensive insurance policy, ABRO Industries, Inc. of South Bend, Indiana was able to execute a deal with its customer, Coshcharis Motors Limited of Nigeria.  This transaction, approved in June 2006, supported the sale of new ABRO branded automotive/industrial supply products valued at $10,000,000.

Via an Ex-Im Bank multi-buyer, small business insurance policy, House of Cheatham located in Stone Mountain, Georgia, was able to sell $100,000 of health and beauty aids to Kuddy Cosmetic International of Nigeria. This transaction was approved in July 2006.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s letter of credit policy, Sovereign Bank of Boston, Massachusetts was able to confirm a letter of credit from Intercontinental Bank Plc of Nigeria.   This transaction, approved in May 2006, supported the sale of wheat and other grains valued at $10,000,000 to Intercontinental Bank’s clients, Flour Mills of Nigeria; Honey Wells Flour Mills Ltd and Unikem Industries Ltd by of Wayzata, Minnesota and Wilton, Connecticut, respectively. Cargill and Louis Dreyfus.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s small business multi-buyer insurance policy, Bluefield Associates of Ontario, CA was able to execute a deal with its customer, Diplomat Investment Products of Nigeria.  This transaction, approved in October 2006, will support the sale of cosmetics and toiletries valued at $100,000.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s short-term single sale policy, Robert & Pat Engineering of Newtown, PA was able to execute a deal with its customer, Coastal Equipment Sales Ltd of Nigeria.  This transaction, approved in November 2006, supported the sale of used trucks and heavy construction equipment valued at $45,000.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s letter of credit policy, Sovereign Bank of Boston, Massachusetts was able to confirm a letter of credit from Intercontinental Bank Plc of Nigeria. This transaction, approved in November 2006, supported the sale of a hydraulic crawler crane valued at $275,000 to Onne Port in Nigeria, by Pioneer Equipment Company.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s short-term multi-buyer comprehensive policy, Bondo Corporation of Atlanta, GA was able to execute a deal with its customer, Tagbo Technologies Ltd of Nigeria.  This transaction, approved in November 2006, supported the sale of automotive paint and after market products valued at $200,000.

Under the recently established $300 million Nigerian bank facility, Ex-Im Bank approved a request from M&T Bank, Baltimore, Maryland for a five-year, medium-term guarantee in the amount of $3,954,132 to support the sale of a thermal oil recovery system to Specialty Drilling Fluids Ltd., a company located in Nigeria. The primary source of repayment will be Access Bank Plc. The exporter is Brandt, of Houston, Texas.

Ex-Im Bank approved a request from Diebold Global Finance Corporation, Canton, Ohio for a five-year, medium-term guarantee in the amount of $5,000,000 to support the sale of Automatic Teller Machines to The ATM Consortium Ltd – a consortium of Nigerian banks. Under the recently established $300 million Nigerian bank facility, Diamond Bank Plc guaranteed this transaction.

Ex-Im Bank renewed a $10,000,000 short term single buyer policy for Abro Industries of South Bend, Indiana to sell automotive/industrial supply products to its customer, Coscharis Motors Ltd. of Lagos, Nigeria.  This comprehensive policy is used to support sales to Coscharis for its Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast subsidiaries and was approved in November 2006.

Under the $300 million Nigerian bank facility, established in 2007, Ex-Im Bank approved a request from HSBC Bank of London for a five-year, Medium-Term Comprehensive Guarantee in the amount of $9,337,522 to support the sale of oil drilling equipment to Drillog Petro Dynamics Ltd., a company located in Nigeria. Diamond Bank Plc guaranteed this transaction and would be the primary source of repayment. The U.S. exporter is Halliburton Energy Services of Houston, Texas.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s Multi-buyer Small Business Policy, House Of Cheatham of Stone Mountain, Georgia was able to execute a deal with its customer, Kuddy Cosmetic International of Nigeria This transaction, approved in November 2006, supported the sale of health and beauty aids valued at $150,000.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s Letter of Credit Policy, Citigroup Global Projects of New York, New York was able to establish a $2,500,000 short-term credit limit with Intercontinental Bank Plc of Nigeria. This credit line enabled Citibank to confirm letters of credit issued by Intercontinental Bank, which will go to support the sale of various U.S. goods and services to multiple Nigerian buyers.

In April, 2007 Ex-Im Bank provided short-term insurance policy to Impex of Doral, Inc. of Miami, in support of their sale of disposable products valued at $100,000 to Everyday Supermarket Limited of Lagos, Nigeria.

In April, 2007, Ex-Im Bank approved a request from Sovereign Bank of Boston, MA for a five-year, medium-term comprehensive guarantee in the amount of $1,630,028 to support the sale of two Dragon Series Dredges to H S Petroleum, a company located in Lagos. There were several corporate guarantors on this transaction. The U.S. exporter is Baltimore Dredges, LLC of Baltimore MD.

