Breaking: CBN Raises Capital Base of Commercial Banks With International Authorisation to N500bn

*N200bn for commercial banks with national authorisation

*N50bn for merchants, banks with regional licences

*N20bn, N10bn for non-interest banks with national, regional authorisations respectively

James Emejo in Abuja 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Thursday announced new minimum capital requirements of N500 billion and N200 billion for commercial banks with international and national authorisation respectively.

The apex bank further unveiled new capital base of N50  billion for banks with regional licenses.

The fresh capital hurdles were disclosed in a statement issued by CBN acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mrs. Hakama Sidi Ali, adding that all fresh capital requirements are to be satisfied by March 31, 2026.

The central bank also pegged the new minimum capital for merchant banks at N50 billion, while non-interest banks with national and regional authorisations are mandated to raise their capital thresholds to N20 billion and N10 billion, respectively.

The development came days after the CBN urged the financial institutions to expedite action on recapitalisation to strengthen the financial system.

The banking industry apex regulator, in a circular addressed to commercial, merchant, and non-interest banks and promoters of proposed banks, which was signed by the CBN Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Mr. Haruna Mustafa, further mandated the banks to meet the new minimum thresholds within 24 months commencing from April 1, 2024, and terminating on March 31, 2026.

The recapitalisation plan which was initially disclosed by the CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, in his address to the Annual Bankers’ Dinner in November 2023, was to enhance banks’ resilience, solvency, and capacity to continue supporting the growth of the Nigerian economy.  

The CBN had urged the banks to consider injecting fresh equity capital through private placements, rights issues and/or offers for subscription; mergers and acquisitions (M&As); and/or upgrade or downgrade of license authorisation to enable them to meet the new capital requirements.

Furthermore, the circular disclosed that the minimum capital shall comprise paid-up capital and share premium only, adding that the new capital base shall not be based on the shareholders’ fund.

The bank added that additional Tier 1 (AT1) capital shall not be eligible for meeting the new capital threshold.

Notwithstanding the capital increase, banks are to ensure strict compliance with the minimum capital adequacy ratio (CAR) requirement applicable to their license authorisation. 

The CBN warned that in line with extant regulations, banks that breach the CAR requirement shall be required to inject fresh capital to regularise their positions.

The circular further clarified that the minimum capital requirement for the proposed banks shall be paid-up capital, and shall apply to all new applications for banking licenses submitted after April 1, 2024.

However, the CBN said it would continue to process all pending applications for banking licenses for which a capital deposit had been made and/or an Approval-in-Principle (AIP) had been granted.

The bank added that the promoters of such proposed banks would make up the difference between the capital deposited with the CBN and the new capital requirement no later than March 31, 2026.

Meanwhile, the central bank has directed all banks to submit an implementation plan (clearly indicating the chosen option(s) for meeting the new capital requirement and various activities involved with their timelines) no later than April 30, 2024.

The apex bank also said it would monitor and ensure compliance with the new requirements within the specified timeline.  

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