Possible M&As In Nigeria's Troubled Financial Institutions


Most analysts say the Nigerian Financial sector is too populated with many banks (21 compared to 5 in South Africa the continents second largest economy) meaning a consolidation may be the solution to the sectors current ills. 

Even as Nigeria’s banking sector is currently facing a crisis of confidence following the central bank’s decision to replace the chief executive officer of Skye Bank Plc, its chairman and 10 other directors on July 4 after the nation’s eighth-biggest lender consistently failed to meet minimum capital adequacy thresholds.

Emerging Market focused investment bank Renaissance Capital notes that the CBN intervenes by removing bank management when capital adequacy ratios (CAR) fall below 4 percent and estimates that a N142 billion erosion in tier one capital for Skye Bank has occurred representing about 99 percent of its 9 month 2015 equity.

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has repeatedly said in the past it was done bailing out any Nigerian lender and had stopped buying new non performing loans.

The balance sheet of the Central Bank and fiscal authorities is also pretty stretched following falling oil prices meaning bailing out the sector using public funds is largely undesirable.

The Nigerian Banking index has largely underperformed the broad market this year as investors fret over the potential for another crisis in the sector.

According to Fitch Ratings, 45% of Nigerian banks’ loans are denominated in dollars, meaning the recent devaluations have increased liabilities for some of the banks in Naira terms and dragged down the value of their capital relative to loans.

A look at some major deals that allows stronger banks to swallow weaker ones that could shake up the sector and put the industry on a stronger footing going forward, if they were approved.

Stanbic IBTC buys Skye Bank

Stanbic IBTC is a second tier Nigerian lender, which is a subsidiary of South Africa’s Standard Bank.

While the current challenges with the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) make it difficult to formulate a constructive view on the earnings outlook for Stanbic, analysts at Renaissance Capital say “the fundamentals appear intact…We expect the bank’s trading income to receive a boost over time from the liberalisation of FX markets. Management thinks assets under management (AuM) and profits before tax PBT growth in the wealth business should be c. 10 percent in 2016 as a base case.”

Stanbic IBTC has a market capitalization of N158 billion nearly 13 times that of Skye Banks N12 billion.

The deal if done would catapult Stanbic into a tier one bank and give it a bigger share in the retail banking space which it has struggled to grow as well as improve its footprint in terms of a wider branch network.

Stanbic had total assets of N1.4 trillion (YE 2015), compared to Skye Banks N1.3 trillion.

Stanbic’s branch network of 141 and ATMs in service of 200, compare to Skye Banks branch network of 469 and ATMs of 887.

The combined entity (Stanbic + Skye) could potentially have total assets of N2.7 trillion, branch network of 610 and 1087 ATMs in service.

Stanbic could leverage on new customers gained from the Skye Bank merger to drive growth in its asset management and pension services.

Those newly gained Skye deposits (N832 billion as at FY 2015), could also be a means of growing net interest margins, by using cheap deposits to lend to individuals/corporates or buy Government bonds, at a higher interest rate.

Roadblocks to a deal

It is unclear whether the management of Stanbic Ibtc desires to grow the bank as big as the merger would suggest.

There are also issues around the books of Skye Bank, which just last year took over a bailed out lender Mainstreet Bank.

There are risks that the hole in which Skye Bank is may be bigger than it is especially if proper due diligence is not done on its books.

There are also issues around the fire power of Stanbic IBTC.

While the Stanbic IBTC’s most likely currency to do a deal (its equity) is solid and trading above book value, issues around the FRC and uncertainty over digesting what is in effect 2 banks (Mainstreet and Skye pre its Mainstreet acquisition), could depress shares if a deal is announced potentially making it more expensive for shareholders.

GTB buys Diamond Bank          

Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) is Nigeria’s largest lender by value, and has a market capitalization of N679.8 billion.

Diamond Bank on the other hand is a second tier lender with market capitalization of N46.5 billion.

