Fitch Ratings has assigned Ecobank Nigeria Limited‘s forthcoming U.S. dollar-denominated senior unsecured notes an expected ‘B-(EXP)’ rating with a Recovery Rating of ‘RR4’.
The notes are being issued by EBN Finance Company BV a special purpose vehicle of ENG incorporated in the Netherlands. ENG’s other ratings are unaffected by today’s rating action.
The proceeds of the senior participation notes will be used by ENG for general-banking purposes, including providing the bank with stable medium-term funding.
Ecobank Nigeria, On Thursday, announced that it has successfully priced the USD 300 million bond issuance maturing in February 2026, with the settlement of the bond to take place on 16 February 2021.
The fixed-rate, U.S. dollar-denominated bond, with a tenor of five years, carries a coupon rate of 7.125% and will be listed on the London Stock Exchange.
It is accompanied by an Issuer Rating of B- from Fitch Rating Agency and S & P. The coupon/yield represents the lowest ever coupon/yield achieved by a Nigerian financial institution for a benchmark bond transaction.
B’ ratings by Fitch means the security has material default risk, but a limited margin of safety remains. It means financial commitments are currently being met; however, capacity for continued payment is vulnerable to deterioration in the business and economic environment.
At the peak of marketing the transaction, the issue was over three times oversubscribed, with significant interest from international investors.
The transaction opened with Initial Price Thoughts (‘IPT’s’) of 7.75% and finally tightened to close at 7.125% on the back of robust demand. The strength and depth of the book demonstrated global investors’ strong appetite for the Ecobank franchise in Nigeria, a testament to the strength of the Ecobank Group.
In a statement Thursday, EcoBank said:
“This transaction is the first non-sovereign bond from Africa in 2021 and is milestone capital raise for the banking sector in Nigeria, giving Ecobank access to global debt capital markets, and more favorable credit terms, commensurate with its strong financial position and robust capital structure. For international investors, it represented an attractive option to gain exposure to Nigeria.
“This transaction followed a series of virtual global investor calls, with a number of blue-chip local, regional and international financial institutions, led by Citi, Mashreq, Renaissance Capital and Standard Chartered Bank as Joint Lead Managers and Bookrunners.”
Commenting on the issuance, Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, said: “Despite the challenging global environment owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, and on the back of a successful NGN 50bn Tier 2 issuance in December 2020, ENG was able to successfully issue and price Nigeria’s first 2021 senior unsecured 5 year bond transaction. Ecobank Nigeria, through this issuance, is being proactive in optimizing its capital structure as it continues to drive its medium term growth strategy of establishing itself as a leading facilitator of pan-Africa and international trade and payments.”
Mr. Akinwuntan continued, “I would like to extend my appreciation to our regulators, the Central Bank of Nigeria, for their timely support and continuous guidance, in granting necessary regulatory approvals.”
He further added: “We believe that our capital raising activities are key steps forward towards strengthening ENG beyond the regulatory ratios in addition to diversifying ENG’s medium-term financing sources. ENG is poised for continued growth in the Nigerian financial services industry.”
A senior note is a type of bond that is given priority over other debts should a company declares bankruptcy and is forced into liquidation. As a result of its lower degree of risk, senior notes pay lower rates of interest than junior bonds.
Senior notes may or may not be collateralized.
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