Xechem Pharmaceutical Nigeria Limited of Abuja, Nigeria received pharmaceutical manufacturing and laboratory equipment from several U.S. suppliers including American Plastics Technologies, Inc. of Shiller Park, IL, Fisher Scientific Company of Suwanee, GA, and the Nitra Group of Aventura, LF. This $9,389,000 loan was supported by a guarantee from the Bank PHB of Lagos, Nigeria, and the loan was provided by UPS Capital Business Credit of Hartford, CT. Ex-Im Bank provided a five-year comprehensive guarantee to the lender.

Through the use of an Ex-Im Bank medium-term loan guarantee, HSBC Bank Plc of New York, was able to provide financing to its client, A. O. IYERE Motors & Co, Ltd of Nigeria. This transaction, approved in June 2007, supported the sale of used Mack trucks and spare parts valued at $1,500,000. Capital Trailer & Equipment Co, Inc, located in Montgomery, Alabama was the supplier. This transaction was supported by a guarantee issued by Union Bank of Nigeria, under the recently established Ex-Im Bank Nigerian banking facility.

Ex-Im Bank approved a request from UPS Capital of Windsor, Connecticut, for a five-year, medium-term guarantee in the amount of $11,000,000 to support the sale of petroleum refining equipment to Amakpe International Refineries Nigeria.  The primary source of repayment will be Sterling Bank of Nigeria.  The U.S. exporter was Ventech Engineers Inc., of Pasadena, Texas.

Ex-Im Bank approved a request from HSBC Bank Plc of New York, New York, for a five-year, medium-term comprehensive guarantee in the amount of $13,117,330 to support the sale of advanced Logging While Drilling (LWD) technology and equipment to Drillog Petro Dynamics Ltd., a company located in Nigeria. Diamond Bank PLC of Nigeria issued a local bank guarantee to support this transaction.  The U.S. exporter was Halliburton Energy Services of Houston, Texas.

Through Ex-Im Bank’s Multi-buyer Small Business policy, Olson Inspection Services Inc of New Orleans, Louisiana executed a deal with its customer, Chevron Nigeria Ltd. This transaction supported the cost of inspection and consulting services valued at $1,000,000.

Via an Ex-Im Bank Multi-buyer Small Business policy, Strength of Nature LLC of Savannah, Georgia was able to sell $20,000 of cosmetics and hair care products to Kuddy Cosmetics International, Ltd in Nigeria.

Through the use of an Ex-Im Bank Medium-term Loan Guarantee, M&T Bank of Buffalo, New York was able to provide financing to its client, Karlflex Fisheries of Nigeria. This transaction supported the sale of three used fishing trawlers valued at $2.6 million, Mr. Vic, Incorporated located in Bayou, Alabama was the supplier. This transaction was supported by a guarantee issued by AfriBank, Nigeria under the Ex-Im Bank Nigerian Banking Facility.

Under the established Nigerian Bank Facility, Ex-Im Bank expedited the approval of a request for a Medium-term Loan Guarantee to First National Bank of Omaha.  The financing from First National Bank of Omaha supported the purchase of 45 used Mack trucks in the amount of $3.4 million by Roadmarks, a company located in Nigeria. Zenith Bank provided a local bank guarantee on this transaction and is the primary source of repayment. The U.S. exporter was Global Truck and Equipment Information of North Miami, Florida.

The Pioneer Equipment Company of Jacksonville, Florida exported $3,030,762 worth of new and refurbished rock crushing equipment to Japaul Oil & Maritime Services, Plc in Nigeria.  Assured through Ex-Im Bank’s Medium-Term Loan Guarantee policy, Sovereign Bank lent the money to Japaul Oil & Maritime Services’ bank, Intercontinental Bank PLC of Nigeria, was the guarantor.

Ex-Im Bank guaranteed a medium-term loan for $321,499 to purchase communication broadcasting equipment.  Electronics Research, Inc of Chandler, Indiana and BSW of Washington, DC exported the equipment to Megalectrics, LTD of Nigeria.  M&T Bank lent the money to Megalectrics with Diamond Bank, PLC of Nigeria as the guarantor.

Ex-Im Bank guaranteed a long-term loan that involved over 16 suppliers.  The $19,634,327 transaction allowed the suppliers to export an aluminum can manufacturing facility to GZ Industries of Nigeria.  Fidelity Bank, Nigeria, provided a local bank guarantee to support HSBC’s loan.

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The McKinsey Quarterly Special Feature

Financial crises, past and present

Past financial crises had very different effects on the real economy. Although the lessons of the past don’t give much cause for optimism, they do provide hints on how companies should prepare this time around.

By David Cogman & Richard Dobbs

Financial crises occur with surprising frequency—in every decade in the past century there has been at least one big shock to a major economy’s financial system. Judging from that history, the current upheaval will probably rank among the largest, and we face the prospect of a severe, painful recession. Yet comparing the current financial crisis with those of the 20th century may provide some comfort: the impact of past crises on the real economy was by no means uniform, and it depended, critically, on the way governments acted to recapitalize the banking system and to restore stability and confidence.

