Obinna Chima

For the second week in a row, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTB) maintained its lead garnering the highest allocation of foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as last week’s figures have shown.

GTB with an allotment of $30,902,089.86 was followed by First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank), which got $19,610,855.76, to come in second, while Stanbic IBTC Limited with $19,206,106 held the third slot.

Zenith Bank Plc, which published returns of $16,823,160.04, came in fourth place, while Union Bank of Nigeria reported $15,602,956.71 to take the fifth place.

Also First City Monument Bank Limited (FCMB) reported returns of $14,273,731.24 to occupy the sixth place, Diamond Bank Plc with $13,929,883.10 came in seventh, Access Bank Plc reported returns of $13,698,086.72 to occupy the eighth slot, and Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria with $13,541,059.33 was ninth.

Standard Chartered was followed by Fidelity Bank – $11,152,667.93; United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) – $11,152,667.93; Citibank Nigeria – $8,843,320.04; Sterling Bank Plc – $6,645,092.19; and Wema Bank Plc – $1,052,198.89.

The returns of forex utilisation across board once more revealed that school fees and business and personal travel allowances, in terms of volume, accounted for the highest number of allocations, while other invisibles such as repatriation of capital, divestments by foreign portfolio investors from the equities and bond markets, accounted for a large chunk of forex purchases, in terms of value.

For GTB, its returns revealed that, of the $31 million it got from the central bank, it sold $11.830 million (38 per cent) to Dangote Industries Limited for the payment of interest on the company’s syndicated facility.

In all, GTB had 328 customers on its list, both corporates and individuals. Of the total, the payment for school fees abroad got the highest allocation in terms of volume, but it also sold dollars to some of its corporate customers importing raw materials, petrol and diesel, among others. Also, Lufthansa and Air France bought dollars from GTB for their ticket sales’ remittances.

First Bank also sold dollars to a total of 767 customers – corporates and individuals. Of all its customers, Dangote Cement stood out, having bought $4.999 million from the bank. FirstBank also sold dollars for customers paying tuition, and those importing medical equipment, raw materials and industrial equipment.

Returns by Stanbic IBTC once more revealed the huge volume of outflow by foreign portfolio investors exiting the country. About 50 customers bought dollars from Stanbic IBTC to divest from the bond and equities markets.

Just like the preceding week, some of the portfolio investors included Northern Trust London, Milan/BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, London, Merill Lynch International, Bank of New York, and Standard Bank of New York.

Zenith Bank also sold dollars to 465 customers, largely for school fees and PTA, while some purchased dollars from the bank to import essential raw materials and other visible items.

Union Bank’s returns published for the last week of February and first week of March, accounted for the huge figures reported by the bank. Like its peers, it sold dollars for invisibles comprising school fees and PTA and also for the importation of essential industrial raw materials.

FCMB had 283 customers on its list. The bank sold dollars mostly to customers for PTA and for school payment abroad. Also, its corporate customers got dollars for the purchase of spare parts, pharmaceutical equipment such as infusion sets for needles, generators, and baby diapers, among others.

Overall, returns published by all the banks showed that demand for forex remained high, reflecting the country’s massive reliance on imported goods and services.