| LAGOS, March 23
LAGOS, March 23 Nigeria's Zenith Bank
has shelved plans to raise 100 billion naira ($318
million) via a combination of bonds and share sales due to weak
capital markets, it said on Thursday.
The bank had expected market conditions to improve when it
announced plans to seek approval for the funds last month, said
Zenith's head of investor relations Michael Anyimah, but the
lender cancelled them due to the struggling economy.
Africa's biggest economy is in its first recession in 25
years, brought on by low oil prices which have slashed
government revenues and crippled dollar supplies in the country,
making life difficult for businesses.
"The request for shareholders' approval to raise fresh
capital has been withdrawn," Anyimah said, adding that the bank
had strong buffers to support its operation.
Shares in Zenith, which has shed 6.4 percent this year on
the Lagos bourse, climbed 0.07 percent to 13.82 naira each by
1200 GMT. They gained 5 percent last year.
Nigerian regulators have been trying to revive their IPO
market which dried up almost 10 years ago following a crisis in
the West African country. The Securities and Exchange Commission
has proposed to cut listing fees to attract issuers.
However, the main stock index is down 5.1
percent this year after it shed 6.2 percent in 2016. In dollar
terms, stocks lost 40 percent last year as the naira fell by a
third in the official market against the dollar due to central
bank currency reforms.
Zenith has posted a pretax profit of 156.75 billion naira
for 2016, up from 125.62 billion a year earlier.
($1 = 314.50 naira)
($1 = 306.4500 naira)
(Additional reporting and writing by Chijioke Ohuocha, editing
by Ed Osmond)