Zenith Bank to float $1bn Eurobond

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Zenith Bank of Nigeria Plc says it intends to float up to a maximum of $1 billion in a new Global Medium Term Note programme, with Citigroup Global Markets Limited and Goldman Sachs International, acting as joint arrangers and dealers.

The net proceeds from each issue of Notes will be used by the Bank for its general banking purposes.

“Under this $1,000,000,000 Global Medium Term Note Programme, Zenith Bank Plc (the “Bank” or the “Issuer”) may from time to time issue notes (the “Notes”) denominated in any currency agreed between the Issuer and the relevant Dealer, subject to compliance with all applicable legal and/or regulatory and/or central bank requirements,” Zenith Bank said in a base prospectus dated April 1, 2014.

Eurobond issuances by Nigerian lenders may be seen as attractive by investors, due to the relatively few corporates issuing dollar denominated debt in sub Saharan Africa (SSA) which often leads to a demand supply mismatch.

The growing issuance of Eurobonds by Nigerian lenders, signals the increasing ambitions of banks as opportunities open up in Nigeria, and as increased regulation causes lenders to grow their loan books to boost earnings.

Zenith Bank’s move to float its Eurobond comes as rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S & P) says it has revised its outlook on five Nigerian financial institutions (Access Bank, First Bank, Stanbic IBTC, GTB and Zenith Bank), to negative from stable, due to its earlier revised outlook on the sovereign (Nigeria) which it says was to reflect heightened political and institutional risks.

“We do not rate any bank in Nigeria above the sovereign because of the likely direct and indirect influence sovereign distress would have on the banks’ operations,” S & P said in a statement.

“We are therefore revising to negative from stable, our outlooks on the five Nigerian banks that we rate at the sovereign foreign currency level.”

The revised outlook for Zenith Bank may mean a slightly higher yield will be demanded by investors as the Eurobond will price off the sovereign benchmark.

Nigeria issued $500m of five year Eurobonds and $500m of 10-year Eurobonds last July, at a yield of 5.375 per cent and 6.625 per cent respectively.

Nigerian banks issued a total of $1 billion of Eurobonds in 2013 as a growing economy and lenders need for dollars to finance power and oil projects feeds demand for offshore borrowing.

Outstanding Eurobonds issued by Nigerian lenders is equivalent to $1.85 billion, 23 percent higher than the $1.5 billion in outstanding sovereign Eurobond issuances.

The lenders issuance of debt in the Eurobond market is also a way to tap cheap funding, compared to the domestic corporate bond market, where rates may top 13 percent for similar tenor, although analysts say the banks would have to hedge their exposure to currency risk.

Zenith Bank is the second largest bank in Nigeria by total assets as at 31 December 2012.

The Group provides banking and other financial services in Nigeria, other countries in Africa and Europe, with a customer account base of over two million accounts from 340 branches in Nigeria and 29 branches across Africa and Europe as at 31 December 2013.

It had total assets of N3.1 trillion ($20.19 billion) and a Tier 1 capital of N506.8 billion ($3.25 billion) as at that date.

Zenith Bank reported gross earnings for the year ended 31 December 2013, of N351.470 billion.

The establishment of the Global Medium Term Note Programme was duly authorised by a resolution of the Board of Directors of the Bank dated 12 December 2013.

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