The boom that preceded the present crisis uniquely combined several leverage-driven bubbles: a residential-mortgage bubble, an associated one in the real-estate market, and a bubble in corporate earnings. At the time of writing, US financial institutions had taken total credit crisis–related write-offs of almost $1 trillion.1 McKinsey estimates that the total eventual credit losses in the United States are likely to be between $1.7 trillion to $2.2 trillion: at best, a rapid recovery would result in losses of $1.3 trillion; at worst, a protracted recession could see losses as high as $3.1 trillion. In addition, the Bank of England’s estimates suggest losses of around $1.4 trillion from debts in the United Kingdom and the European Union.2 The losses will be greater if another major asset area (such as credit default swaps) collapses or if a misguided policy response exacerbates the problems, as it did in Japan during the 1990s. This range of possible losses represents 10 to 15 percent of US GDP.

By historical standards, that is substantial. In the past century, it was exceeded only three times: during the banking crisis that inaugurated Japan’s “lost decade” in the early 1990s, the Asian financial crisis of the late ’90s, and the Great Depression. In the first two, the afflicted banking systems recorded total losses of 15 and 35 percent3 of GDP, respectively. Losses in the Great Depression were around 20 percent of GDP in 1929, but this occurred in a very different industry environment from today. Due to a combination of runs on deposits, high levels of bank leverage, progressive deleveraging of the economy, and limited ability of the Fed to intervene,4 this quickly became a protracted economic downturn in which more than 9,000 financial institutions either went into bankruptcy or sought governmental assistance, and the economy experienced massive deflation.

From a company standpoint, the critical issue is the impact such shocks and subsequent downturns can have on the availability of credit—and the impact of a credit shortage on the real economy and on consumer and corporate confidence. The downturn after the S&L crisis of the 1980s and ’90s, when bank write-offs equaled some 4 percent of GDP, lasted about two years. GDP ended up about 4 to 5 percent lower than it would have been given the pre-crisis trend line. After the bursting of Japan’s asset bubble, the country’s economy grew by less than half a percent a year in real terms for a decade, and GDP ended up around 18 percent lower than it would have given its pre-crisis trend line. We estimate that the present credit crisis will cut real GDP by around 3 to 7 percent from trend growth. If the US economy were to follow the same path it did in the more severe crises, the total lost GDP could be two to three times greater than that estimate.

But the fallout from the past century’s two worst crises did considerably more damage. In the countries hardest hit by the 1990s’ Asian financial crisis—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand—GDP shrank by an average of 8 percent in 1998 in local-currency terms. Since their currencies halved in value, on average, in US dollar terms the damage was catastrophic—bankrupting many companies and causing widespread social unrest. And during the Great Depression, from 1929 to 1933, 28 percent of real GDP was lost.

As of December 5, 2008, US unemployment stood at 6.7 percent.5 That is slightly above its level during the 2001–02 recession but still some way below the level associated with the oil shocks of the 1970s (8.5 percent) and the S&L crisis (nearly 10 percent). It is far short of unemployment during the Great Depression, which conservative estimates put at around 25 percent.

How long it takes an economy to emerge from a downturn depends heavily on what kind of cleanup and stimulus package governments employ—especially in repairing the banking system’s ability to provide credit efficiently and restoring confidence among companies and consumers. On average, countries have needed two years to emerge from past recessions after banking crises6 and up to twice as long to return to trend growth.7 Only in two cases did a downturn last substantially longer: in Japan during the lost decade, as a result of counterproductive government policies, and in the Great Depression, when the government was far less able to mount a coordinated response than it is today.

Equity markets are the most visible and dramatic indicators as crises unfold. At the end of October 2008, the S&P 500 index had fallen by 46 percent from its peak a year before (October 9, 2007, to October 27, 2008). By late November 2008, the US equity market had given up almost all of its gains since the 2001–02 dot-com bust. Although nobody knows if the market has reached bottom, the fall so far isn’t unusual by historical standards. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell by 48 percent from peak to trough (December 29, 1989, to October 1, 1990) during the banking crisis, though the market has subsequently fallen still further; at the end of October 2008, it retained less than 20 percent of the peak value reached in 1999. During the Asian financial crisis, the equity markets of Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand fell by 65, 72, and 85 percent, respectively, in local-currency terms. In the United States, the S&P 500 index fell by 49 percent from March 24, 2000, to October 9, 2002, after the tech bubble burst.

There is, however, one important difference in the current crisis. In previous ones, market valuations, as measured by price-to-earnings (P/E), hit excessive levels before the crash.8 This time, corporate earnings, which were around 50 percent above their long-run trend line as a proportion of GDP, experienced a bubble as well. Before the onset of the credit crisis, US corporate earnings were substantially above their trend growth (exhibit).

