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Italy snubs Russia over Ukraine invasion, signs gas deal with Angola

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As one of the fall-outs of the Ukraine/Russia war, Italy has made move to look for alternative gas supply as the European country on Wednesday penned a deal with Angola to ramp up gas supplies.

A statement from the Italian foreign minister during the declaration of intent was signed to develop “new” natural gas ventures and to increase exports to Italy.
“Today, we have reached another important agreement with Angola to increase gas supplies,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in the statement.
“Italy’s commitment to differentiate energy supply sources is confirmed,” said Di Maio at the end of a two-and-half-hour long visit to Luanda.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing Europe to diversify its energy supply.
“Germany and Europe must now quickly make up for what they have missed over the last 20 years,” Stefan Liebing, chairperson of the German-African Business Association, said in a recent press release.
He advised Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck to travel to African countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Angola, which could help free Europe from its dependence on Russian gas.
The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi reportedly want to add Angola and Congo-Brazzaville to a portfolio of suppliers to substitute Russia, which provides about 45 percent of Italian gas.
“We do not want to depend on Russian gas any longer, because economic dependence must not become a political subject,” Draghi said in a local media publication on Sunday.
“Diversification is possible and can be implemented in a relatively short amount of time — quicker than we imagined just a month ago,” he said.
Draghi was due to go himself but after testing positive for Covid-19 sent Di Maio and Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani in his place.

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Nigeria’s Dangote Sugar Refinery issues commercial papers worth N42.79 billion at rates of 25%, 23%

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Nigeria’s Dangote Sugar Refinery has declared the issuance of its N42.79 billion Series 4 and 5 commercial papers, offered at 25% and 23%, respectively, were successfully issued. The company’s N150 billion commercial paper issuance program included issuing the papers.

The 181-day Series 4 and the 265-day Series 5 were issued for a total of N12.93 billion and N29.86 billion, respectively. The notification released by the company states that institutional and individual investors, along with pension and non-pension asset managers, participated in the CP issuance.

Dangote Sugar Refinery has issued N39.39 billion in 266-day Series 1 notes at a 17.08% discount rate as part of its N150 billion commercial paper program. Furthermore, at a 19.84% discount rate, the corporation has issued N6.15 billion in 184-day Series 2 notes.

At a discount rate of 21.30%, the business issued 254-day Series 3 notes for N53.47 billion. Therefore, Dangote Sugar has raised N141.8 billion through its Series 1 to 5 CPs. The letter to the group states that the corporation plans to diversify its funding sources through the issuance of commercial papers. The money raised will go toward meeting finance needs and sustaining short-term operating capital.

According to Dangote Sugar’s Q1 2024 financial reports, interest costs on commercial papers totalled N543.2 million, while interest costs on bank loans came to N21.48 million. This suggests that commercial papers rather than bank loans are the company’s primary source of funding.

These commercial papers’ high discount rates are a reflection of Nigeria’s high-interest monetary environment at the moment. The CBN increased Nigeria’s benchmark interest rate by 750 basis points to 26.25% in 2024, which had an impact on manufacturers’ capacity to finance working capital.

In essence, the CBN’s decision has caused banks to significantly raise their lending rates. For instance, UBA’s loan rates to the manufacturing sector ranged from 28.50% to 32.00% as of May 17, 2024. Due to this increase, businesses are now looking for alternate sources of funding, and debt securities like bonds and commercial papers are one such choice.

However, treasury bills (NT-bills) and OMO bills issued by the CBN are vying with commercial papers for investors’ attention in the market for short-term debt securities. Furthermore, the CBN’s yield rates on NT notes and OMO bills in 2024 have shown to be extremely competitive. For instance, the June 5, 2024, 182-day and 364-day NT bills have respective discount rates of 17.5% and 20.67%.

Companies have been obliged to implement rather high interest rates for these CPs to compete favourably. Series 3, 4, and 5 CPs from Dangote Sugar are available at discounts of 21.30%, 23%, and 25%, respectively. It has also forced other issuers to adopt high interest rates. Series 1 and Series 2 CPs were issued by Coronation Group with respective discount rates of 19.83% and 21.81%.

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Nigeria’s inflation increases to a record 28-year high in May

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According to official figures released on Saturday, Nigeria’s annual inflation reached a record 28-year high of 33.95% in May, exacerbating the hardships that have stoked popular ire against President Bola Tinubu’s economic reforms.

Inflation increased for the eighteenth consecutive month, up from 33.69% in the previous month.

Tinubu’s measures, which primarily cut energy and gasoline subsidies and devalued the naira twice in a single year, have increased price pressure.
Labour unions, who asked for a new minimum wage through an industrial strike that was called off after two days, have maintained that the reforms disproportionately affect the poor and have left millions of people facing the biggest cost-of-living crisis in decades.

The National Bureau of Statistics data indicated that in May, food and non-alcoholic beverages remained the main drivers of inflation.

The majority of Nigeria’s inflation was driven up by food prices, which increased to 40.66% from 40.53% in the previous month. Analysts say the major causes of Nigeria’s inflation are rising food prices and a declining value of the naira.

The report read, “In May 2024, the headline inflation rate increased to 33.95% relative to the April 2024 headline inflation rate which was 33.69 per cent. Looking at the movement, the May 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.26 per cent compared to the April 2024 headline inflation rate.

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.54 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in May 2023, which was 22.41 per cent. This shows that the headline inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in May 2024 when compared to the same month in the preceding year (i.e., May 2023).

For the third time this year, the central bank increased interest rates in May in reaction to the ongoing increase in inflation. Rates will remain high for as long as it takes to reduce inflation, according to Governor Olayemi Cardoso.

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