GTB largely plays in the corporate loans sector and a deal would give the bank a firmer foothold in the retail and SME space where Diamond Bank is a major force.

Following the significant depreciation in the naira, GT Bank is positioned to see a jump in its FX income via revaluation and trading gains.

Diamond Bank Plc however led losses among the nation’s lenders on the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index today, falling the most since January last year on speculation it may struggle to stem non-performing loans.

It had a capital adequacy ratio of 16.2 percent at the end of the first quarter, compared with a 15 percent regulatory minimum.

Diamond’s capital ratios may come under “notable pressure” because of loans in foreign currencies, according to analysts.

A deal would help GTB further diversify its income streams, and firepower to consummate such a deal should not be an issue given GTB superb earnings generation and a stock price that trades well above book value. 

Roadblocks to a deal

The management of GTB is notoriously known to be conservative in their banking approach and may be unwilling to do such a large deal without some form of prodding by the Nigerian Government.

GTB had total assets of N2.5 trillion as at YE 2015, and if combined with Diamond Banks N1.7 trillion may emerge as one of the biggest bank in Nigeria post such a merger.

Diamond Bank management may also not look too favorably to a deal, due to their own ambitions ideas on where to take the bank.

UBA buys Union Bank

United Bank for Africa (UBA) buying Union Bank is a deal that makes sense only if the management of UBA decided that growth in Nigeria should be pursued alongside growth in its African subsidiaries.

UBA had a market capitalization of N161 billion compared to Union Banks N82 billion on Friday.

UBA had significant net long FX positions as at Q1, 2016 giving the lender capital and asset quality buffers, following the recent naira devaluation.

On the other hand Union Bank shares dropped about 5 percent to their lowest levels in almost two months today as investors worried over the bank’s capital adequacy levels.

A takeover would give UBA’s management led by Tony Elumelu (who has done such large deals in the past) a bigger footprint in Nigeria and a larger assets base as it aims to conquer the rest of Africa.

Roadblocks to a deal

Union Bank which just emerged from a restructuring of its own following a CBN bailout may not be too keen to sell itself to UBA without a major push by the Nigerian authorities.

There are also issues around the firepower of UBA, which currently trades well below book value per share. Union Bank also has a a major investor in Atlas Mara who have the financial muscle to fight off any merger deal.

EcoBank buys Wema Bank

Ecobank Transnational Inc. which has a primary listing in Lome Togo also trades on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) as Ecobank Nigeria.

The bank which is an African focused lender recently outlined plans to close some of its African subsidiaries and focus on the larger more profitable ones.

The Nigerian business is Ecobanks largest subsidiary.

Buying Wema Bank would be a continuation of the banks inorganic growth in Nigeria following acquisition of Oceanic Bank in 2011. 

Roadblock to a deal

Ecobank has 2 major shareholders in Nedbank Group of South Africa and Qatar National Bank who could torpedo any new takeovers and potential dilution of shares.

ETI CEO Ade Adeyemi said last year the bank “will shun acquisitions for the moment and concentrate on boosting shareholder returns.”

FBNH: too big to be bought?

FBN Holdings Nigeria’s biggest bank by assets deserves a mention here because of the lenders soaring non performing loans (North of 20% in Q1), its cratering stock price and well below book value valuation.

FBN Holding’s may come under closer scrutiny from the central bank, Adesoji Solanke, Renaissance Capital’s head of research in Nigeria, said in a note on July 5.

FBNH may however just be too big to be bought by any Nigerian lender. 

The Bank may also be able to plug any capital holes from internal earnings by cutting dividends.

First Bank “does not need to raise more capital” and can generate enough earnings to support internal capital formation, acting Chief Financial Officer Ini Ebong said today. “Our‎ liquidity ratio remains very strong. FBN is and remains a net placer in the interbank market and has no need to seek funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria window.”

Access Bank: Just digested intercontinental 

Access Bank which could also be a contender to takeover smaller Nigerian Banks may already have its hands full digesting its most recent merger with Intercontinental Bank.


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