As banks begin to settle into the dynamics of the flexible foreign exchange regime, which will take effect from Monday, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is set to name the lead players in the foreign exchange market today. The lead players would be known as Foreign Exchange Primary Dealers, FXPD. Though CBN’s guidelines indicated that about eight or 10 banks would be registered as FXPD, Vanguard investigations showed that only about four banks are fully qualified, considering their audited financial positions as at end of 2015 and first quarter of 2016. The apex bank would consider shareholders funds, liquidity ratios and volume of foreign currency assets of banks in arriving at top 10 that would be registered as FXPDs. Additional requirements may include capital adequacy ratios and historical volume of bids recorded in the CBN weekly forex market regime due to be phased out today.
The four banks that have fully met the criteria are FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. Further analysis of the top 10 banks in the country, going by CBN’s criteria, shows that about four others may have also qualified with additional four close to meeting the benchmark. The banks are Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, FCMB Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, which have some of the key requirements as at end of 2015 and are expected to have qualified by the first quarter of 2016. Access Bank, GTB, FirstBank, Zenith and UBA have been leading in volume of bids and allocation of foreign exchange from the CBN weekly foreign exchange trading since last year.
Industry observers believe that other banks expected to jostle for the ninth and tenth positions should CBN decide to move up the list, include Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc and Sterling Bank Plc, but their financial positions could not be ascertained due to non-availability of their financial reports as at end of 2015 and first quarter of 2016. Also, Ecobank Nigeria is expected to make the top 10 but their financial reports were US dollar denominated and could not be immediately translated into Naira due to the transitional exchange rate as at today. While announcing the new foreign exchange regime two days ago, CBN had indicated a two-level trading structure where the apex bank would deal on wholesale basis with some banks that would in turn transact with other banks to be known as non-primary dealers, and other dealers at lower retail volume.
In this connection CBN stated: “To improve the dynamics of the market, the apex bank will introduce Foreign Exchange Primary Dealers (FXPD), who would be registered with the CBN to deal directly with the apex bank for large trade sizes on a two-way quotes basis “These primary dealers shall operate with other dealers in the inter-bank market, among other obligations that will be stipulated in the Foreign Exchange Primary Dealers (FXPD) Guidelines. “There will be no predetermined spread on foreign exchange spot transactions executed through the CBN intervention with primary dealers, while all foreign exchange spot purchased by the authorized dealers are transferable in the inter-bank foreign exchange market.”