By historical standards, the real-estate market bubble is more worrisome, because of the medium-term impact on household wealth. From the mid-1970s to the end of the last century, US housing values enjoyed average nominal growth of around 5.4 percent a year, according to the House Price Index of the Office of Federal Housing Oversight. There were two major cycles during this period: in the late 1970s and the late 1980s. In both, national average home prices climbed, at most, 5 to 6 percent above the trend line. From 2000 to 2007, however, home prices climbed to 40 percent above the previous trend.

Going into the present crisis, the US economy was more exposed to real estate than ever before. In the run-up to the S&L crisis, the total stock of US residential property was worth around 104 percent of GDP, and mortgage debt financed a third of that property. In 2001, it was worth around 121 percent of GDP10 and more than 40 percent of it was financed by mortgages. At the end of 2007, Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies estimates, the total stock of US residential property was worth $19 trillion, around 140 percent of US GDP, and more than half was financed by mortgages. If commercial mortgages are included, total mortgage debt was $14.4 trillion, more than 100 percent of GDP.

Since the peak, housing prices have fallen by 18 percent, as measured by the Case–Shiller housing index, whose futures imply a further fall of 19 percent from the peak. Losses in the housing and mortgage markets, when realized, could considerably exceed those in the stock market as of early December 2008.

What does the future hold?

Despite the shared features of the past century’s financial crises—usually, excess leverage somewhere in the financial system and then a breakdown in confidence—the recessions following them were quite different. What determined the length and severity of those recessions was how governments responded: in particular, whether they managed to restore confidence among consumers, companies, investors, and lenders.

An economic crisis becomes a catastrophic recession only if it blocks the provision of capital to businesses long enough to generate widespread corporate failures. This blockage is what made the Asian financial crisis so devastating. Net capital inflows to the region, $93 billion in 1996, turned into net outflows of $12 billion in 1997. Local banking systems just couldn’t provide the capital to plug this gap, foreign banks weren’t prepared to extend credit, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) moved too slowly. As a result, businesses couldn’t finance working capital, let alone investment, and failed to obtain the export financing these countries needed given the high share of exports in their GDPs. Once the flow of credit had been restored, the economies affected by the crisis recovered quickly.

Similar dynamics were at work during the Great Depression, when a combination of bank runs and limited federal controls undermined the financial economy. From 1929 to 1933, almost half of the banks operating in the United States before 1929 failed, as a result of falling prices, the doubling of the country’s debt-service ratio, and the default of more than half of US farm debt.11 Even most of the companies with the strongest credit couldn’t obtain long-term debt capital in the years after the crisis. Moreover, capital had minimal cross-border mobility in the 1930s. With businesses starved of funding, corporate investment fell by more than 75 percent from 1929 to 1933, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

Under less extreme conditions, with the right kind of government intervention, economies can weather even sizable credit crises. From 1981 to 1983, for example, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) data show that 258 US banks failed or required assistance. Nonetheless, nonresidential US investment fell by less than 1 percent in all. During the entire 1980s, almost 750 banks failed and more than 1,500 required assistance, as opposed to 35 during the preceding decade. Yet corporate investment increased by an average of 4.5 percent a year in the ’80s.

Today, the nonfinancial economy goes into the recession surprisingly well prepared: US industrial companies had lower leverage and higher interest coverage than they did going into the dot-com bust, the S&L crisis, or even the oil shocks of the 1970s. How the real economy fares will depend greatly on the way the current policy debate plays out over the next few quarters.

What should companies do?

We do not yet know how the current crisis will evolve. The confidence of consumers, corporations, and investors—a key factor—cannot be forecast. Nor can government policy. Yet research shows that in past recessions, companies pursuing a purely defensive strategy fared less well than their more active counterparts.12 As the economy enters what will probably be a difficult downturn, companies should prepare to seize their opportunities.

Examine the patterns

Although recessions differ, it’s worth understanding how different industries performed during past downturns and what factors determined the speed of recovery. In coming months, as the focus of government policy shifts from fire fighting to economic stimulus, this kind of research will help companies understand the implications for themselves and assess how the evolving macroenvironment will affect them in the next few years.

Overprepare

Most companies already have contingency plans, but few plan as aggressively as they should. It’s worth preparing for the worst—for example, major customers filing for bankruptcy, capital expenditures neeing to be cut in half quickly, or a country sales operation losing access to local-currency working capital. What seems improbable now could become a reality sooner than you expect.

Scan for opportunities

Managing downside risk shouldn’t blind executives to potential upsides. Despite the current turbulence, in most industries it isn’t hard to identify either the companies that will find themselves under pressure or which consolidation and reshaping scenarios might emerge. Instead of reacting to situations on short notice as they arise, invest time now to understand how such forces might affect your industry and what role you want your company to play.

NIGERIAN COMPANIES AND THE HERD MENTALITY

Philip Kotler, in his book, Marketing Management, posited that “all companies must look beyond their present situation and develop a long-term strategy to meet changing conditions in their industry. They must develop a game plan for achieving their long-run objectives.” He further opined that there is no one strategy that is optimal for all companies. Each company must determine what makes the most sense in the light of its position in the industry and its objectives, opportunities, and resources”.

