Togo based Ecobank Breaks 18-Month Nigerian Hiatus by Selling Eurobonds

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By Emele Onu , John Glover , and Paul Wallace

Yield ranks among the higest from emerging markets in 2019

Attracts strong demand from DFIs and financial institutions

Ecobank Transnational Inc. sold $450 million of Eurobonds Thursday at yields that rank among the highest from emerging markets this year, the first debt sale from a lender with shares listed on the Nigerian stock exchange in 18 months.

One of Africa’s most geographically diverse banks issued five-year senior unsecured notes priced at 9.75 percent, Renaissance Capital, one of the arrangers, said in a statement. The funding will help the lender to meet its general corporate obligations, including the refinancing of a portion of debt it owes banks.

The transaction lured strong demand from development banks and financial institutions, Samuel Sule, director of the financing group at RenCap, said in the statement. The other arrangers were Deutsche Bank AG, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Standard Chartered Plc.

The yields are about the juiciest since Ecuador sold $1 billion of 10-year sovereign debt at 10.75 percent in January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Yields on those securities have dropped to 9 percent as sentiment toward emerging markets improved and the government secured a $4.2 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund.

Ecobank raised $200 million in loans last year, which are due for repayment in November. Many lenders in its biggest market of Nigeria are looking to raise funding to finance their operations or increase capital reserves after a 2016 recession triggered a surge in non-performing loans and stricter accounting rules increased impairments.

No Nigerian-listed bank had sold Eurobonds since October 2017, when Fidelity Bank Plc issued $400 million of five-year securities a 10.75 percent. The price on those has since risen, sending the yield down to about 8.8 percent.

Lome, Togo-based Ecobank’s net income jumped 44 percent to $328 million in 2018, while operating income was little changed at $1.8 billion.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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