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Eurobond: Nigeria external reserves to hit 54 months high of $45bn

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Statutory allocation funds to lower cost of funds

By Babajide Komolafe

NIGERIA’s external reserves will  rise to 54 months high of $45 billion this month following the conclusion of federal government’s $2.5 billion Eurobond this week. The Eurobond, which commenced last week with the announcement of its pricing on Thursday, will be concluded on Friday.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the $2.5 billion Eurobond, which attracted buying interest of $11.5 billion, comprises a $1.25 billion 12-year series and a $1.25 billion 20-year series. The 12-year series comes with interest at a rate of 7.143 percent, while the 20-year series will bear interest at a rate of 7.696 percent, and, in each case, will be repayable with a bullet repayment of the principal on maturity. The offering is expected to close on or about February 23, 2018, subject to the satisfaction of various customary closing conditions.


Though the purpose of the Eurobond issuance is to refinance domestic debts, proceeds of the bond will, among other things, accelerate accretion to the nation’s external reserves.

Commenting on how the Eurobond issuance will impact the domestic economy, analysts at Lagos based investment firm, Afrinvest Plc, said: “The proceeds from the Eurobond issuance would be used to refinance relatively expensive short term domestic borrowings as the FGN plans to achieve an optimal mix of domestic and foreign debt and reduce overall debt servicing cost. The impact of the debt refinancing, coupled with declining inflation rate and stability in foreign exchange rate, is anticipated to continue to anchor yield expectation lower in the near term and reduce crowding out of private sector borrowers.”

External reserves accretion

Financial Vanguard analysis reveals that the external reserves have grown by $3.5 billion or 8.9 percent since the beginning of the year. According to the CBN, the external reserves which opened the year at $39.3 billion had risen to $42.8 billion last week. The sharp increase in reserves is driven by rising crude oil price, which touched $71 per barrel last month  before retreating to $62 per barrel last week, as well as upsurge in dollar inflows through the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange market.

Financial Vanguard analysis showed that turnover (dollars traded) in the I&E window rose by 10 percent last week to $789.9 million from $716.57 million the previous week. Consequently dollar inflow since the beginning of the year through the I&E window rose to $8.37 billion, from $7.58 billion the previous week.

Mixed naira performance

However, in spite of the increased turnover, the naira depreciated marginally in the I&E window last week. According to data from the Financial Market Dealers Quote, the indicative exchange rate for the  window rose by 9 kobo to N360.36 per dollar last week from N360.27 the previous week. But the naira remained stable at N363 per dollar in the parallel market during the week.

The CBN on its part sustained its weekly intervention in the foreign exchange market by selling $210 million in the interbank market. According to Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, “The CBN offered $100 million to authorized dealers in the wholesale segment of the market, while the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment got the sum of $55 million. Customers needing foreign exchange for invisibles such as tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), among others, were also allocated the sum of $55 million.”

Statutory allocation funds to lower cost of funds

Cost of funds is expected to further trend downwards in the interbank money market this week courtesy of inflow from statutory allocation to the three tiers of government which would be released this week by the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).

The inflow, in addition to N56.3 billion inflow from maturing treasury bills (TBs) is expected to offset impact of outflow to be occasioned by N100 billion FGN Bond offer by Debt Management of Nigeria (DMO) this week; dollar auction by the CBN; and likely mop-up by CBN through secondary market (open market operations, OMO) TBs sale.

Last week, cost of funds fell sharply by over 2,500 basis points (bpts) following upsurge in market liquidity to N371.5 billion on Friday from N46.4 billion the previous week. The upsurge in liquidity was buoyed by inflow of N266 billion from matured TBs, which offset the impact of outflow of N176 billion through primary market (new) TBs sold by the CBN during the week.

Consequently, interest rate on Collateralised (Open Buy Back, OBB) lending dropped by 2,516 bpts to 18.17 percent last week from 43.33 percent the previous week. Similarly, interest rate on Overnight lending dropped by 2,600 bpts to 19.5 percent from 45.5 percent the previous week.

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