This principle was applied by some notable companies in the United States and Japan in varying degrees to strengthen their operations as well as markets and hence improved revenue base. Companies like Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Uniroyal and Armstrong Rubber Co. in the US and Toyota in Japan applied this strategy to perfect their operations and products.

In the tire industry where all the major players adopted it, it was so used efficiently that each of the company got something and was, in a way, content retaining its distinct character and having to run to the other for assistance at any given time.

Here in our dear country, Nigeria, any thing and every thing runs on the herd mentality, This is why any strategy employed by company A to shore up its operations is automatically copied by company B irrespective of the differences in objective, resources and opportunities available to the two companies and to some extent, experience in their respective fields?

It is for the same reason that our telecom providers are all in the race to promote one event or the other usually in the entertainment sector that in a way alter and pollute our culture. No thought is given to the education sector by way of empowering the youths through scholarships as the oil companies do nor assisting with social projects that benefit the majority across economic strata.

During the re-capitalization efforts by banks, the stock market became the centre of attraction to all the banks. And they are yet to leave that market till date, not even the crisis in that pot of confusion is discouraging them, no. When it was the turn of the insurance sector to shore up their capital base; they too turned to the capital market for succor. The irony in this as it concerns the insurance companies is that the sector that is supposed to invest more in the capital market and in such other critical areas of our economy because of its potential to raise more money than other financial institutions, is the one begging for money. A direct opposite of what obtains in other climes is what our insurance sector represents here in Nigeria. Too bad.

By some slips arising from misconceptions or miss-application of strategy, our banks are increasingly finding it difficult to match reality with expectations. Rather than attempt a review of business plans and carry out some radical changes, marketing plans are being updated and probably are now made to replace business plans the result of which are the various panic measures being put in place to hunt for deposits even from school children as if that is what will give value and stability to their business.

While all these comedies are playing out, some of the banks are declaring mind boggling figures and mouth watering figures as profits, some as high as 98% over the previous year. And if we are to believe these fantastic performances it then becomes very difficult to reconcile the crazy hunt for deposits that now bothers on desperation. Worst still is the fact that daily, our highly performing banks are being accused of cheating their customers maybe to make up for the big profits declared.

Understandably, and in line with the bandwagon behavior, the new craze has shifted to the micro finance sector with virtually all the major banks falling over themselves to take vantage (?) position in that area. The obvious fact that that sector is also banking at the low level makes no meaning to the extent ‘deposit money’ will be sourced there.

While commending our banks for their innovation and ingenuity in what is gradually becoming a phenomenon in the way we do business in this country, it is better some good thought is given to carry out a review of operations based on reality. It will be a better strategy for each bank to look inward and turn its distinctive competence into its competitive advantage as IBTC used to be. Cutting an edge for your business will be a better strategy to this uniformity approach. Harassing people on the streets for deposits sends a signal that all is not well with our banks.

Can we be more creative in doing these things? Enough of these pretensions.

FINANCIALBRIDGE: HOW TO DO BUSINESS WITH THE AMERICAN INVESTMENT COMPANY THAT FACILITATES OFFSHORE FUNDING FOR NIGERIAN BUSINESSES

When Patrick Fournie, Senior Advisor with FinancialBridge, Inc. made his presentation on the “Private Ownership of Modular Refineries in Nigeria: The New Trend in Building Petroleum Refining Capacity: The Financialbridge Experience” at a seminar organized by the Energy Industry Development Initiative at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos State, this past Tuesday, 11 November, 2008, seminar participants listened with rapt attention.

Fournie presentation, was for the Nigerian and other foreign participants at the seminar, a revelation of a new vista in financing strategies on the pivot of offshore financing, he informed the seminar of how FinancialBridge is facilitating funding for a Pharmaceutical Project in Abuja, at a cost of $12.2 million and an aluminum roofing sheet & allied project at Onna in Akwa Ibom State at a cost of $6.6million. FinancialBridge, he said, is also involved in funding for an amusement park project at Isheri, Ogun State, at a projected cost of $22.3 Million, a pit quarry mining project at Oyebiyi, Oyo State at a projected cost of $7.5 million and a 5-Star luxury hotel in Abuja at a projected cost of $55.8 million.

Other projects FinancialBridge had been engaged to facilitate funding for by Nigerian entrepreneurs are the phase one of the 12,000Barrels per day modular refinery project at Eket in Akwa Ibom State at a cost of $43.7 million and the 12,000Barrels Per Day modular refinery project at Kolo Creek in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State at a projected cost of $121.3 million. A $197.5 million 18,000Barrels Per Day modular refinery project in Edo State is also one of the projects FinancialBridge is facilitating offshore funding for.

