Nigerian President Bola Tinubu’s move to allow the nation’s currency to weaken has contributed to combined losses of $385 million at six of the nation’s biggest companies.
(Bloomberg) — Nigerian President Bola Tinubu’s move to allow the nation’s currency to weaken has contributed to combined losses of $385 million at six of the nation’s biggest companies.
Airtel Africa Plc reported the biggest loss among the top Nigerian companies for the quarter ended June 30. The local units of Nestle SA and Mondelez International Inc. reported losses for the first six months of the year after revaluing overseas loans and letters of credit as the local currency depreciated 40%.
Tinubu, who took over late-May, has introduced a raft of measures to attract overseas inflows and revive Africa’s biggest economy. Apart from weakening the naira, the government has also ended a fuel subsidy that cost $10 billion last year, more than tripling the pump price of gasoline and causing a jump in food prices. Accelerating inflation is eroding demand for consumer goods from chocolates to beer.
The naira’s devaluation is reverberating across the continent and beyond. Earnings at Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s second-largest wireless phone operator, missed analysts’ estimates by 44% after accounting for one-time foreign-exchange loss of 34.2 billion rupees ($413 million) in Nigeria. Meanwhile, local units of MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest mobile-phone company, and Unilever Plc reported a drop in profits.
The Chief Financial Officer of MTN Nigeria Modupe Kadri said the weakening of the currency resulted in an almost 10-fold jump in finance costs for the unit.
Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc lost 68.7 billion naira after devaluing its foreign-exchange rate to 756 naira per dollar in June from 461 naira in Dec. 31.
Besides higher finance costs, the devaluation has increased expenses of imported raw materials, according to Cadbury Nigeria Plc. “Consumer spending power has really reduced and that has affected sales volumes of companies,” Ogaga Ologe, finance director at the unit of Mondelez said in an interview.
Cadbury also raised prices helping it increase revenue by 28%, Ologe said, adding that continued price increases have started to threaten sales volume.
Still, the president’s policy moves will help in the long-term, according to Airtel Africa’s CEO Olusegun Ogunsanya.
“We expect the FX reforms to improve liquidity over time, thereby alleviating the challenges faced by international businesses over the last few years, associated with accessing US dollars,” he said.
(Updates with comment from MTN Nigeria in paragraph five)
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