CBN Raises Capital Base For Mega Banks To N500bn

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Barely 48 hours after restating the need to increase the capital base of Deposit Money Banks for improved productivity, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced new guidelines on its recapitalisation policy for banks in the country.

The new guidelines were disclosed in a statement signed by its Acting Director, Corporate Communications,  Sidi Ali, in Abuja on Thursday.

She said the apex bank had directed commercial banks with international authorisation to increase their capital base to N500bn and national banks to N200bn.

According to the acting CBN director, commercial banks with national licences must meet a N200bn threshold, while those with regional authorisation are expected to achieve a N50bn capital floor.

Similarly, non-interest banks with national and regional authorisations will need to increase their capital to N20bn and N10bn, respectively.

The CBN’s move came two days after the Monetary Policy Committee hinted that it would change the capital base of the nation’s banks.

At the press briefing that followed the 294th MPC meeting on Tuesday, the CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, urged DMBs to expedite actions to increase their capital base to strengthen the financial system against potential risk.

In its meeting, the committee noted that to guard against risk, commercial banks in the country should accelerate their recapitalisation efforts.

Cardoso said, “The MPC also reviewed developments in the banking system and noted that the industry remains safe, sound, and stable. The committee thus called on the bank to sustain its surveillance and ensure compliance of banks with existing regulatory and macro-potential guidelines.

“The MPC also enjoined the banks to expedite actions on  recapitalisation to strengthen the system against potential risks in an increasingly globalised world.”

However, the latest CBN policy directive specifies that commercial banks with international authorisation are now required to shore up their capital base to N500bn.

The current capital base is stratified based on the type of banking licence – banks with regional, national, and international licences are currently expected to maintain the minimum capital bases.

The proposed increase in the capital base comes nearly two decades after the CBN’s 2004 banking reform, which increased the then-prevailing capital base from N2bn to N25bn.

The 2004 banking reform was characterised by massive mergers and acquisition activities, ultimately reducing the number of banks in the country from 89 to 25.

Earlier in March, a report by Ernst and Young indicated that at least 17 out of the existing 24 Deposit Money Banks might be unable to meet the Central Bank of Nigeria’s capital requirement if it is increased from its current N25bn.

The new report, titled ‘Navigating the Horizon: Charting the Course for Banks amid Plans for Recapitalisation’ noted some banks might depend on different recapitalisation options, which include mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, placements and/or right issues and undistributed profit (retained earnings) despite the fact that financial soundness indicators show that Nigerian banks were largely safe and resilient as of 2023.

“On this basis, a worst-case scenario given a 15x capital multiplier for 24 banks will be considered based on the type of banking licenses held. We have benchmarked the current capital of these banks against the current capital requirement and four recapitalization scenarios,” it noted.

In spite of the possible disruption, the apex bank has gone ahead with it’s drastic move.

A circular signed by the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Mr. Haruna Mustafa, to all commercial, merchant, and non-interest banks and promoters of proposed banks emphasised that all banks were required to meet the minimum capital requirement within 24 months commencing from April 1, 2024, and terminating on March 31, 2026.

To enable them to meet the minimum capital requirements, the CBN urged banks to consider injecting fresh equity capital through private placements, rights issues and/or offers for subscription, Mergers and Acquisitions, and/or upgrade or downgrade of license authorisation.

Furthermore, the circular disclosed that the minimum capital shall comprise paid-up capital and share premium only. It stressed that the new capital requirement shall not be based on the Shareholders’ Fund.

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