Fournie who flew into Nigeria to make further revealed how his company had structured funding and project implementation procedures for the soon to be streamed 12,000 Barrels Per Day Amakpe Refinery Project at Ikot Usekong – Eket in Akwa Ibom State and the Rehoboth Refinery, also a 12,000 Barrels Per Day Refinery Project in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Fournie, who, on behalf of Financialbridge, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) appointing Energy Industry Development Initiative as its representative in Nigeria, explained that FinancialBridge is an export finance and business credit consulting firm:

“We work with U.S. and international financial institutions to provide innovative funding solutions to private companies and government agencies, including: export trade finance, project finance, public sector financing and export working capital. We are also involved in equity financing and facilitation of bridging loans” Fournie said.

“We cooperate with Project Implementation and Management Companies in ensuring effective utilization of procured funds for successful planning and execution of related projects and trade transactions.”

Highlighting its primary sources of export funding in the United States financial market, Fournie said his company’s sources include: Export-Import Bank of the United States (U.S. Ex-Im), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export Finance Banks and Credit Insurance Companies, among others:

“Ex-Im Bank is the official Export-Credit Agency of the United States that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by financing the sale of U.S. Exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world. Ex-Im Bank provides Loan Guarantees, Export-Credit Insurance and Direct Loans, in fiscal year 2007, Ex-Im Bank authorized $12.6 billion in financing to support an estimated $16 billion of U.S. exports worldwide.” Fournie said.

Perhaps, of importance to Nigerian entrepreneurs, is the revelation by Fournie that the Ex- Im Bank has approved a $1.0 billion facility to guarantee Nigerian Projects (of which $800 million is still available) despite the global financial melt down.

Explaining the process for securing offshore funding for projects in Nigeria, Fournie said:

“Under the Ex-Im Bank Guarantee Program, the Promoter is required to provide Statutory Equity Contribution of 15% of U.S. Cost Content, while the U.S. Lender funds 85% of the U.S. Cost Content utilizing the Comprehensive Credit Guarantee of Ex-Im Bank. The Project Promoter is further required to provide Local Bank Guarantee to support the 85% portion of the U.S. Loan as well as finance local In-Country Costs requirements within the overall Project Cost.The U.S. Ex-Im Guaranteed Loans have Medium Term Tenure of 5 to 7 years at Interest Rates of +/- 2% above Six Months Floating LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate).

Some of the projects funding prospects of FinancialBridge include Oil and Gas (Modular Oil Refineries, Gas Gathering & Processing Plants, Downstream Petrochemical Projects, Pipelines, etc.), Energy (Gas Turbines and Diesel Powered Plants), Communications (Wireless VSAT Network VoIP Telephone, Fax, High Speed Broadband Internet Systems, Cable TV, etc.) and Solid Mineral (Quarrying & Processing).

Other funding prospects are: Manufacturing and Assembly (Small and Medium Scale Plants), Construction (Pre-engineered Buildings & Facilities, Stadiums & Arenas, Industrial Parks, etc.) Agro-Business (Farming & Food Processing), Medical (Pharmaceutical Projects, Supplies & Clinics), Tourism (Amusement Parks, Hotels/Resorts, etc) and Aviation (Used & New Passenger & Cargo Aircrafts, Helicopters, Airport Development & Expansion, Avionics & Spare Parts, etc.)

Highlighting the milestones already attained with the 12,000 Barrels Per Day (BPD) Amakpe Refinery as a case study, Fournie said:

“The Amakpe Refinery is being implemented in two phases, with Phase 1 – 6000BPD Refinery Plant originally estimated to cost about $36.5 million and now revised to cost $43.7 million, including Escalation, and revised Field Erection Costs. Construction of 12KM Dual Steel Pipeline connecting Exxon/Mobile QIT and Amakpe Tank Farm is estimated at $10 million of Additional Cost. The Project is expected to start production by October 2009. Out of the current revised Project cost of $43.7 million, $26.2 million has been expended while $17.5 million is outstanding to complete full funding of the Project.

“UPS Capital/Ex-Im Bank Loan of $10.3 milion is being disbursed to Ventech, based on P&M Construction Progress Payment while Amakpe Refinery has fully paid required statutory Equity Contribution and continues to pay the Counterpart Funds. Akwa Ibom State Government Investment of $8.5 million has also been applied to the Project

“As at June 27, 2008, Ventech achieved 50% Mechanical Completion of the Refinery Plants and Machinery Fabrication, which was certified by visiting representatives of the Department of Petroleum Resources, including Mr. M.D.B. Ladan-Head Downstream, Mr. O.A. Adeleke- Assistant Director, Dr. D.M.E. Eradiri- Chief Environmental Officer, Mr. Oyedele Sangobowale and Mr. Hussaini Basaka-Site Representatives. Based on this development, Amakpe Refinery has qualified to receive $1.2million Security Deposit earlier paid to DPR as a requirement for revalidation of related Refinery Construction License.

“Sterling Bank has approved additional $9.3 million Loan Facility for the Project. Amakpe Refinery is planning to issue 15,000,000 Shares of Common Stock of the Company for sale to Private Investors. The Private Placement is being packaged by Financialbridge and Sterling Bank for issuance by Sterling Capital Markets (Issuing House).

