UPDATED: Banks get 60% of CBN’s first yuan sale auctions on 49-51 naira, trades on 362 to dollar

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ABUJA, July 30 – The Central Bank of Nigeria sold yuan at a range of 49-51 naira at its first auction of the Chinese currency last week, traders said on Monday.

The auction, which is part of an attempt to encourage the use of an alternative trading currency, particularly given the high level of imports from China, sold the yuan for immediate value and for 15-day settlement, traders said.

Some lenders got as much as 60 percent of the volume they applied for, while one bank got just 5 percent. They said the volume sold was based on the price quoted for the yuan at the auction.

Naija247news recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in April commenced its intervention in the sale of foreign exchange in Chinese Yuan (CNY), signaling the consummation of the bilateral currency swap agreement it signed with the People’s Bank of China on April 27.

Acting Director, Corporate Communications at the CBN, Isaac Okorafor said in a statement yesterday that the sales shall be through a combination of spot and short tenored forwards.

According to him, the exercise, which shall be Special Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) retail, would be dedicated to the payment of Renminbi denominated Letters of Credit for raw materials, machinery and agriculture.

He explained that the CBN would receive bids from all authorised dealers, further adding that due to the peculiarity of the exercise, the Bank would not be applying the relevant provisions of its Revised Guidelines for the Operation of the Inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market, which require all SMIS bids to be submitted to the CBN through the Forex Primary Dealers.

Furthermore he said that the CBN would also not be applying the relevant provisions of the guidelines, which equally provide that “Spot FX sold to any particular end-user shall not exceed 1% of the overall available funds on offer at each SMIS session”.

Speaking on the bid period, Okorafor said authorised dealers were requested to submit their customers’ bids from 9.00 am to 12.00 pmon Friday July 20, 2018, adding that bids received after this time would be disqualified.

On funding, he disclosed that authorised dealers were to debit the customers’ accounts for the Naira equivalent of their bids, stressing that the CBN would debit authorised dealers’ current account on the day of intervention to the tune of the naira equivalent of their bid request.

The CBN spokesman explained that there would be no predetermined spread on the sale of FX Forwards by authorised dealers to end-users under the Special SMIS-Retail, adding that authorised dealers would be allowed to earn 50 kobo on the customers’ bids.

Pointing out that the bids were on Spot FX basis as the authorised dealers’ accounts with the CBN would be debited in full for the Naira equivalent of the USD bid amount, Okorafor advised customers that were not willing to accept the settlement terms not to participate in this Special SMIS – Retail.

According to him, forward bids would be settled through a multiple-price book building process and would cut-off at a marginal rate to be disclosed after the conclusion of the Special SMIS – Retail process. He urged customers not willing to accept the terms of the forward rate not to participate in this Special Chinese Yuan SMIS Intervention.

He emphasised that the CBN reserved the right not to make a sale if it had the impression that the exercise did not provide an effective price for the determination of the CNY/NGN exchange rate.

“There will be very marginal discount to encourage people to go for it. But the discount will be so small as not to encourage arbitrage, but encourage those who really want to do so that they can get an advantage for embracing the Renminbi currency,” the source had told Naija247news

The CBN recently held town hall meetings in some cities in the country in its bid to woo businesses importing goods from China to use the Yuan instead of the United States dollar in its effort to support its naira currency and boost reserves.

Officials said the deal was aimed at reducing reliance on the dollar and “as such, reduce the pressure on the naira-dollar exchange rate.”

“From the details … it is more beneficial for customers who import raw materials, machinery and agricultural products from China to source foreign currency through Renminbi,” one Nigerian lender said in a note to clients.

It added that the implied naira rate made yuan slightly cheaper to purchase than dollars, but added that it was early to say as this was the first auction.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest nation by population and its largest economy due to its oil exports, but it lacks a manufacturing base and so relies on imports — mainly paid for in dollars — to serve its consumption needs.

It has tried several options to curb the resultant pressure on the naira, but some will not show an effect for some time.

The central bank currently auctions dollars at a range of 330-350 naira, traders said.

The naira trades at around 362 on an over-the-counter system used by lenders while the unit is quoted at around 305 per dollar on the official market, supported by central bank’s regular intervention.

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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.