As CBN plans to lift embargo, banks go for dollar loans, bonds

As CBN plans to lift embargo, banks go for dollar loans, bonds

Although the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is yet to formally lift the ban on commercial banks going for dollar denominated loans, some of the banks have already started using that window for negotiating bonds and other financial instruments based on foreign currency transactions.

As at June 2017, three banks have, either partly or fully, finished moves aimed at seeing them secure foreign loan investment, including a $500 million Eurobond by UBA.

It was learnt that the banks were working on expression of intention by the CBN to lift the ban in going for transactions.

Among them are Zenith Bank, Diamond Bank, GTB and others.

But the bankers said that the improvement in the scarcity of dollar has influenced their actions towards looking for a better way of maximising the situation.

However, CBN spokesman, Isaac Okoroafor when contacted declined comments on this, adding that there will be an official statemt soon on that.

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However, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc’s $400m Eurobond is due in November, while Fidelity Bank Plc’s $300m is due soon. Access Bank Plc has $350m of bonds due in July.

GTBank was quoted as saying that it has no plans to issue fresh Eurobonds, but Fidelity Bank and Access Bank are almost through with their plans, said a source.

Economic and financial experts agree that the banks should be allowed to raise dollar-denominated loans now that recession is getting over.

They said it will see more lenders willing to issue more Eurobonds because the economy needs dollars to finally come out of recession.

Mr. Chris Imella, an investment expert said offer loans in the dollar currency is the surest way to attract the scarce dollar to the economy, adding that more banks should be allowed to issue Eurobonds, because they need dollars to offer loans and to repay debt.

Already, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated has said it is planning to raise a $400m five-year convertible bond this month to refinance debt and provide short-term bridge funding for non-performing loans at its Nigerian unit.

Experts said more banks will raise dollar loans between 2017 and 2018 .

It is believed that with the success being announced of dollar loan by some banks , those yet to come on board will soon join the fray, as the managements of all the 22 commercial banks in Nigeria seem to have taken a stance on that, going by feelers from the sector.



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