To start -up the process of obtaining required funding, a Company is required to retain the services of Financialbridge which will develop a Bankable Business Plan that will satisfy U.S. Export Financial Market requirements and procure the Project Loan.

The retainership will further cover service coordination of Project Loan Packaging and Procurement that will involve the Borrower and the U.S. Lender. The U.S. Lender will underwrite the submitted statutory documentation leading to Loan approval, following which the Lender will request the U.S. Ex-Im Bank for issuance of Political Risk and Medium-Term Insurance/ Comprehensive Credit Guarantee before disbursement of related Loan. The process of underwriting the Loan through approval and disbursement could be concluded within 45-90 days after the U.S. Lender receives the complete statutory documentation as outlined.

Financialbridge be responsible in carrying out tasks that will result in the successful procurement of U.S. Loan for the implementation of the project which include: Conduct of Feasibility Study and preparation of Bankable Business Plan that will satisfy U.S. Export Financial Market requirements. The Business Plan will be concluded within 30-45 days from receipt of Engagement Fee, Data from Market Research as well as Borrowers information. The draft of the Business Plan will be forwarded to the Company for approval and possible input before production of final Document.

FinancialBridge also processes Due Diligence, Approval and Disbursement of Project Loan within 45-90 days of the U.S. Financial Institutions receiving and underwriting complete statutory documentation from the Nigerian company.

If required, Financialbridge can also be engaged to Package and Instrument Private Placement of Shares of Common Stock of the company to raise additional funds through Private Equity Investment, utilizing a local Nigerian Bank as Issuing House.

The Funds raised through the Private Placement could be applied to fund Local Project Site Development and In-Country Costs as well as required Equity Contribution, etc.

The Nigerian company shall be responsible for the following within the requirements for successful Loan Procurement, including: Obtaining Nigerian Bank Guarantee for 85% or 75% of the total U.S. Loan amount to fund the Project, depending on the Ex-Im Bank or OPIC requirement.

Securing all required Permits and Licenses from Nigerian Regulatory Authorities, submission of three years audited financial statements of the Nigerian bank as certified by a renowned accounting firm. Provision of Equity Contribution of 15% of total U.S. costs content within the overall Project cost for U.S. Ex-Im Bank Guaranteed Loan to be added to 85% of total U.S. cost content as Loan, or 25% as statutory Equity contribution of total Project

Confirming Energy Industry Development Initiative’s (EIDI) relationship with FinancialBridge, the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tom Obaseki said FinancialBridge has already shown interest in facilitating funding for some project ideas it had forwarded to FinancialBridge.

“As we speak, we have forwarded project proposals for the establishment of 5-7 MMSCFD Modular Gas Gathering, LPG and Lean Gas Production Plant in Nigeria, the establishment of Integrated 55MW Power Plant, Natural Gas Gathering and LPG Processing Project in Nigeria and for Development of Pre-engineered Medical Clinic & Diagnostic Centers, Pharmaceutical Project and Customized Medical Trailers & Boat Clinics, complete with Outreach Medical Technicians Training Support.” Obaseki explained.

THE OBAMA PHENOMENON: HOW IT ALL STARTED

It is no longer news that humanity is today basking in the Obama Phenomenon which from all indications is set to alter the socio-political equations both in the United States and the world over. Obamas’ emergence as the 44th president of the world’s sole super power is a thing that was unthinkable just some years back, more so, when his race is famous for anything but standard behavior. Worst still is the fact that his ‘ancestral home’, Africa, is notorious for an assemblage of poor leaders and political waywardness.

This is why I am still baffled that Kenya, barely out of a political violence that engulfed it as a result of electoral fraud, shamelessly declared a public holiday to celebrate Obama’s emergence on the world stage. You can also see those lazy folks in our national legislative houses, briefly suspending their theatrics of daily assailing our ears with one revelation or the other on frauds and pilfering of public funds and other sordid revelations from the probe of one ministry or the other, conducted in the most unserious manner, even in announcing their findings. Of course, we do know that such probes are more for public show-offs than solving our problems- probes that will never be concluded; these legislators are now taking turns to commend something they never will allow to happen here. What a shame!

Painfully, it is becoming obvious that we are about to miss the opportunity of learning the lessons embedded in this great change the Lord is thrusting on mankind through this messiah of the 21st century. Rather than sit down to study this phenomenon and see how and why it worked and probably, seek to know how we can best apply it to our own pitiable situation, we are busy clicking wine glasses to drink to a state of stupor.

As a matter of challenge, we need to remind ourselves that OBAMA became what he is today because he had a vision rooted in dreams dreamt by a fellow American, turned it to a mission with a solid plan, worked on it with all he has, focused and selfless, carrying every one around him along through persuasion and strong character base that assailed even the strongest of hearts, and he landed finally to our admiration and maybe, for some, consternation.

The dream referred to above was dreamt by the late highly respected Rev. Martins Luther King Junior quoted below in part, which was the seed sown back in 1968 hence this phenomenon called Obama. It also shows that with resilience, patience, focus and belief rooted in the strong faith that for a dream to be realized, you must have the vision and be exceptionally focused, carrying every one on the way along. This is what makes Obama. It is what makes nations great and that is the difference between us and the person we are celebrating. The dream as in the speech is as follows:

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the emancipation proclamation. This momentous decree came as great beacon of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous day-break to end their midnight of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free, one hundred years later; the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and chains of discrimination, one hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the mist of the vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we have to our nation’s capital to cash a cheque. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution and the declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory note for which every American fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men will be guaranteed inalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad cheque, a cheque which has come back marked insufficient-fund. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vault of opportunities of this nation. And so we have come to cash this cheque, a cheque that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of ***.

I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, we hold this truth to be self evident that all men are created-equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression; will be transformed into oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day in Alabama with its vicious racist with its government having its lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification- that one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers…”

Well, every society it is said has its own gifts. We do have in Africa our own Rev. Martins Luther King in the mould of Nkruma, Awolowo, Nyerere, even the Madiba himself, Mandela. They may have, unlike the great Dreamer, participated in the governing processes in their various domains and times. They may also have made mistakes along the way. But what happened to their dreams? And where is our OBAMA? Instructively, as it is in politics and governance, so it is in business. Which is why we are still searching for a Bill Gate, neither are we able to light our homes 48 years in nationhood. Not to worry, the Germans are here maybe to ease out the Chinese? That is the typical rigmarole that characterizes our way of doing things.

Obama will be a good president

Head or tail, history made

Obama: Head or tail, history made

Away from our beleaguered stock market and the yet roiling global financial markets. At least, a little bit of sanity is returning to the Nigerian stock market though not by way of positive market activities, thankfully, the management of the Nigerian Stock Market has finally discerned the wisdom that informs free market activities by removing the one percent down limit on stocks price depreciation. Good enough, prices are stumbling; curiously, most hurt in the crashing prices are stocks of banks and insurance companies. The manufacturing sector is curiously holding steady, prices of UAC Nigeria, UAC Property and even those in the health sector; especially the pharmaceuticals have managed to hold their own at relative sliding rate. Does this tell a story?

 

I think it does, the power of any economy is a function of its real and active sector. Investors seem to have decidedly held faith with companies that are producing goods and products they can relate with and have turned their backs on the services of the financial sector with the average fall in price of stocks in that sector calculated at more than 50 percent. I guess it all about fears and negative sentiment. Yet, I can still dare to propose that in that sector lies the redeeming prospect of the market. Why?

Financial sector players understand the Nigerian economic market, perhaps, much more than any other sectoral player, and of course, they know how to get things done. They have been at the commanding height of the economy since the military inspired economic structural adjustment programme as influenced by the International Monetary Funds. Nigerian banks and bankers had survived much turbulence since 1993 when we first witnessed the first wholesale crash of the national banking sector and had returned stronger and better.

  So if First Bank is selling for less than 30 per cent of its peak price in 2008 at N20 plus and Access at less than 100 per cent of its high this year, I am tempted to go searching for value in the finance sector.

Please, excuse me, the stock market was not supposed to be in focus this week. I am very sure, the most discussed issue that would be discussed the whole of this week will be the USA presidential election while the most mentioned name any where in the corners of the globe this week will be Barrack Obama, that genteel, lithe figure that suddenly happened on the American political scene and had since captured the imagination of American across age, gender and other persuasion.

It’s natural to expect an opinionated African to canvass an Obama presidency, isn’t it natural? Of course, to my mind, this is the final resolution of the opposites that had defined relationship among people across the world, and for once, an indication that Africa, will, despite the interface of all morbid attributions in national leadership of countries across the black African continent, is where ultimate civilization and prosperity is headed. This may not be more than 50 years, I feel a reordering of the global economic space, an Obama USA presidency will be the beginning of the process.

Is this some fanciful thought? I don’t know, but it’s not every time that an individual, seemingly unqualified for a position just suddenly start marshalling the most effective strategies to beat political institutions in the United States.

The fact that Obama, a black-white man, or put properly, a white-black man (still wonder why they still primarily describe him as a black man as if the white gene and pigmentation of his mum were of no consequence) subsumed the Clintons and veteran John McCain in the opinion of people across the USA should convince anybody that Obama will be a good president.

No need to cajole logic and other persuasive argument about the worthiness of Obama, he has proved this by taking the battle to republican states and even competing on favourable numbers in McCain’s Arizona. And even more interesting, he turned the institution of the republican into a bleary eyed pumpkin mask only suitable to be laughed at during Halloween. Obama is that awesome.

So, can we be practical enough to stop all those talks of a McCain miraculous come as he had done before in those other elections into the senate. This is a different ball game; we are talking here about a phenomenon who is just being introduced to the world stage. Something tells me the world will not be the same after four years of Obama…but that will be if he survives the first term. Now, that’s talk for another day.